Matinee in Ottawa

On a mid-November Saturday afternoon, the hottest team in the NHL, the New York Rangers headed north of the border to take on a Ottawa Senators team that has been hot as well 5-2-1 in their past 7 games.

The Rangers have been on a hot streak from late October into November with a combination of timely goals (scoring multiple goals within minutes uninterrupted in each of their last 4 games ) and outstanding goalie play not just from the King but from new comer Antti Raanta between the pipes.
The Rangers first line of Nash / Mats Zuccarello & Derick Brassard has been on fire as of late with the Hobbit #36 leading the charge

The game started with a lot back and forth action, Ottawa took a bad penalty in the offense zone, JT Miller shanked on a wide open empty net that my niece who is 3 years old could have buried. The games 1st goal was owned by Chris Kreider on a beautiful deflection on a blast from the point from on a power play from Kevin Hayes. Minutes later Jasper Fast took a penalty that lead to an Ottawa power play. Ryan Mcdonagh ( better known as Mac D) fell down in offensive zone that lead to Ottawa rushing up the ice to put a beautiful pass behind Hank. I’m not sure how the ice is prepared up north but players on both side of the puck were dropping like flies during the first 20 minutes.

The Rangers aggressive penalty kill philosophy tends to bite them in the ass from time to time leaving themselves vulnerable for quick rushes up the ice when shorthanded. They live & die by this sword.

Halfway through way the first 20 minutes, the game was knotted 1-1 on 2 power play goals. Hank took on an onslaught of shots towards the end of the 1st stopping 6 shots in 5 seconds in what looked like Neo in the Matrix. The Rangers offensive zone puck circulation was on point all period with all of their passes clicking and Anderson stood on his head making some great saves. Ottawa rang the post a few times which was gold to Hanks ears & Ottawa did a great job stopping our break out pass towards the end of the first period.

After 20 minutes this game could have easily been a very different score as both net minders played excellent.

The second period was back and forth, with the first 5 minutes very sloppy on both ends, The Rangers had a power play that was useless and wasted 2 minutes of our lives watching it. Jarret Stoll took 2 bad penalties in which Nash danced around with the puck to kill a good portion of one of them.

With 5 minutes left Zach Smith laid a dirty head shot at Derek Stepan to cause a scrub along the boards. Little did Smith know that the beast who is Chris Kreider was right there to jump in and demonstrate what most Ranger fans have not seen in many years , an old-fashioned beat down defending his teammate. Kreider did not hesitate jumping in to demolish Smith and was given a 17 minute Major for fighting & instigation. Giving Kreider 17 minutes under these circumstances was blasphemy with Smith skating away from this scrub without a penalty keeps me scratching my head and Smith should have been issued a 5 min major or at least 2 minutes for roughing, This is just another time Toronto hit the “Screw the Rangers Button”. Up until about 10 secs left in the 2nd period the Blueshirts really didn’t have much for quality chances. Both goalies were playing well after 40 minutes.

The 3rd period looked identical to the 2nd, Hank moving side to side made a Spider monkey style save on Kyle Turris to keep it knotted at 1-1. The 3rd period was way more physical than either of the first 2 periods but the Rangers cross ice passes were lackadaisical and cost them a few odd man rushes.

Neither teams capitalized on their 3rd period chances and the game headed to Overtime. 60 minutes was not enough and we got to see the 3 on 3 for the 3rd time this season as the contest went to a shoot-out.

I have to note, I’m still skeptical on the OT format but if you saw what I watched, it is pretty exciting with 2 posts and plenty of back and forth action.

Booby Ryan began the shootout putting one past Hanks 5 hole. Nash was ineffective on his chance with one to many dekes. Hank stood on his head for the last 2 attempts from the Senators just to see the hobbit Zuccarello tie it up and then the home town Ottawa native, “Grey Bush” Dan Boyle bury the games winning shot out past Anderson.

For a player who has been in and out of the lineup and nearing the end of his career, it is nice to see Boyle get the game winning goal and I credit Alain Vigneault for putting him out there.

After 65 minutes of hockey and a shootout, the Rangers continue to win games and stay on top of the Metropolitan division winning there last 8 games.
It is not always going to be pretty but the Blue Shirts controlled the flow of this game leaving Ottawa with 2 points on a Saturday afternoon in November is always good.

– Player of the game Chris Kreider, 1 assist away from the OL’ Gordie Howe hat trick

– Chris Fox