Check out all 7 goals from Washington’s exciting 4-3 overtime win over Chicago.
The New York Rangers may be winning, but their head coach, Alain Vigneault, knows they need to be better.
Hmmm…this feels familiar for some reason.
Oh right, that’s because it was the same story last season, when the Rangers got off to a great start before tailing off then fizzling out in the playoffs.
The Rangers head into tonight’s game in Brooklyn with a record of 17-8-1. That’s the good news.
Here’s the bad — in five of their last six games, they’ve been held to 25 shots or fewer. On the season, their score-adjusted Corsi has fallen to 26th in the league.
“We’re very aware and very conscious of the areas we need to be better at,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post. “We’re playing a team that’s playing real solid hockey.”
Indeed, the Islanders are 3-0-1 in their last four, including wins over Pittsburgh and Washington.
To be fair to the Rangers, they’ve been without Mika Zibanejad for the past seven games, and he was a big part of their early success. Tonight, they’ll also be without Michael Grabner, who’s gone back to Austria for his grandmother’s funeral.
But the Rangers aren’t looking to make excuses. They’re looking instead to get back on track.
“It’s definitely a five-man thing for us and communication and just getting on the same page again,” forward Jimmy Vesey said, per the Daily News. “It’s definitely something we need to get back to, and I think that’s kind of like the recipe for being a good team down the line and in the playoffs.”
Kari Ramo took another step in his return to the NHL on Tuesday, signing a PTO with the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Marlies.
The deal, first reported by TSN, comes one day after Toronto placed backup netminder Jhonas Enroth on waivers.
“Obviously, wasn’t going good enough,” head coach Mike Babcock said of the decision to waive Enroth, per TSN. “We’re just in a situation where we’re making a change.”
(Enroth cleared today, FYI.)
As for Ramo, he’s an interesting figure. The 30-year-old suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Calgary this past February and, at the time of the injury, led all Flames netminders in starts, with 33.
Prior to that, he’d rebounded from a poor start to the year — which included Calgary waiving him — and, in January, then-head coach Bob Hartley called Ramo “probably one of the hottest goalies in the league.”
So it’s easy to see why Toronto would be interested.
Of course, Ramo is coming off a major knee injury and has basically been shelved for 10 months. He’s been practicing with the Leafs, but this ATO with the Marlies will give him a chance to test the knee in a game situation, and knock off some of the rust that’s surely accumulated.
Ramo is believed to be close to receiving medical clearance for a return to action.
Schultz was in on a pair of Pittsburgh goals, scoring one and assisting on another. The 26-year-old defenseman now has three goals and eight assists in 26 games. And on a good team that can put him in a position to succeed, he’s a plus-13.
Schultz, of course, joined the Penguins last season in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers. He won a Stanley Cup in June, then re-signed for one year and $1.4 million in July.
“He deserves a lot of credit for the effort, the commitment level he’s shown,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Friday, per the Post-Gazette.
Sullivan too deserves credit, for playing Schultz to his strengths and bringing out the best in an imperfect player. An offensive defenseman, Schultz is not being asked to do much of the heavy lifting defensively. He starts a lot of shifts in the attacking zone, and he doesn’t play very often against the opposition’s best.
Last night, Schultz displayed his offensive instincts and abilities, jumping up in the rush to take a pass from Evgeni Malkin, then burying it for the go-ahead goal.
Schultz ended up logging 19:54 of ice time, including 16:20 at even strength, the most among Penguins d-men.
When Carolina put Jordan Staal on IR with a concussion eight days ago, many wondered how the club would react to losing such a versatile performer.
Those same people will have to wonder a little longer.
The ‘Canes, who have gone 1-2-1 in their first four games without Staal, are unlikely to get him back for at least another three — on Tuesday, head coach Bill Peters said Staal was unlikely to travel with the team for its upcoming road trip through California.
Also, there’s this:
It’s a profound loss, to say the least. The 28-year-old has a pretty big role in Carolina, and is the club’s top defensive center. He averages a healthy 18:29 TOI per game, and is one of the club’s best faceoff men, winning draws at a 60 percent clip.
Last year, Staal scored 20 goals for the first time since being acquired by the ‘Canes. He was off to a modest offensive start this year, with five goals and nine points through 21 contests.
Having a big-bodied center like Staal is usually vital for these California trips. The ‘Canes will have to deal with the likes of Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and San Jose’s Joe Thornton.
With Staal out, Teuvo Teravainen has picked up the slack at center. He played a healthy 18:21 in Sunday’s OT win over the Lightning.