Post trade deadline the New York Rangers faced a tough, yet reeling Nashville Predators team, currently sitting atop the NHL with 89 points despite losing their last two in a row. The Rangers, themselves sitting second in the Metropolitan division with 82 points were coming off a rough performance against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Needless to say it has been a stressful time around the NHL as the Trade Deadline came to a close today at 3 p.m. With recently acquired defensemen Keith Yandle of Arizona suiting up as a Ranger for the first time, and Mats Zuccarello breathing a sigh of relief after rumors of his services being placed on the trading block the Rangers aim to move forward and have a better performance then the game played on Saturday v.s. the Flyers.
Nashville came into Madison Square Garden having dropped their previous two in a row. The big stories of the night were the overwhelming persistence of the offense of the Rangers that kept up the pressure and possession for nearly the entire game.
Tallying 40 shots on goal the Rangers peppered Nashville’s Pike Renee swarming him all night, determined to provide no respite.
The penalty kill was spectacular, as it seemed the Rangers won every battle swarming to the puck, while continuously pressuring the predators despite being down a man. The Rangers Rick Nash seemed to be everywhere making intelligent defensive plays, as well as providing an offensive presence during the PK, as Nashville were unable to get sustained possession going 0 for 3 in penalties on the night.
The five on five defense was also at a high caliber this evening as goaltender Cam Talbot only saw 26 shots on goal through 3 periods. Marc Staal Broke the ice at 6:36 in the first as he snapped a beautiful wrist shot to stun a predators team which to that point had some momentum working for them. Trade worries seemed to be firmly in the rearview mirror.
Zuccarello in particular finished with 2 assists on the night. The newest addition to the defense, Keith Yandle as well played a strong game. In his first appearance he showed poise, and confidence with the puck making few if any mistakes. His ability to control the special teams during a power play was only tested once by which the Rangers did not score, however the skill is plainly there.
Not to be outshone by the collective efforts of the Rangers Goaltender Cam Talbot also played an impressive game in net making 25 of 26 saves and posting a .962 save percentage. Talbot was on point standing tall opposite the the NHL’s second best goaltender Pike Renne. Though many of the Predators shots came from some distance Talbot fought to make strong, and timely saves that helped the Rangers gain an edge.
All facets of the team seemed to be clicking as the fog of Zuccarello’s rumored trade had been lifted from the team. Chris Kreider scored his 17th goal of the season, assists coming by way of Zuccarello, and Brassard. A beautiful play generated by the strong instincts of Ryan McDonagh who kept the play alive by freezing Nashville’s defenseman near the point with a sweet in, and out move that generated time and space to move the puck deep.
Nash capped the positive evening with his 38th goal of the season (2nd in the NHL) via an empty netter at 19:16 leading to a 4-1 victory at MSG. Looking a head it seems that the chemistry of this team is right where it needs to be. Ranger’s fans can be grateful for what Glen Sather was able to accomplish. Momentarily 1st in the division the Rangers look to build on their strong performance as they take on the competitive Detroit Redwings this Wednesday.