New York – After all the pomp and circumstance of the season and home opener for the New York Rangers there was hockey to be played and the Blueshirts didn’t live up to the task. They fell at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. The same Avalanche team that won 22 total games last season. Sure, it’s a brand new season but that was not the result you wanted to see from the Rangers.
The boys in blue found themselves down 2-0 fairly quick in the opening period of the season but Mika Zibanejad scored both of the Rangers opening goals on the power play to tie the game as the first period came to a close. The Rangers were 2-for-6 (9:53) on the power play in the contest. New York recorded at least two power play goals in a game 10 times last season. The line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Pavel Buchnevich tallied three points (two goals, one assist) and registered 14 shots on goal in tonight’s contest.
The Rangers were slow to start but had quality chances throughout the night. The difference was Avs net minder Semyon Varlamov who stopped 37 of 39 shots in the contest. You can make the case the Rangers had high end opportunities but they just couldn’t find the back of the net.
For the homecoming kid, Kevin Shattenkirk tallied his first assist/point as a Ranger, led the Rangers with three blocked shots, and recorded two shots on goal while skating in a team-high 23:48 of ice time in his Rangers debut. Shattenkirk has now recorded 299 points in his NHL career. When asked about playing his first regular season game as a Ranger, he went on to say, “I think the result still stings right now. When I look back on it a long time from now it will obviously be a great moment for me. It’s still a special night in my career. But right now I think I am just a little upset with the result and some plays out there that I felt like I could have had a better effect on the game and helped our team out a little bit more.”
Henrik Lundqvist looked somewhat out of place last night as two of the four goals given up could have been saved. When asked about his comfortability he went on to say, “I think the biggest thing when you haven’t played for 10 days, you just try to go out there and build your game. We talked about going into this game that their strength is their speed and transition game. Looking at the result here and what happened, I think that’s where they really hurt us – in the odd-man rushes when their D jumped in almost every time to make it a 3-on-2 or 4-on-3. Other than that, I thought we played really well, good energy, we created a lot. In the third, we definitely had our chances to tie this game up.”
From a Rangers player and coaches stand point it was a solid hockey game in their opinion, some could say otherwise and they just didn’t have the edge. Head coach Alain Vigneault, when asked about the overall game he said, “I thought it was a good hockey game. Both teams had some good looks. There is no doubt that their defense beat us up the ice a couple times and our gap could have been just a little bit tighter. We would have taken some of those opportunities away, but the counter side to that is I thought we played fast and had a lot of good looks. Best player on the ice was their goaltender tonight. He played a great game and had some big saves.”
When asked about 18-year-old Filip Chytil who, made his National Hockey League debut, the coach had some good things to say, “He had that great look right at the beginning of the game, that 2-on-1 there. I think if he makes that play there it gets him going. Then because of all the specialty time, power play and penalty killing, he didn’t get out there as much. But it was a first game for a young man. I’m sure he was excited and he’ll be better next game.”
The Rangers get back at on Saturday night when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs; a team coming off a 7-2 opening win and a team with lots of talent. The Rangers will look to bounce back and grab their first win of the season.
David Desharnais won seven of 11 faceoffs (63.6%), including three of five faceoffs in the defensive zone (60.0%), and registered three shots on goal while making his Rangers debut in tonight’s contest.
Filip Chytil made his NHL/Rangers debut in tonight’s contest. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Chytil, who is 18 years and 30 days old, became the fourth-youngest player to appear in a game with the Rangers in franchise history; the only players who were younger were Harry Lumley (17 years, 42 days on Dec. 23, 1943), Len Wharton (17 years, 81 days on Mar. 4, 1945), and Don Raleigh (17 years, 125 days on Oct. 30, 1943). In addition, Chytil became the first 18-year-old to appear in a game with the Rangers since Dan Blackburn on Apr. 13, 2002 at Philadelphia, as well as the first 18-year-old skater (forward or defenseman) to play in a game with the Rangers since Manny Malhotra on Apr. 18, 1999 vs. Pittsburgh (the contest was Wayne Gretzky’s final NHL game). Also according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Chytil is the sixth-youngest player to appear in an NHL game since expansion (1967-68 season); the only players who were younger were Patrick Marleau, Grant Mulvey, Martin Lapointe, Jordan Staal, and Chris Joseph. Chytil is also the first player to wear jersey No. 72 in a regular season game in franchise history.