There was a consensus last season that New York Rangers center Ryan Strome was simply a product of Artemi Panarin and that he was not nearly as good as his point total indicated.
*Insert the Michael Jordan. “And I took that personally,” GIF here.*
Fast forward to 2020-21, and Strome leads the Rangers in points with 34 and is currently riding a 10-game assist streak and an 11-game point streak. Registering two goals and 14 assists over those 11 meetings, the former fifth-overall selection proves that last season was not a fluke. He has been as consistent as any Rangers’ forward, finding open teammates with relative ease over the course of this year.
Strome is on a 77-point pace over an 82-game season and makes decisions about his future in a Rangers sweater rather difficult. A Saturday night game against the Buffalo Sabres provides Strome the opportunity to extend his assist-streak to 11 consecutive games, passing the legendary Rod Gilbert for the second-longest streak in franchise history.
Brandon Dubinsky Picks Ovechkin Over Crosby
Former Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky appeared on The Garage Beers podcast of Belly Up Sports and proceeded to make a comment that got the hockey world riled up. On the show, Dubinsky stated that he would take Alexander Ovechkin over Sidney Crosby, “Every day of the week.”
Dubinsky had several battles with Crosby during his time in New York, which continued when he moved on to the Blue Jackets. However, Dubinsky didn’t stop with just the comments on the podcast. Once his choice became public, there was an outrage from fans on Twitter, prompting Dubinsky to reply with this:
It’s a debate that will surely rage on long after both of these players are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Crosby may be the better all-around player, while Ovechkin the better goal scorer, but from the mouth of the man who played against both, Ovechkin is the better player.
Dubinsky finished his career with 438 points in 823 games played, 393 of those games coming as a member of the Rangers. Fans surely remember the tenacity with which he played the game, and it appears that tenacity has carried over into his post-playing career.
Alexis Lafreniere’s Limited TOI
After a nail-biting 3-2 overtime victory on Thursday against the Sabres, the jubilation of the victory was quickly washed away when fans realized that first-overall selection, Alexis Lafreniere, played just 8:11 the entire game. It is now the second time in the last three games that his ice time has fallen short of 10 minutes, yet he has recorded a point (one goal, one assist) in those games.
What is the most amazing part of his minuscule time on ice? The 19-year-old had just three shifts the entirety of the third period, registering an assist on the go-ahead goal on one of them (courtesy of shift chart). There is a fine line with what the Rangers are going through right now. They are on the precipice of underdevelopment while still competing for a playoff spot this season. No one wants to lose, but winning at the expense of their future’s development is also a tough pill to swallow.
Lafreniere has managed three points over his last five games, showing glimpses of what made him the first pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Linemate Filip Chytil is rounding back into form and creating offense whenever he is on the ice. That sounds like a combination that should be playing a little more, especially when that line has an average age of 21.
A massive 11-game stretch is upcoming for the Rangers. After their battle against the Sabres on Saturday comes to an end, the Blueshirts will play two against the Pittsburgh Penguins, two against the New York Islanders, four against the New Jersey Devils, one more against the Islanders, and finally two against the Philadelphia Flyers.
If the Rangers can come away with seven wins on that stretch, they will be right in the thick of things come the final weeks. If they play mediocre hockey and trade wins with losses over those 11 games, their playoff hopes will fade into oblivion.
What do you think will happen over this upcoming stretch? Comment with your record predictions below!
Brendan Azoff is a THW contributor and podcast host dedicated to covering the New York Rangers. His passion for hockey started when he first laced up the skates at three, growing into his love for writing and talking about the greatest sport in the world. His podcast, The Backcheck, breaks down the Rangers, Islanders, and NHL news and can be found on The Hockey Writers Podcast Network and Belly Up Sports. Brendan has been writing about the Rangers and the NHL for over two years, with his content also found on Puck Prose, Blue Line Station, and E2G Sports. If you want to connect with Brendan and stay up-to-date on his posts, follow him on Twitter. He is always available for content ideas and interviews, don’t be afraid to ask!