What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. As always, you can read the archives on the right hand side of the site and follow me on twitter, @nycthemic for live in-game tweets.
Since I’ve last posted an update, the Rangers started the season, ruined two home openers by beating the Blackhawks & Blue Jackets on the road and won their home opener in a healthy fashion.
It’s hard not to be giddy in RANGERSTOWN right now, huh? The Rangers are 3-0, have earned all available 6 points and have watched some of their Metropolitan division rivals lose in brutal fashion.
While it is a good time to be Rangers fan and you may want to puff out your chest a bit, the reality is, the Rangers are 3-0, it’s October 12th and we are 79 games away from the playoffs. It would be great if the playoffs were tomorrow, but alas, the NHL needs to make their money on the regular season too.
When the team is winning, it is easy to overlook some of the negatives the team has made. The Rangers could’ve easily lost either of their road games. Kane got a goal called off in the final minute in Chicago. The Rangers gave up a backbreaking goal to Columbus on the road with 3 minutes left. However, with perhaps an assist from the officials in their win over Chicago and the offense exploding out of nowhere against Columbus, the Rangers marched into their home opener undefeated to host Columbus, in the second game of a home/home series.
In their third game of the season, the home opener, I thought the Rangers played their best hockey to date. The scoreboard reflected that as well, as the Rangers won 5-2, in a game that was out of hand with 53 minutes remaining on the clock. I know after three games some fans have them going 82-0 and then sweeping every Stanley Cup playoff series, but in reality, we still don’t know what team will be there come April/playoff time. However, right now, with a 3-0 record and perhaps some luck in each of these three games, we do know the Rangers are a team to be reckoned with.
Due to my work schedule being so nuts, I’m going to be focusing mostly on the home opener last night and sprinkle in some comments about the road games as well.
When you look at the Rangers start this season, you can start off with numerous individuals. Henrik Lundqvist? He’s been a big part of it. Oscar Lindberg, the man on pace for 109 goals? He’s been a big factor as well. However, the constant in all of these games in the last 2+ seasons has been Coach Alain Vigneault.
Like many, when AV took over the reigns, after Lundqvist helped get Torts fired after that Boston Massacre in the playoffs, I was skeptical. Ruff seemed to be a popular candidate. I was in the Messier camp. When AV came here, after watching his Vancouver Canucks fail in the playoffs again, I wondered what was the point, since the Canucks won President Trophies but never brought home the Cup. Now over two years removed from that beating Boston gave the Rangers in the playoffs, Coach AV has the potential to be the greatest coach in NYR history, as he was the fastest coach in Rangers history to get to 100 wins.
Just check out this media release from the NY Rangers on AV. This was sent out after the Rangers win on Friday night:
“Alain Vigneault earned his 100th win as the Rangers head coach in tonight’s contest, becoming the 10th head coach to record 100 wins with the Blueshirts in franchise history. Vigneault earned his 100th win as Rangers head coach faster than any other head coach in franchise history (166 games; previous record was shared by Tom Renney and John Tortorella – 201 games). Vigneault, who also earned at least 100 wins during his coaching tenure with Montreal and Vancouver, became the 11th head coach in NHL history to earn 100 or more career wins with at least three franchises, joining Scotty Bowman, Joel Quenneville, Ken Hitchcock, Pat Quinn, Ron Wilson, Bryan Murray, Darryl Sutter, Pat Burns, Terry Murray, and Jacques Demers. Vigneault leads all Rangers head coaches (min. 100 regular season games coached) in points percentage in franchise history (.642 – 100-53-13 record). In addition, he leads all NHL head coaches in wins since the start of the 2006-07 season (413).”
In AV’s first two years as coach, the Rangers overachieved and made the Stanley Cup Finals. They then won the President’s Trophy before losing in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. With a quick 3-0 start, who knows what the Rangers fate will be in the playoffs in April.
Coach AV has to get some of the credit for the Rangers success right now. Noticing that his best player, Henrik Lundqvist, is a notorious slow starter, he had Benoit Allaire, the best goaltending coach in all of hockey, change his approach to the start of the season. The result- Hank is off to one of his best starts ever.
When it came to filling out his roster, after being light, depth-wise at the position, the Rangers came into this season with too many centers. AV tinkered with his lines and called up Oscar Lindberg. The result? Lindberg is the highest scoring player in the NHL!
