Welcome to New York Rangers Weekly! The Rangers continued to look like a different team as November progressed compared to how they looked at the beginning of the month. After the team struggled in three consecutive games in western Canada, the Blueshirts redeemed themselves with a record of 7-1. The Rangers had two games postponed due to COVID-19 – a road game on Nov. 20 against the Ottawa Senators and yesterday at home versus the New York Islanders. The NHL has not announced when the games will be rescheduled. Let’s take a look at some of the headlines from last’s week three games.
Rangers Finish With a 7-2-2 Record in November
Last night would have been the Rangers’ last game of November had COVID-19 not forced the league to postpone Islanders games. The Blueshirts had a successful month of play to remain competitive in the tough Metropolitan Division. Currently, they are behind the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals in the division. The Hurricanes, Capitals and Rangers have been the most consistent teams in the division through the first two months of the season.
The Rangers had three consecutive victories against the Buffalo Sabres, Islanders and Boston Bruins, respectively. Against the Sabres, the Blueshirts had an exhilarating victory thanks to defenseman Ryan Lindgren’s game-winning goal with 0.7 seconds remaining in regulation to secure a 5-4 win. The Rangers carried that boost into consecutive road games against the Islanders and Bruins and had commanding victories. They defeated the Islanders and Bruins, 4-1 and 5-2, respectively.
Offensive Contributions From Depth Players
Forward Kaapo Kakko continues to contribute consistently on offense since he notched his first two points of the season two weeks ago in a shootout victory against the New Jersey Devils. Since that game, he has points in every game played except the most recent against the Bruins. His stat line over the last six games is 3-3-6, which is certainly an improvement from where he was previously in the season as he battled an injury and was not a factor offensively while he was playing.
Forward Ryan Reaves, who is known more for his physicality than point production, had three assists in two of their three games played last week. Forward Kevin Rooney contributed two goals in the victory against the Islanders, and forward Julien Gauthier tallied two assists in the win against the Bruins. There will be several games through the course of a long season where top players such as forwards Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin will have off nights production-wise or be in a slump. It is beneficial for the Rangers to have as much steady production as possible from their depth players in order to sustain their success.
Rangers Have Concerns at Backup Goaltender
Alexander Georgiev, the backup goaltender for the Rangers, has struggled for the majority of the season. During his last start against the Sabres, he allowed four goals on 18 shots through two periods before coach Gerard Gallant replaced him with Igor Shesterkin at the start of the third period. He has looked unreliable in net during the games he has played this season, unlike Shesterkin.
It remains to be seen what the team will do to resolve the issue at backup goaltender. There is the issue of waivers if they send Georgiev to the Hartford Wolf Pack in the American Hockey League and call up Keith Kinkaid. Both players could get claimed by another NHL team, so they risk losing both of the goaltenders. Another option is to call up Wolf Pack goaltender Adam Huska, who is waiver exempt.
Panarin Fined For Unsportsmanlike Conduct
After throwing his glove at Bruins forward Brad Marchand during the Rangers-Bruins game last Friday, Panarin was fined $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Rangers forward became incensed after the Bruins player made comments about Panarin’s leave of absence last season involving accusations made by Panarin’s former coach in Russia. The Rangers player has been outspoken in his criticism of Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.
Panarin took a leave of absence last season in order to resolve the allegation from the Russian coach that the Rangers forward struck a woman 10 years prior. Regarding Putin, Panarin commented in 2019, “I think he no longer understands what’s right and what’s wrong,” (from ‘Why Putin keeps meddling with athletes like Rangers star Artemi Panarin’, New York Post, 2/27/2021).
Panarin believes Marchand should have received a fine, saying, “Yeah, I think that’s not honest. Because I just can’t control myself after that. It’s important to [know] that I didn’t start it. I didn’t say good things about him, too, but I think when you touch country, it’s different. Probably all Russians would want to defend their country,” (from ‘Artemi Panarin thinks Brad Marchand crossed line with Russia dig: ‘Lost my mind’, New York Post, 11/27/2021).
The Rangers appear to be in good shape heading into December. The team’s next game is Dec. 1 at their home venue, Madison Square Garden, against another rival — the Philadelphia Flyers. The history between the Blueshirts and Flyers is well-known among the fanbases and players. The first game of Broadway versus Broad Street will likely be an entertaining one, and fans of either team and of the NHL will be paying close attention to this game between the two adversaries. The Rangers are scheduled to have home games against the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 to close out the week.