New York Rangers – Last Word on HockeyNew York Rangers Winners and Losers of November 2017Ryan McDonagh: Good To Be BackNew York Rangers Center Mika Zibanejad Diagnosed with ConcussionNew York Rangers Center Mika Zibanejad Sidelined with Upper Body InjuryRangers Forward Boo Nieves Out with Lower Body InjuryBrendan Smith Eager to Prove Worth on Rangers Blue LineNew York Rangers Power Play: Refreshed and Dangerous

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The New York Rangers season did a complete 180 in the month of November, almost erasing their horrendous October. The Rangers completed the month with a 9-3-0 record, putting themselves back in playoff contention. Unlike October, the losers of the month are few as the majority of the team found their winning stride and elevated their play.

Winners

Henrik Lundqvist

The King saw a valiant return in November, starting every single game. Lundqvist only lost two games throughout the month. As a result of letting in three goals in the first period, he was pulled from their tilt with the Florida Panthers on November 28th. However, this is not surprising since he’d played every single game before this.

At 35, that workload is incredible. With the statistics Lundqvist pulled throughout November, you’d never know he was in his 13th NHL season except for his seasoned expertise and execution. In the 11 games he started, Lundqvist posted a .934 save percentage. He also stopped a season-tying high of 42 shots against the Columbus Blue Jackets, allowing only two goals in that match up. At a time the Rangers needed their best player to be just that, Lundqvist delivered.

Chris Kreider and the KZB

Kreider was one of last month’s losers. He took offensive zone penalties far too often and his scoring production was miles below his potential. In fact, Kreider only scored three goals throughout the month of October. He more than doubled his goal total in November, earning seven more for a total of 10, the third most on the Blueshirts. The Boston-native also picked up three assists throughout November to bring his point total to 16.

Kickstarting Kreider was absolutely essential to the Rangers November turnaround. The KZB line with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich is the Rangers most productive weapon. Zibanejad sits second to Michael Grabner with 11 goals and Buchnevich sits fourth with nine goals. This line’s chemistry has been evident since its inception last season and it continues to impress time and time again. The three have 58 points this season, more than Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast and Jimmy Vesey combined.

Brady Skjei

Brady Skjei, often referred to as the future of the Rangers blueline, got a chance to prove his talent this month. With McDonagh sidelined with an abdominal strain, Skjei’s minutes spiked. The Minnesota-native hit a season high of 27:49 minutes against the Vancouver Canucks on November 26th, picking up the win. While his points are not astronomical, his ability to jump up into the offensive play made him an asset with McDonagh out. Skjei is a +6 throughout 26 games this season.

Skjei’s best play came in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings. Sandwiched between two defenders, Skjei did a spin-o-rama, collected his first pass’ deflection, passed to a wide-open Mats Zuccarello who nailed the puck into the net. It’s this intelligent and powerful hockey play that gives the Rangers real chances to capitalize on good looks. Six of Skjei’s nine points came in the month of November. This young gun is only scratching the surface of his potential and it’s fantastic to watch.

Jesper Fast

Jesper Fast is an underrated and unlikely hero for the New York Rangers time and time again. All puns aside, his speed allows him to get in on the forecheck and create opportunities in front of the net. He finally earned the goals he deserved in November 22nd’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Fast had two goals in that tilt and spent 15:41 minutes on ice. Since returning from his hip surgery in the off-season, Fast is already more than halfway to beating his points record from last year. With 11 points in 21 games, it’s likely Fast will surpass his career high of 30 points this season.

While Fast is not a notable player for the tallies he puts up, his workmanship allows his teammates to feed off of his energy, especially in difficult situations. Fast’s surge of production definitely earned him a mention as a winner throughout the month of November.

Michael Grabner

Michael Grabner, the steal of 2016-17 has come back this year on a mission to prove his worth. This year, Grabner has netted 13 goals and leads the NHL in empty net tallies with six. There are fourteen players second to his empty net record, all tied at two. Grabner’s knack for stealing the puck and hot wheels elevate him above the rest when it comes to sealing the fate of the game. Grabner is currently a +11, the highest plus/minus on the Rangers by four points. As with his other “winning” counterparts, 10 of Grabner’s 15 points were earned in the month of November.