Coach AV saw something he didn’t like in the play of Kevin Hayes in the preseason. AV decides to call out Hayes in the media. The result? Hayes with a game winning goal on Friday.
I thought AV got robbed of the Jack Adams award last year. If the Rangers continue to play like this, there will be no denying AV the award this year. What a phenomenal job by the Rangers guru behind the bench.
In case you have been living under a rock, Lundqvist made an early Save Of the Year candidate at the home opener, robbing Ryan Johansen with his stick. If you haven’t seen it yet, here are some links where you can view it:
While this stick save will get some Odell Beckham like replays and could go down as the sweetest looking save of the season, the fact is Hank was out of position and had to make a miracle save on shot that shouldn’t have even happened. That being said, that’s the only thing you can complain about, when it comes to Hank’s play, thus far this season.
I’ll save you the contract crap, because you’ve heard it a million times (and for some reason if you haven’t, just check out the archives), but Henrik Lundqvist has been the best player on the ice for the NY Rangers since making his return from the throat injury.
The only weak part in Hank’s game this season, as it always has been, is his puck control. He doesn’t need to come out of the net and should let his defensemen move the puck around instead of passing it himself.
Lundqvist has been sensational in the first three games this season. 32 saves in Chicago. 31 saves in Columbus. 37 in the home opener. Hank has been making highlight-reel saves every game, including a nasty flashing of the leather on Friday.
I said in my preview blog and I’ll say it again. The key to the Rangers success in April is a healthy Henrik Lundqvist. By winning early and often this season, this will allow the Rangers to rest Hank in the latter stages of the season and allow Hank to be 100% for the playoffs. This is all contingent on Raanta playing well too. It looks like Raanta will most likely start next week, perhaps Monday against the Sharks. If Raanta fails, I thought Hellberg did well in the preseason. Skapski is probably 2-3 months away from being 100% but even then, I don’t know if the Rangers would bump him up or look for veteran help elsewhere.
I have the NHL package and I am thrilled with the service. You are able to watch any game, anywhere and watch replays at any time. Obviously, I’ve been watching Edmonton Oiler games for Connor McDavid and for the legendary Cam Talbot. Talbot has been the best player for the Oilers all season. Hank has been the best player for the Rangers this season. The common link between them – Benoit Allaire.
Not to take anything away from the games of Talbot & Lundqvist, but from listening to both men talk in interviews and listening to AV interviews, you can see how much they value and credit Allaire for helping their games. When a team is clicking on all cylinders, it is easy to over look some people, but the contributions of Benoit Allaire should not be swept under the rug.
All summer long, when it came to the rookies in the NHL, all you heard about was Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the number 1 & 2 draft picks, respectively, for the Oilers & Sabres. Enter Oscar Lindberg, who played less than 30 minutes last year and has now joined the team as a third line center. Lindberg, who spent the bulk of last season with the Hartford Wolfpack currently leads the NHL with four goals. Obviously, Lindberg won’t be able to keep up this torrid pace all season long, but if Lindberg can keep playing well, it will help this team dramatically.
Lost in Lindberg’s barrage of goals is his defense. On Friday, he prevented a goal by shoving a crashing Blue Jacket out of the crease, getting to the puck and clearing it. On the penalty kill, Lindberg has shown poise in keeping it simple and clearing the puck. He is breaking up the other teams momentum with his deft poke-checking ability. His hustle has also been superb as well.
When the Rangers let another young rookie forward go last year, in Anthony Duclair, via the Keith Yandle trade, I was pissed off. The Rangers need to have those young guys come up and grow, kind of like what you’re seeing in Tampa right now. With Lindberg, he’s making me feel very relaxed right now.
When it comes to Lindberg, the only thing you have to worry about right now is what nickname will he have. Oscar “The Goalie” Grouch? “The O-Face” after a goal? “Lindbomb?” “The Academy?” What potential and contributions #24 has made thus far. Kinda makes you forget about the last guy who wore that number, right? (Let’s see if people can pick up on my sense of humor or send me hate filled emails about Cally!)
Despite the Chicago Blackhawks delaying the start of Wednesday’s puck drop by nearly a half hour with their circle jerk Cup celebration (And let’s be honest, if the NYR ever won a cup, they could start the game at 3am for all I care), the Rangers came into the game focused. While you’re going to have some sloppy play this early in the season, I thought the Cup champs were more wild than their President Trophy winning counterparts.
