It wasn’t always the prettiest hockey, but the Rangers will take it. They’ve been in quite a few close games lately. Sometimes carving out a lot of close wins ends up being the difference between squeaking into the playoffs or being mired in the cellar.
Listless effort from the Penguins
On paper, the Rangers are not a team that should bottle up the Penguins like this.
That’s basically what happened here, as the Penguins went 0-for-6 on the power play and only scored one goal midway through the first period.
It was a fairly quiet game from top Penguins. While Evgeni Malkin managed an assist, Sidney Crosby wasn’t able to get on the scoreboard. Crosby ended the evening with a -2 rating, and the two combined for just three shots on goal.
Panarin keeps scoring, even with Zibanejad ice cold
Heading into the 2020-21 season, Mika Zibanejad landed on a variety of buyer beware/regression lists. Generally, the message wasn’t that Zibanejad lacks high-end skill. Instead, it just seemed unlikely that Zibanejad could sustain the 19.7 shooting percentage he managed last season.
(That was easily Zibanejad’s career-high.)
So far, Zibanejad’s suffered an overcorrection to an extreme. Heading into Monday’s game, Zibanejad only had a goal and an assist in eight games. His shooting percentage was at a defenseman-level 3.7 percent. Despite three shots on goal on Monday, Zibanejad remained ice-cold.
That hasn’t stopped Artemi Panarin from driving the Rangers’ success, though. Panarin scored an empty-net goal and two assists to help the Rangers win on Monday.
Signs of life from Rangers’ power play, Kreider?
Ultimately, the Rangers need more than just Panarin, even if he maintains his near-MVP-quality play.
It would certainly help if their power play generated more goals. Coming into this one, they managed just a 14.71 percent success rate, down from last season’s robust 22.91 percentage.
Chris Kreider was all over the place on Monday, but couldn’t break through for much of the game. Finally, he scored the game-winner in the dying moments of a power play. So far this season, Kreider has a modest four points in nine games (all goals), but Kreider scored three tallies in his last four contests.
Kreider and K’Andre Miller saw their names connected to a variety of reports and rumors surrounding Tony DeAngelo lately. Both came through in this Rangers win, as Miller created offensive chances and had a key block when New York was attempting to hold off the Penguins.