Against the Hurricanes, Grabner’s hat trick elevated the Rangers to a 5-1 win after a poor first-period start. It’s also worth noting that all of Grabner’s tallies were assisted by different players. Grabner meshes easily with the team, displaying valuable flexibility in the event of injuries to the forward lines. As the season trudges on this flexibility will be essential to keeping the Rangers afloat.

Losers

It’s nice to only have a couple of names to put in the loser column after it was such a robust group to begin the season. The names in this list are also not a surprise as their play has remained inconsistent at best.

Nick Holden

For some reason, Nick Holden remains a favourite in Alain Vigneault‘s book. This is an unanswerable question except by Vigneault himself. Holden continues to be a liability at crucial moments on the ice, especially as the minutes wind down. Holden was on the ice for the pivotal fifth goal for the Florida Panthers. Consequently, this squandered the Rangers monumental comeback with approximately a minute left to play. Those moments are crucial and a clumsy play in front of the net can cost your team two points.

Holden, at 30 years-old has no business playing with rookie mistakes. Most noteworthy are his 19 giveaways this season while playing an average of 17 minutes of ice time each game. Ultimately what makes Holden a loser for the month of November is his puck management. If he’s chosen to represent the team in the final minutes of the game, he should be a closer, which he is not.

Steven Kampfer

Kampfer is another lacklustre addition to the Rangers blue line that does little more than put up minutes on the clock as they wait for Skjei and Kevin Shattenkirk to hit the ice. Kampfer is a -3 on the season and has eight giveaways. While he’s not as bad as Holden, but to be Brendan Smith‘s replacement, one would expect something better. Throughout 13 games this season, he’s earned one point and spent 16 minutes in the penalty box.

Throughout Kampfer’s NHL career, he’s earned no more than 10 points in a season. To kick off December, Kampfer sat thanks to the return of McDonagh, a trend that should hopefully continue.

Main Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The post New York Rangers Winners and Losers of November 2017 appeared first on Last Word on Hockey.

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Henrik Lundqvist new york rangers vs montreal canadiens first round series recapThe New York Rangers season did a complete 180 in the month of November, almost erasing their horrendous October. The Rangers completed the month with a 9-3-0 record, putting themselves back in playoff contention. Unlike October, the losers of the month are few as the majority of the team found their winning stride and elevated their play.

Winners

Henrik Lundqvist

The King saw a valiant return in November, starting every single game. Lundqvist only lost two games throughout the month. As a result of letting in three goals in the first period, he was pulled from their tilt with the Florida Panthers on November 28th. However, this is not surprising since he’d played every single game before this.

At 35, that workload is incredible. With the statistics Lundqvist pulled throughout November, you’d never know he was in his 13th NHL season except for his seasoned expertise and execution. In the 11 games he started, Lundqvist posted a .934 save percentage. He also stopped a season-tying high of 42 shots against the Columbus Blue Jackets, allowing only two goals in that match up. At a time the Rangers needed their best player to be just that, Lundqvist delivered.

Chris Kreider and the KZB

Kreider was one of last month’s losers. He took offensive zone penalties far too often and his scoring production was miles below his potential. In fact, Kreider only scored three goals throughout the month of October. He more than doubled his goal total in November, earning seven more for a total of 10, the third most on the Blueshirts. The Boston-native also picked up three assists throughout November to bring his point total to 16.

Kickstarting Kreider was absolutely essential to the Rangers November turnaround. The KZB line with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich is the Rangers most productive weapon. Zibanejad sits second to Michael Grabner with 11 goals and Buchnevich sits fourth with nine goals. This line’s chemistry has been evident since its inception last season and it continues to impress time and time again. The three have 58 points this season, more than Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast and Jimmy Vesey combined.

Brady Skjei

Brady Skjei, often referred to as the future of the Rangers blueline, got a chance to prove his talent this month. With McDonagh sidelined with an abdominal strain, Skjei’s minutes spiked. The Minnesota-native hit a season high of 27:49 minutes against the Vancouver Canucks on November 26th, picking up the win. While his points are not astronomical, his ability to jump up into the offensive play made him an asset with McDonagh out. Skjei is a +6 throughout 26 games this season.