I think you really miss Carl Hagelin on these empty net situations. I know EN goals don’t mean much to people, but it’s still a goal. When you score an empty net goal, you’re basically slamming the door shut on the other team. No one wants to sweat out the final minute or two. Kreider is probably the fastest skater on the team, so the Rangers should rely on him more in these situations to use his speed to get to the puck and dump it the length of the ice.
In a game full of skill and science, the Rangers spoiled Chicago’s Banner night, 3-2. The Rangers then defeated the Blue Jackets 4-2 on Friday night, in a game completely opposite than the game against Chicago. On Friday, the Rangers and CBJ played at a ferocious pace and had a very physical game. In fact, the game was so physical, I was wondering if Coach AV was going to give McIlrath his first start of the season Saturday. Instead, AV scratched Fast for Tanner Glass. While Glass is pretty much useless & the most overpaid player on the team (1 goal last year and it came towards the end of the season) Glass is well liked by the locker room and isn’t shy to mix it up.
There are two players that really shined, outside of Lundqvist (Best player this season so far) & Lindberg (NHL Goal leader). To me, those players were Mats Zuccarello & Captain Ryan McDonagh. Zucc, who scored two goals in Friday’s contest, was all over the place. His goal late in the first period was a game changer. The most important thing to me – you can’t tell that he was ever injured.
Ryan McDonagh. What can you say about the Captain? He played a physical game on Friday. Outside of the dumb penalty late in the game, which led to what could’ve been a GWG for CBJ, Captain Mac was out of this world. I don’t know if this is something you really need to work on, but his slap shot is fucking near-deadly. Maybe he should only pull the trigger on it when none of his teammates are close, as there were several times some of his guys were getting nicked up from it. After what happened to Zucc last year, it’s worth considering.
A player that I’ve always liked and acquired in one of Sather’s biggest heists ever (McDonagh was the biggest heist), is Kevin Klein. Klein was having the best season of his career, before being injured by an Ovi slap shot. He rushed back for the playoffs because that’s what type of guy he is, but wasn’t the same. However, we are seeing glimpses of what made Klein so valuable to this club last year in these three games played. He will be interesting to keep an eye on as the season progresses. I’m really rooting for the guy. I know many fans wanted him dealt, and I don’t know why, but I’m glad to see him contributing to this team.
Opening night at the Garden has become one of my favorite nights of the year since MSG was renovated. The Rangers have really pushed their #RANGERSTOWN marketing these last few seasons. During the playoffs, the Rangers open up a piece of real estate on the corner of 33rd & 7th and have cool exhibits, games, meet & greets, giveaways, etc, all for free. On opening day, the Rangers close off a part of 33rd & 7th and do the blue carpet entrance, as well as giveaways and other fan related events.
After putting in a 10 hour day at work on Saturday, I walked my fat ass down to MSG and watched some of the blue carpet entrance. It was PACKED! The fan support for this team is tremendous right now, which in large part due to the success in recent years. I can never remember tickets being so expensive on the secondary market either, which again, is due to the success the team has been having. Even just in general, I see more people in my daily life wearing Rangers gear.
I bar-hopped a bit before the game, just to see the vibe. The Flying Puck was swamped and overpriced, as usual. I decided to also give HOOTERS a chance. This could be a little gem, as it wasn’t as crowded and they provide free cell phone charging stations at the upstairs bar. What also was nice was being able to see the blue carpet entrance from that vantage part.
I had many friends going to the game on Saturday, which made the day fun. We eventually all got together at Lucy’s/The Local. That place was also mobbed. Obviously, those two bars die out a bit when it gets really cold, but on a nice fall day, the beers were flowing heavy near 8th avenue. What’s also nice about drinking at those bars is that you are close to the MSG side entrance, which is never as packed as the main entrance on 7th avenue. I’ve included a bunch of pictures from opening day at the end of this blog.
While myself and Brian Miller (Mentioned throughout the archives) sat in our blue collar seats in section 227, my friends, the infamous JEFFREY & the previously aforementioned Bison, sat in section 117. With the Rangers up 3-0, we saw JEFFREY & Bison giggling like two school girls when they were on the JUMBOTRON when the camera focused in on Lauren Cohan from “The Walking Dead.” I never found out if JEFFREY told her to lose his number or not.
