It wasn’t too long ago where we all thought the Rangers were going to the Stanley Cup finals. They were up 2-0 on the Tampa Bay Lightning, finally figured out a way to beat Vasilevskiy in back to backs and were poised to make a serious dent in my checking account. We all know how that ended and collectively had to endure an offseason of what if’s.
I know it’s just game 1 of 82, I know there will be battles throughout the season, I know there will be plenty of ups as well as plenty of downs but last night was exactly how the New York Rangers wanted to start. They commanded the puck, they won 50/50 battles, they won face-offs, players bought into their roles, and by the end of the night the Rangers beat the wheels off of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- K’Andre Miller is going to be a problem in the National Hockey League. He’s big, has a long reach, can skate for days and now he’s starting to play physical. He has quite literally every single tool a defenseman would dream of having. Did anyone else see him make Ross Colton look like a toddler? The Rangers are blessed to have Adam Fox – an offensive wizard, Ryan Lindgren – an absolute nailgun, Jacob Trouba – a 2022 Scott Stevens, and K’Andre Miller in their top 4.
- We talked top 4, now lets give a quick shoutout to the bottom pair. Braden Schneider is everything everyone once thought Brady Sjkei could be. The kid can skate, the kid battles, he knows when to join the rush and when to stay back. How good did that number 4 look? Zac Jones played a reliable 13:31 and did all the little things right. This is a game a young pairing can build off of.
- Artemi Panarin is back. How many times did he make you giggle “Oh shit” last night? I lost count. He is the king of setting the pace of the game to whatever pace he wants and he is at his best when he’s having fun. Number 10 was dancing last night which is a very good sign for Rangers fans.
- Speaking of back, Mika Zibanejad wanted everyone to know he says hello. This… this is porn.
93 was BUZZING last night and continues to be our guy moving forward. Such a beautiful thing.
- I was one of the few people who appreciated what Ryan Strome brought to the table but holy shit is Vinny Trocheck a better number 2 center. He does all the little things right and is an absolute pain in the ass to play against. He was 10 and 6 at the dot last night, was creating another high outlet on the powerplay and has shown that he can be a guy you can put on the ice in a close game. I know people don’t love the contract but the Rangers finally have a legit number 1 and number 2 center.
- How lucky are we that we went from Henrik Lundqvist to Igor Shesterkin? The head band warrior looked like he didn’t even have an off season. He is always so square to the puck and always has the quiet cool demeanor about him, which believe it or not helps his defenseman settle in. Game 1, .962 SV% .. is that good?
- In Troubas first game as captain, I thought he looked identical to what he looked like last year. During intermission Chelios and Messier were talking about how they didn’t know why Trouba was in front of the net looking to score – I don’t know either but he did that a lot last year too. He played a quiet game, made the play happen that led to the Zibanejad goal and didn’t try to be anyone other than himself. The C looks good on number 8.
The Rangers take on the Wild tomorrow night at 8 and it looks like Kravstov will be out, as well as Sammy Blais. Dryden Hunt looks to fill into a lineup looking to build off of a damn near perfect start. Lets go Rangers.
Also, here’s the full fight of Gallant and Chelios. Get pumped, Chelly.