Rangers’ Top Line Continues to Roll

By Matthew Blittner
Special Contributor to MSGNetworks.com

“Whatever line you put Quickie on, he makes it better,” said head coach Alain Vigneault.

That quote has been especially true ever since Vigneault partnered Jesper “Quickie” Fast with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad on the Rangers’ top-line.

Going into their 5-1 victory over the Sabres Saturday night at The Garden, the Blueshirts’ top-line had generated 20 points in the last four games. (Now 25 in five.)

A big part of that has been the hot-hand of Fast.

Jesper carried a career-high seven-game point streak into the matchup against Buffalo and it didn’t take long for him to extend it.

At 16:29 into the first period, Kreider opened the scoring with a beauty of a goal against Sabres’ goalie Robin Lehner.

And who should get the assists? Zibanejad and Fast.

With that helper, Quickie turned his seven-game streak into an eight-game streak; the longest by a Blueshirts player this season.

Jesper’s production has opened a lot of people’s eyes and that’s going to continue for the foreseeable future.

[Watch Rangers-Lightning Friday on MSG & MSG GO. Download the app for free.]

As for the game…

WHAT WENT RIGHT

1. FOUR SCORE AND THREE YEARS AGO

For the first time since Jan. 3, 2015, the Rangers scored a goal on four consecutive shots. This time, it was Kreider, Jimmy Vesey, Neal Pionk and Zibanejad who turned the trick. And how poetic; both times the Blueshirts accomplished this feat, they victimized the Sabres.

2. PAPA JOHN’S PIZZA

It’s the eighth straight game, and 11 of 12 that the Seventh Avenue Skaters tallied at least three goals. When you’re chowing down make sure to first say thank you to Kreider, Vesey (twice), Pionk and Zibanejad for your pizza.

3. SCORCHING TOP LINE

Twenty-five points in five games isn’t just scorching hot; it’s nuclear! The Rangers’ line of Kreider-Zibanejad-Fast is averaging five points per game for crying out loud. If they keep this up, they’re going to need a witty nickname. Any suggestions?

4. GOING STREAKING

Pionk (points in seven straight), Zibanejad (goals in five straight and points in seven), Kreider (points in five straight) and Fast (points in eight straight) all extended their respective scoring streaks. It was an extra special night for Neal as he tallied his first career NHL goal.

“It’s hard to believe at first,” said Pionk. “It’s just such a great feeling when those guys come get you and they all give you a huge hug. Something I will never forget.”

5. SAVES GALORE

It was a career-evening for rookie goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev. The first-period onslaught from Buffalo forced Alex to make 21 saves. That set the tone for an eventual career-high 43-save win. Georgiev has now made at least 30-saves in seven of eight career starts.

[Read: “Alex The Great” Looking to Conquer Broadway]

When asked how he felt about making so many saves, Alex replied, “I’m just trying to play my game and help the guys in every way I can.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

“There’s no doubt they threw a lot of pucks at our net in that first period,” said Vigneault. “Alex [Georgiev] made some good saves, but at the end of the day we had some grade-A chances that we were able to capitalize on and we got a lead.”

[Watch Rangers-Lightning Friday on MSG & MSG GO. Download the app for free.]

The Garden of Dreams Foundation helps kids facing obstacles in the Tri-State area, including Rangers fan Taylor Ryan who is battling a rare blood disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.