Lundqvist and Bobrovsky are the highest paid goalies in the NHL. However, only one of them looked like he was worth the money last night, as Bobrovsky was abused, giving up three goals in the first six minutes of the game. I can remember last year, watching the Leafs abuse the Rangers, 6-2. It felt so good to see the Rangers get off to a hot start and it really set the tone for the rest of the night in the building. Arguably, last night was louder than most of the playoff games last year.
Lindberg got his third and fourth goals of the season. His hockey IQ looks to be extremely high, as his first goal came by finishing a play, after Kevin Hayes was denied and Lindberg popped it in. Lindberg would score again, with the recently married Dominic Moore picking up his first goal of the season shortly thereafter. It was nice to see Stoll assist on Moore’s goal, giving Stoll his first point of the season.
The Rangers powerplay, a nightmare at times, delivered a goal late into the second period, as Brassard buried the puck home, and basically ending Bobrovsky’s night. What was key about that goal was that AV was calling out Brass in the media. Brass, like Hayes, responded. I mean everything is just clicking and working right for this team, I can’t stop smiling.
In continuing the “Night of the Living Centers” theme, Derek Stepan added a quick goal early into the third period, putting the Rangers up 5-0. The game was really over when it was 3-0 early, because the Rangers skaters never gave up and Lundqvist was a rock. CBJ added two goals to the stat sheet, from Johansen and from a Jenner PPG. It would’ve been nice to see Hank get the shutout and I don’t know if the team lost focus being up 5-0. The feeling I got from the crowd, once the Rangers went up 3-0, was just that it was a night to celebrate.
My friend Brian, a lifelong Rangers fan, feels this team is just as deep as the team from two years ago. I’m not sold on that yet, but time will tell. I can see why he feels that way though.
This Rangers team looks really good and the puck luck is swinging in their favor. I mean, everything is going so right, that you have some mongo calling up Mike Francesa asking if it’s possible for the team to go 82-0! You don’t want to downplay what this team is doing right now, but you can’t lose focus on knowing that the only thing that matters is the playoffs.
Ranger wise, on tap this week are the Jets at home on Tuesday before visiting Montreal on Thursday. Only two games this week, with four games upcoming the following week. The Jets are playing very well right now and Montreal is always tough on the road. Should be two good tests for this Rangers team. The best thing about this Rangers team is that they are in it any given night.
As far as the next blog, I would like to have a quick Jets reaction. As I said in previous blogs, my work schedule is a lot more than last year, which takes time away from this hobby. You can always tweet at me during the games, should the mood strike.
You can also join our Facebook group, if you’re into that stuff at:
I’m finishing this blog on this 5:17AM train to work, that being said, here are some pictures from the home opener, followed by the official NYR notes. I really feel the press release from the NYR, with all the quotes and stuff are interesting, which is why I’m copying and pasting it for you here, in case you haven’t seen it yet. Until next time, don’t forget to fart.
OFFICIAL NEWS & NOTES FROM BLUESHIRTSUNITED.COM:
– WINNING WAYS – The Rangers have won each of their first three games of the regular season for the first time since 2008-09, when they tied a franchise record for most consecutive wins at the start of a season by recording a win in each of their first five games.
– HOME COOKING – The Blueshirts earned a win in their home opener for the first time since the 2009-10 season (5-2 win against Ottawa on Oct. 3, 2009). Dating back to last season, the Rangers have earned at least one point in 31 of their last 40 home games (26-9-5), and they have won nine of their last 13 home contests (9-4-0).
– TOP OF THE HEAP – The Rangers have posted the best record in the NHL since Jan. 1, 2014 (81-34-11 in 126 games; .687 points percentage over the span).
– BACK-TO-BACK – Since the start of last season, New York has posted an 11-3-1 record in the second game of back-to-back sets, including an 11-1-1 record in the second game of its last 13 back-to-back sets. The Rangers rank second in the NHL – and rank first in the Eastern Conference – in points percentage in the second game of back-to-back sets since the start of the 2013-14 season (.732; 20-7-1) and since the start of the 2010-11 season (.705; 45-18-3).
– TEAM EFFORT – Eleven different Blueshirts recorded at least one point in tonight’s contest. Through three games this season, 14 different Rangers have tallied at least one point and seven different Rangers have registered at least one goal.
– FINISHING THE JOB – The Rangers have posted a 152-1-9 record in their last 162 regular season games when leading after two periods, dating back to Feb. 6, 2010 vs. New Jersey. New York’s .938 winning percentage and .966 points percentage when holding a lead after 40 minutes over the span rank first in the NHL.
– THREE’S COMPANY – The Rangers have registered three goals in a period in each of their first three games of the 2015-16 season (Oct. 7 at Chicago – first period; Oct. 9 at Columbus – third period; Oct. 10 vs. Columbus – first period). Including the preseason this year, the Blueshirts have registered three or more goals in all nine games they have played. New York has notched three or more goals in each of its first three games of the season for the first time since 2010-11.
– TAKING THE METRO – The Rangers have earned at least one point in 26 of their last 30 games against Metropolitan Division opponents (25-4-1), and they have won 22 of their last 26 intra-division games (22-4-0).
– FOUR SCORE – New York tallied at least four goals for the second straight contest. The Blueshirts have posted a 98-1-1 record in the last 100 regular season games in which they have registered at least four goals, dating back to Oct. 31, 2011 vs. San Jose. In addition, the Rangers have posted a 119-1-2 record in the last 122 regular season games in which they have notched four or more goals, dating back to Nov. 14, 2010 vs. Edmonton.
– TWO GOOD – The Rangers have allowed two goals or fewer in each of their first three games this season and in 19 of their last 24 regular season contests. The Blueshirts rank second in the NHL in games with two or fewer goals allowed since the start of the 2013-14 season (97), and they have posted an 82-12-3 record in those contests. In addition, the Rangers have allowed two goals or fewer in 58.1% of games they have played since the start of the 2013-14 season (97 of 167).
– BLUE ‘JACKET’ NOTE – New York extended its winning streak against Columbus to five games, which is its longest winning streak against the Blue Jackets since the teams first faced each other during the 2000-01 season. New York has earned a point in 11 of its last 14 games against Columbus, dating back to Oct. 24, 2008 (10-3-1).
– FIRST IN SCORE – The Rangers have tallied the first goal of the game in each of their first three contests this season, and they have done so in 53 of 85 games since the start of last season. In addition, the Blueshirts have outscored their opponent, 7-1, in the first period through three games in 2015-16. Last season, the Rangers led the NHL in first period goals (84) and first period goal differential (plus-30; 84-54). Since the start of the 2011-12 season, the Blueshirts have posted a 128-18-9 record in games which they have recorded the first goal of the game.
– HOT AT THE DOT – New York won 34 of 59 faceoffs in tonight’s contest (58%). Four different Rangers posted a faceoff win percentage of 60% or better in the game.
– Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves to earn his third win of the season. Lundqvist has now appeared in both games of a back-to-back set 71 times in his career. In the second game of those back-to-back sets, the Rangers’ all-time wins and shutouts leader has posted a 44-20-7 record, along with a 2.01 GAA, a .930 SV%, and 8 SO. In addition, Lundqvist has now started 146 regular season games against a goaltender who has also won the Vezina Trophy in his NHL career. In those games, Lundqvist has posted an 89-44-13 record, along with a 2.18 GAA, a .923 SV%, and 14 SO. He has also posted a 9-1-1 record, along with a 1.96 GAA, a .939 SV%, and 1 SO in 11 career games in which he and Sergei Bobrovsky have both started. Lundqvist has made 30 or more saves – as well as post a .939 SV% or better – in each of his first three appearances in a season for the first time in his NHL career. Lundqvist has made 10 or more saves in six of nine periods through the first three games of the season in 2015-16, including all three periods in tonight’s contest.
– Oscar Lindberg tallied two goals and registered three shots on goal in tonight’s game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lindberg is the first Rangers rookie to tally a goal in each of the team’s first three games of a season. Also according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lindberg is the first Rangers rookie to tally a goal in each of the first three games of their rookie season since Steven King did so during the 1992-93 season (four straight games with a goal from Dec. 6, 1992 – Dec. 13, 1992). Lindberg is the second Ranger in the last two seasons to tally a goal in each of the team’s first three contests (Rick Nash became the first Ranger to record a goal in each of the team’s first four games of a season in 2014-15). He is the first Blueshirts rookie to tally at least two goals in one game since Chris Kreider registered two on Mar. 9, 2014 vs. Detroit.
– Viktor Stalberg tallied two assists, was credited with two hits, and posted a plus-two rating in 14:40 of ice time. He has notched an assist/point in two of the Rangers’ first three games this season (three assists) and he has recorded 68 of his 73 career NHL assists, and 130 of his 135 career NHL points, at even strength. He has recorded more points (17) against Columbus than against any other NHL opponent, and he has tallied 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in his last 14 games against the Blue Jackets. Stalberg’s team has posted a 79-19-14 record when he has notched a point in his career.
