NEW YORK – The New York Rangers continue to roll as they improve to 7-3-0 with a convincing 5-0 victory of the St. Louis Blues to finish the season series between the two teams. Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 35 shots he faced to earn his 60th career NHL shutout in tonight’s contest. Lundqvist is the 10th goaltender who has registered at least 350 career wins and at least 60 career shutouts in NHL history, joining Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Dominik Hasek, Ed Belfour, Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall, and Roberto Luongo as the only goaltenders to accomplish the feat.
The Blueshirts picked up right where they left off on Sunday night and scored two opening period goals. Dan Girardi blasted a puck from the point at 9:37 of period one for his second of the season and games opening tally. The power play which along with the rest of the Rangers game continue to surge as well. Jimmy Ra picked up his team-leading sixth goal of the season on the power play nearly two minutes later.
Second period magic also continued for the Rangers tonight as they added three more goals in the middle period giving them a plus-14 goal differential in the second period through 10 games this season (19-5). Rick Nash (5th of the season), Mats Zuccarello (5th of the season) on the power play and Kevin Hayes (3rd of the season) tallied the goals in period two.
The Rangers have posted a 6-1-0 record at home this season and have outscored opponents, 32-14, in their first seven games at MSG in 2016-17. Since the start of the 2015-16 season, the Rangers lead the NHL in wins (33), goals for (162), and goals per game (3.38) at home. They lead the NHL in goal differential this season (plus-18 – 40 goals for, 22 goals against). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rangers’ plus-18 goal differential through 10 games this season is the best over the first 10 games of any season in franchise history. The Rangers have posted a plus-10 goal differential over the last two games (11-1).
Chris Kreider, who returned to the line-up notched two assists and led the Rangers with five shots on goal in tonight’s contest. Kreider has registered four multi-point games in his first six games of the season, tallying nine points (three goals, six assists). He leads New York in points per game this season (1.50).
For the coaching staff especially for head coach Alain Vigneault, you couldn’t be more happier than what his guys are showing on a nightly basis right now.
“The two things that are happening right now are guys are working extremely hard and are preparing themselves to play”, Vigneault said. “When you do that, you give yourself a real good chance against good teams and that’s what we’ve done lately. To assume that five goals is going to be a standard, I think that might be pushing it. Again tonight when we countered our speed was on display and it was evident and we were able to counterpunch and capitalize.”
When asked about the performance of his star goaltender who characteristically has always had slow starts, Vigneault went on to say, “This was his best game so far this year, there’s no doubt. I don’t think we gave up more chances, we gave up more shots. The difference was Hank (Lundqvist) made those two breakaway saves and when we had opportunities, we were able to capitalize. We got that five-goal lead there and Hank was able to find his rhythm. There was no doubt in anybody’s mind that he was going to find it, and tonight he was very, very good.”
As for Lundqvist who most certainly has to feel comfortable having such a big lead on a daily basis he not only praised the teams play but management as well by stating, “I think management has been doing a great job – a lot of video, a lot of talking about details of the game to try to get it right early on. There’s always a process to try to get everything right and you can’t expect it to be perfect right away, but a lot of things are now clicking”.
The praise also continued for the new guys who have come in and that have adjusted to the style of play, “I’m super impressed, even with the new guys coming in here adjusting to this style. Sometimes that takes time but I think we have confidence in our system and one another, and we believe in it and try to execute it. We will just try to build on this.”
Another standout was Girardi who really has turned things around coming off a bad year last year. He was asked to compare the start from last year to this year from a personal standpoint, “Obviously it wasn’t the best of years for everybody, and myself personally. I had the attitude of just saying block out everything, just go every night, play my hardest and whatever happens, happens.”
The Rangers will now focus on the Edmonton Oilers who have had a really good start to their season as well (7-2-1). Many of the Rangers know these types of games won’t happen every night so they need to be prepared for those nail biting games.
The Rangers have posted a 6-1-0 record at home this season and have outscored opponents, 32-14, in their first seven games at MSG in 2016-17. The Blueshirts have earned at least one point in 67 of their last 87 home games, dating back to Oct. 16, 2014 (58-20-9 record).
Over the last six games, the Rangers have outscored their opponents, 21-4, in the second period and third period (15-3 in the second period, 6-1 in the third period).
Jimmy Vesey posted his first career three-point game (one goal, two assists) and posted a plus-two rating in tonight’s contest. He is the first Rangers rookie to register six goals in the team’s first 10 games of a season since Darren Turcotte in 1989-90. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Vesey is the first Ranger who has registered six goals in his first 10 career NHL games (all 10 games played with the Rangers) since Sergei Nemchinov in 1991-92 (Note: Nemchinov was not considered a rookie since he was 27 years old in his first NHL season). He has registered a multi-point game in three of the last six games (five goals, three assists over the span). As of the conclusion of tonight’s game, he is tied for first among NHL rookies in goals this season (six), and he also leads the Rangers in goals in 2016-17.