The New York Rangers came out of Tuesday’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes a little banged up. Artemi Panarin and Andrew Copp didn’t play in Wednesday’s game against former Ranger Marty St. Louis‘ Montreal Canadiens. However, neither injury appears to be serious. Chris Kreider received special honors on two nights, and president and general manager (GM) Chris Drury made some savvy moves at the trade deadline that are already paying off.
Panarin & Copp Banged Up
Panarin and Copp left Tuesday’s game against the Hurricanes, who clinched the Metropolitan Division with a 4-3 win over the Rangers. The former left with an upper-body injury and the latter with a lower-body injury. Panarin missed his first game since Jan. 10, while Copp was in his first game back since sitting out Saturday against the Boston Bruins. It’s believed that Copp aggravated the same injury that kept him out of that game.
Both were kept out of the rest of the Hurricanes game and scratched for the Canadians game as a precaution. “They told me between periods, ‘Do you want them back?’ And I said no, I need them back next week,” said Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant, who added that the two forwards should be fine. “I hate to see it, but I’d [rather] be cautious than not have them when the games really matter” (from ‘Rangers get injury scares as Hurricanes clinch Metro Division,’ New York Post, 4/26/22).
The Rangers finished in second place in the Metro with home ice for the first round of the playoffs locked up, so there’s no need to rush anyone back.
Kreider Honored With Two Awards
On Tuesday, Kreider was named the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award Winner, as voted on by the fans. Each season, the award is presented to the Ranger who “goes above and beyond the call of duty.” The organization has given out the award since the 1987-88 season in honor of New York City Police Detective Steven McDonald, Steven McDonald was shot in the line of duty in 1986 and passed away at the age of 59 in 2017. McDonald was a huge Rangers fan, and his family has carried on his love of the team while the Rangers and fans have helped carry on his legacy with the award.
On Wednesday, Kreider was presented with the first-ever Rod Gilbert “Mr. Ranger” award ahead of their game against the Canadiens. Gilbert, who passed away recently, was one of the all-time favorites to suit up for the Rangers. After his career, he remained in Manhattan, where he developed a special relationship with the next generation of players, fans, and the city of New York. The award is given to the player “who best honors Rod’s legacy by exemplifying leadership qualities both on and off the ice, and making a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.”
Related: Rangers Should Name Kreider Captain
Rangers After Drury’s Moves at the Deadline
Drury made some savvy moves at the 2022 Trade Deadline, acquiring depth players like Frank Vatrano, Copp, and Tyler Motte without giving up much. Motte has been out with an injury since April 7 but was solid beforehand. Since the additions to the lineup, the Rangers have cut down on their shots against, which has allowed goaltender Igor Shesterkin to get a bit of a breather heading into the playoffs.
The Rangers played the Hurricanes right before the trade deadline and allowed 44 shots. Before that, they gave up 40 or more shots four times. However, since the deadline, the Blueshirts haven’t given up 40 shots in a game. The most was 31 shots, with the exception of Tuesday’s game against Carolina when they allowed 36. They had three games of 20 or fewer shots allowed, and in most others, kept their opponents between 22 and 27.
It’s been a whole team effort. The forward lines are finishing their checks and picking up their men on the backcheck, while the defensive core is playing well positionally. Shesterkin has been excellent as well, with three shutouts since the deadline. With these moves, Drury provided the depth for Gallant to implement his system, and the players are executing. That’s a great sign heading into the playoffs.
Zibanejad, Kreider & Trouba Get the Night Off
Gallant has been adamant that personal accomplishments don’t compare to what the team wants to do in the playoffs. As such, Mika Zibanejad, Kreider, and Jacob Trouba were given Wednesday night off to rest during the Rangers’ 4-3 loss to the Canadiens in preparation for the postseason, which begins next week.
The Rangers are in a good spot. They’re can rest their top players and let them heal from the bumps and bruises of a long regular season. Since the deadline, they’ve started to play a style that should translate into playoff wins.
All “shots against” stats courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com