– Derick Brassard recorded a power play goal, won a game-high 12 faceoffs, and led the Rangers in faceoff win percentage (71%; 12-for-17) in 15:05 of ice time. Since he joined the Rangers on Apr. 3, 2013, Brassard leads the team in power play goals (16), power play assists (25), and power play points (41). He has also been on the ice for 56.8% of the Rangers’ power play goals since the start of the 2013-14 season.
– Derek Stepan tallied a goal, won eight of 12 faceoffs (67%), and tied for the game-high with two takeaways. The Rangers alternate captain has recorded a point in each of the team’s first three games of the season. By tallying a goal in tonight’s game, Stepan tied Darren Turcotte for 50th place on the Rangers’ all-time points list (255). Since he joined the Rangers at the start of the 2010-11 season, he leads the team in goals (91), assists (164), and points (255). Stepan has tallied 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) in 28 games against Metropolitan Division opponents since the start of last season, and he has recorded 67 points (25 goals, 42 assists) in 76 contests against opponents in the Blueshirts’ division (Atlantic Division in 2012-13; Metropolitan Division from 2013-14 – 2015-16).
– Dominic Moore registered the game-winning goal and won nine of 15 faceoffs (60%) in the contest. Moore has tallied a goal in two of four home openers he has played with the Rangers, as he recorded his first career NHL goal in the Rangers’ 2005-06 home opener on Oct. 6, 2005 vs. Montreal.
– J.T. Miller notched an assist, tied for the game-high with two blocked shots, and registered four hits in the game. Miller has tallied an assist/point in each of the Rangers’ first three games this season, and he has tied his career-highs with a three-game assist streak and a three-game point streak. In addition, he has notched a point in 10 of his last 16 games, tallying 12 points (three goals, nine assists) over the span.
– Kevin Hayes recorded an assist, and registered three shots on goal. Since the conclusion of last season’s All-Star break (Jan. 27, 2015), he leads the Rangers in assists (20) and points (32). In addition, Hayes has registered a point in each of the first three games of the 2015-16 season, and he has notched a point in 23 of his last 39 games.
– Keith Yandle recorded two assists, tied for the game-high with two blocked shots, and posted a plus-two rating. Yandle leads NHL defensemen in assists (49) since the start of last season. He has tallied an assist/point in two of three games this season, and he has recorded an assist/point in nine of his last 15 games (one goal, 12 assists over the span).
– Dan Boyle notched an assist and posted a plus-two rating in 17:39 of ice time. Boyle leads NHL defensemen in points (523) since the start of the 2002-03 season. He also leads all NHL defensemen in power play points (145) and ranks second among NHL defensemen in power play assists (110) since the 2008-09 season. New York has posted a 48-15-3 record when Boyle has been in the lineup since he joined the team prior to the start of last season.
– Chris Kreider tallied an assist and registered two hits in the contest. Kreider has registered a point in nine of his last 15 games, tallying 12 points (four goals, eight assists) over the span. The Rangers have posted a 27-1-1 record in the last 29 games in which he has registered a point.
– Jarret Stoll registered his first assist/point as a member of the Rangers, won two of three faceoffs (67%), and registered two shots on goal in the contest.
· Alain Vigneault, New York Rangers head coach
On Henrik Lundqvist… “He’s certainly been our best player since the start of the season. You got to give full credit to Benoit Allaire. He got a plan together, we discussed it with Hank and obviously he’s playing the way he’s playing right now, the plan is falling into place. He played a very strong game again tonight and he’s doing what a goaltender is supposed to do, give his team a chance to win.”
On the home opener… “Tonight was our third game in four nights. We wanted to get off to a good start in front of our fans. So far the home team in home openers hadn’t had a lot of success (around the league) and we got off to a real good start. We had some really great opportunities and we capitalized on them and that’s the start that we wanted.”
On Oscar Lindberg… “He’s got four goals right now in three games. I don’t think he’s going to continue on an 80-something goal pace. Players go through these stretches. I need him to be very effective at both ends, but he’s gotten us some really timely, important goals. Tonight those two early goals, three games in four nights, you need those and you need those from different components in the dressing room and tonight we got them from him.”
· Todd Richards, Columbus Blue Jackets head coach
On tonight’s game… “We had some opportunities in the offensive zone but we aren’t going to win any games by giving up five goals. In the start of the game, a couple of turnovers led to easy goals and not being able to get back into the game. And I am not just talking about getting a hold of the game and getting composure, it led to a lot of mistakes. We gave up a 2-on-1 and five breakaways coming into the penalty shot, and that’s not good hockey when you’re doing that.”
On the team’s play tonight… “It is a surprise based off how we played last night, 24 hours ago. You come out here, different environment – we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We knew it was going to be hostile, and these are the moments you want to be in games for, and we didn’t go up and we didn’t execute from the first drop of the puck.”
· Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers goaltender
On the team’s start this season… “I think the core group from last year is helping the new guys and together I think we understand what needs to be done here early on. Two years ago we changed our system, last year we tried to recover a little bit from the Finals, but now this year I feel like we all understand what needs to be done. It’s important that we set the tone early and build something positive. Our game plan, we know what we need to do. I think these first three games, they haven’t been perfect but we have been finding ways to make the team pay when they make mistakes. We really took advantage in the first period here tonight. Our energy, the building was great, so we took advantage of that and they made some poor decisions early on.”
On tonight’s game… “I felt like I was tracking the puck pretty good and it was a challenging game. There were a lot of chances. Playing three in four – going into this game, the biggest challenge was to find that energy but it’s fun to come back home and play here at the Garden again and it was not hard to find that energy tonight.”
On concentrating on his starts in preparation for the season… “It was hard not to when AV (Vigneault) left me with the message, the last thing he told me before I went back to Sweden was ‘you have to be better when we start.’ That stayed with me the entire summer and coming back to camp. With Benny (Benoit Allaire), we put out a good plan to be as ready as I could be and I felt like I was in a good phase when we started playing. It’s only three games, but I also felt playing the exhibition games, I felt like my focus was better. I spent more time this year, this camp, to prepare mentally, which has helped me. It’s a big part of my game when I play – my focus. Sometimes it takes me a little bit to get there, but I think I pushed myself to get there faster this year.”
· Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers defenseman
On the start to the season… “You look at the schedule and you realize obviously you are going into Chicago, going into Columbus, coming back to back for a home opener is going to be a good test right away. I think the majority of us would say we got better in all three games, in each period. That’s a good sign. Obviously we know we can improve too.”
More on the start to the season… “It’s a huge boost to our guys and obviously we haven’t had good starts to seasons in a couple years. It’s great to see him (Henrik Lundqvist) give us a chance to win in these first few games. Now we know we can improve for sure defensively, giving up chances, hopefully give up less against. But at the end of the day we found a way to win three pretty good, important games to start the year. But obviously it’s only three games so we have to continue to work in practice and get better and hopefully improve there.”
· Oscar Lindberg, New York Rangers forward
On the chances his line has been producing… “I think we’ve been doing that all three games, playing hard and trying to get the puck deep, and I think from there we’ve been creating chances and I’ve been able to be in the right spot at the right time. So we are just going to try to keep it going.”
On his start to the season… “I don’t try to over think it; I’m just trying to play. But coming in today, with this crowd and everything, it was a special feeling. Winning three games, the first three games, and to be able to score a goal too it’s pretty special for sure.”
On his confidence… “Coming into this year, I think just knowing the system a little more since having the same in Hartford that is making me feel more comfortable. Being around these guys, they are helping me a lot and talking to me. So I think it feels better every game.”
· Marc Staal, New York Rangers defenseman
On tonight’s game… “We still had great chances in the second period. We had a ton of great chances in the first. In the third, it’s 5-0, it’s a hard game to play sometimes. You are trying to do the right things and they’ve really got nothing to lose. (We) start taking some penalties and some turnovers and stuff that’s uncharacteristic. We will look to clean that up, but you know we were solid for most of it.”
On the start to the season… “When I first looked at the schedule, they didn’t throw us any bones to start the season, so that’s what my thought was. We knew it was going to be tough so it’s definitely nice to get out to a 3-0 lead after a weekend like that for sure.”
On this season’s start compared to last season… “I think we were a few games under .500 in at least the first 10 (games), so to get out to three in a row is definitely nice. You get a winning feel and that confidence that you can win games early and that’s always a good thing. At the same time, we are winning games and we are not playing our best, so we can still look to improve and while we are doing it, we are winning, so it’s nice.”
LET’S GO RANGERS!