With back-to-back games this past weekend, the New York Rangers sought the resurgence of Igor Shesterkin in Boston last Saturday. During what was labeled as a “make or break” weekend, the Blueshirts found a way to take all four points. Knowing that each netminder would appear, both Shesterkin and Jonathan Quick were called upon to stand on their heads like they’ve been doing all season long.
Despite the negativity, Shesterkin was, and still is, the number one netminder in New York. It was a tough spell for the Russian-born goaltender. Yet, as we all saw this weekend, one night in Boston proved that he hadn’t lost his game. Here is a recap of New York’s weekend along with a preview of Tuesday’s matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Coming into last Friday’s tilt with the Anaheim Ducks, the Rangers looked sluggish against the Maple Leafs. It was arguably their most disappointing showing all season. From the jump, Toronto’s stars were in cruise control and capitalized on every chance that was given to them.
It is no secret that the Rangers lead the league with 11 come-from-behind wins this season. So, when Brett Leason opened the scoring for Anaheim in the opening period, New York did not need to panic. The night was highlighted by Christopher James (Chris) Kreider who hit two milestones on the evening. His first goal, #280, tied him with Adam Graves on New York’s all-time scoring list. He would eventually earn himself a power play goal later in the evening, putting him in the sole position of third all-time. That power play goal he scored was the 100th in his career.
Kreider has been a force to be reckoned with since his days at Boston College. From his days as an Eagle, CK20 was sought out by scouts because of his strength and speed. He is one of the best net-front presences in the entire league and will go down as one of the best Blueshirts of the modern era. One can make the argument that he might be the next banner to rise to the rafters of Madison Square Garden. A Stanley Cup would make that decision a no-brainer.
Along with Kreider, Mika Zibanejad also found himself on the scoresheet. The bromance was alive and well last Friday. His ninth goal of the season proves that New York’s special teams are the real deal, currently ranked the second-best in the NHL.
What Else Can You Say About Quickee?
Offence aside, the play of Jonathan Quick has been remarkable. Although perhaps sounding like a broken record, it is amazing what he can do at 37 years old. Almost every time he’s out there, he is making at least one highlight reel save on the opposition. When this season is over, Quick will have put together a highlight reel almost as impressive as Tavon Austin’s.
Vincent Trocheck & Co. Steal One in Boston
New York’s league-leading 11th comeback win came Saturday night on the second leg of the back-to-back. The location was TD Garden in Boston, the home of the best team in the Atlantic Division. The Rangers were hoping to replicate their performance against Boston just a few weeks ago when New York came out on top 7-4. What we got on Saturday was a bit of a different tale.
Frustrating would be the word to describe New York’s first 40 minutes in Boston. A lack of creativity was evident, allowing the Bruins to control the home-ice advantage. Boston’s Trent Frederic would get the scoring going in the second on what was a slightly controversial call. Replay showed that there was nothing wrong with the goal and Boston would take a 1-0 lead into the final period.
If you are awarded five power plays, then one of them is bound to be successful, right? The fifth time was a charm for New York in the form of Vincent Trocheck’s snipe from the slot to level it at one. The immaculate feed from Zibanejad was the epitome of a tape-to-tape pass. New York’s “Italian Stallion” would not stop there.
The Rangers controlled the duration of the overtime period when Artemi Panarin found his centre uncontested, guiding home a goal past Jeremy Swayman sealing the 2-1 win. It was not pretty, but it was enough. That is all New York must do: hang around a steal one when it is necessary.
Cometh The Hour, Cometh Igor Shesterkin
Igor Shesterkin was awarded the Broadway Hat for his 21-save performance. It was the perfect time and place for a “bounce back” game for Shesterkin. You hate seeing athletes slump, it’s unfortunate that it is part of any sport. New York’s number one netminder was the subject of speculation regarding his out-of-form play. Shesterkin silenced the haters temporarily with his performance on Sunday. From a defensive standpoint, Peter Laviolette and his staff should be proud of that one. Limiting the number of shots while your goaltender is sharp is a perfect combination that is destined for two points.
New York Looks To “Turn Over A New Leaf”
The month of December does not get any easier for The Blueshirts. New York returns to action on Tuesday on the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Almost a week ago, Toronto dominated the Rangers on December 12 in a 7-3 drubbing. The Leafs are coming off one of their best performances all season: a 7-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins last Saturday. Their core four are continuing their point-per-game success, with William Nylander leading the way with 40 points to his name.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST from Scotiabank Arena.
Main photo: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports