NEW YORK RANGERS: Eye of the (Paper) Tiger; Rising Up to the Challenge of Lesser Rivals.
...Stop the music.
Was Saturday's 4-1 victory a matter of Coach Vigneault's line shake-up, or are the Carolina Hurricanes that bad? I'll be kind and say somewhere in the middle lies the truth.
When teams allow the Rangers to skate around, they win. That's why they shouldn't go patting themselves on the back - not on the heels of a pair of losses to the Islanders and Canadiens. Those teams got physical, and the Rangers fell short; very short.
When this team gets close to being on the verge of elite, they fall flat, like they did upon returning from the west coast and getting pounded by the Islanders and Bruins.
They followed that with a three game winning streak, which included a 5-2 victory over the Pens. However, that came during a stretch during which the Pens lost to the Devils and Islanders as well. In other words, PITT was primed to be beaten. As I write this, the Pens are losing again to the Predators.
A victory over the last place Hurricanes was expected.
The next three games are against the Panthers, Bruins, and Predators.
Don't underestimate the Panthers. For 50-minutes, they're a good team. They're just horrible finishers, and get killed in extra innings. Otherwise, if the Rangers aren't careful...., you know.
Playing the Bruins again, and facing the Predators needs no back story. So, we'll revisit this conversation on the night of Feb 7th.
Who's Fooling Who?
Chris Kreider made more noise in January than he has all season. He scored his 11th goal of the season, during a rather dominant performance against the Canes (so take that with a grain of salt). It was his 3rd goal in the last 6 games, and his 5th goal over 12 games in January. He only scored 2 goals in each of the first three months of the season.
He scored 8 points in January, also the most of any month so far this season. But the schedule belie his numbers. During the month, Kreider scored against the Sabres, Sharks, Blue Jackets, Senators, and the Canes. He did not score against the Ducks, Kings, Bruins, Penguins, Habs, or in two games against the Isles.
Still in the Closet
In Thursday night's game against the Canadiens, Kreider and P.K. Suppan harassed each other throughout the night. Suppan never dropped his gloves though. His goading didn't work as both earned plenty of time in the box.
Tanner Glass took on Brandon Prust in the 1st period, and earned a decision on points.
I recently said Tanner's penalty minutes are justified, obviously, where as Chris Kreider's are not. The two lead the team in minutes served, however, Glass's 56:00 minutes are far less than Kreider's 79:00 minutes in the box. Kreider gets an honest pass against Suppan, but his minutes remain unnecessarily high.
He started the season with 38:00 PM in October, but, 17 of those came in one game against Columbus. That leaves a balance of 21:00 minutes for October. In November he dropped down to 10:00 minutes, then down to 8:00 in December. He finished January with 23:00 minutes served.
He can't use his size and speed, or score, if he's consistently sitting in the box.