Rangers News & Rumors: Kreider, Kakko, Lowe & More

The New York Rangers had a great weekend. They won back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday, beating the Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils. Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin led the way on Saturday and Kappo Kakko finally found the scoresheet on Sunday with his first two points of the season. At the same time, Alexis Lafreniere scored a goal as well. Former Rangers defenseman Kevin Lowe was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, and the Rangers sent Greg McKegg down to American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack.

Kreider and Panarin Lead the Way

Kreider keeps lighting the lamp. He’s got 11 goals in 15 games and is far ahead of his teammates in that category. Panarin, Lafreniere, Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox are closest with four. Kreider scored the insurance goal on Saturday against the Blue Jackets, which was his second of the night, while Panarin chipped in with the first and third Rangers’ goals of the evening. Panarin is second on the team in scoring behind Adam Fox with 15 points in 15 games.

On Sunday, against the Devils, Kreider provided the winning goal in the shootout. He was the seventh Rangers’ player to shoot on Devils’ goalie Jonathan Bernier. Kreider fooled Bernier with a nice deke to the backhand and brought Madison Square Garden (MSG) crowd to their feet.

The seven-round shootout win topped off a back-to-back weekend sweep of two division foes. The Rangers currently stand in third place ahead of the Devils and behind the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes.

Kakko and Lafreniere Are Alright

Sunday against the Devils, Kakko finally got on the score sheet. He poked the puck away from Devils defenseman Ryan Graves at center ice and took off with Ryan Strome. The two made a nice give-and-go play ending with Kakko wrapping the puck around the Devils starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood’s outstretched leg to give the Blueshirts the lead with 6:29 remaining in the third period. Blackwood was injured on Kakko’s strong move to the crease, causing Bernier to take the net.

Kaapo Kakko New York Rangers
Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Lafreniere joined the party, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead halfway through the second period. Kakko and Jacob Trouba assisted on the goal, making my colleague Brendan Azoff very happy. Lafreniere has had a frustrating up and down season so far, but he’s fighting through it. Kakko got banged up early on and missed four games. He’s only had 14 shots on goal, which is not good for a player with his skill. However, he’s a plus-1.

Lowe Into the Hall

Lowe, who played with the Blueshirts from 1992-96, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Monday. The six-time Stanley Cup champion, who won five with the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty and one with the Rangers, is in the 2020 class. The induction was postponed due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Lowe was often overshadowed in Edmonton. Playing with players like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr, and his defensive partner, Paul Coffey, among others. All of which are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

However, Lowe was a leader on and off the ice during the Oilers’ dynasty. He was and is respected by his former teammates. The Great One said, “We all wanted to win bad. You don’t have the success we had without feeling that way. But Kevin was that way more than anyone. He was the guy that pushed us.”

Lowe had this to say about his time in New York, “Such a wonderful time, I think how fortunate I was — I really didn’t want to leave [Edmonton]. Glen [Sather] was being a stickler with the contract. It just seemed like the time, and the Rangers offered me twice the money that the Oilers were willing to offer me.”

Related: New York Rangers and 99: When Gretzky Hung’ Em Up

McKegg Sent Down

Greg McKegg was sent down to Hartford Monday morning. McKegg has played in eight games thus far and has zero points with a minus-2 rating. This signals Filip Chytil is close to coming back.

Goals, Wins and Lowe

The Rangers got goals from veteran stars and future ones to sweep their back-to-back weekend divisional battles. One of the key components of their last Stanley Cup win was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and McKegg was sent down, which means Chytil should be back in the lineup soon. Not a bad week.

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