Skjei’s best play came in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings. Sandwiched between two defenders, Skjei did a spin-o-rama, collected his first pass’ deflection, passed to a wide-open Mats Zuccarello who nailed the puck into the net. It’s this intelligent and powerful hockey play that gives the Rangers real chances to capitalize on good looks. Six of Skjei’s nine points came in the month of November. This young gun is only scratching the surface of his potential and it’s fantastic to watch.

Jesper Fast

Jesper Fast is an underrated and unlikely hero for the New York Rangers time and time again. All puns aside, his speed allows him to get in on the forecheck and create opportunities in front of the net. He finally earned the goals he deserved in November 22nd’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Fast had two goals in that tilt and spent 15:41 minutes on ice. Since returning from his hip surgery in the off-season, Fast is already more than halfway to beating his points record from last year. With 11 points in 21 games, it’s likely Fast will surpass his career high of 30 points this season.

While Fast is not a notable player for the tallies he puts up, his workmanship allows his teammates to feed off of his energy, especially in difficult situations. Fast’s surge of production definitely earned him a mention as a winner throughout the month of November.

Michael Grabner

Michael Grabner, the steal of 2016-17 has come back this year on a mission to prove his worth. This year, Grabner has netted 13 goals and leads the NHL in empty net tallies with six. There are fourteen players second to his empty net record, all tied at two. Grabner’s knack for stealing the puck and hot wheels elevate him above the rest when it comes to sealing the fate of the game. Grabner is currently a +11, the highest plus/minus on the Rangers by four points. As with his other “winning” counterparts, 10 of Grabner’s 15 points were earned in the month of November.

Against the Hurricanes, Grabner’s hat trick elevated the Rangers to a 5-1 win after a poor first-period start. It’s also worth noting that all of Grabner’s tallies were assisted by different players. Grabner meshes easily with the team, displaying valuable flexibility in the event of injuries to the forward lines. As the season trudges on this flexibility will be essential to keeping the Rangers afloat.

Losers

It’s nice to only have a couple of names to put in the loser column after it was such a robust group to begin the season. The names in this list are also not a surprise as their play has remained inconsistent at best.

Nick Holden

For some reason, Nick Holden remains a favourite in Alain Vigneault‘s book. This is an unanswerable question except by Vigneault himself. Holden continues to be a liability at crucial moments on the ice, especially as the minutes wind down. Holden was on the ice for the pivotal fifth goal for the Florida Panthers. Consequently, this squandered the Rangers monumental comeback with approximately a minute left to play. Those moments are crucial and a clumsy play in front of the net can cost your team two points.

Holden, at 30 years-old has no business playing with rookie mistakes. Most noteworthy are his 19 giveaways this season while playing an average of 17 minutes of ice time each game. Ultimately what makes Holden a loser for the month of November is his puck management. If he’s chosen to represent the team in the final minutes of the game, he should be a closer, which he is not.

Steven Kampfer

Kampfer is another lacklustre addition to the Rangers blue line that does little more than put up minutes on the clock as they wait for Skjei and Kevin Shattenkirk to hit the ice. Kampfer is a -3 on the season and has eight giveaways. While he’s not as bad as Holden, but to be Brendan Smith‘s replacement, one would expect something better. Throughout 13 games this season, he’s earned one point and spent 16 minutes in the penalty box.

Throughout Kampfer’s NHL career, he’s earned no more than 10 points in a season. To kick off December, Kampfer sat thanks to the return of McDonagh, a trend that should hopefully continue.

 

Main Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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Ryan McDonagh

Ryan McDonagh is back on the ice tonight after recovering from an abdominal strain that led him to miss the last four consecutive games for the New York Rangers. The Madison Square Garden faithful breathe a sigh of relief as the devoted captain is deemed fit enough to return this evening against the Carolina Hurricanes.

After a successful training session on Thursday, McDonagh spoke to RangersTV about his injury progress. He stated, “It’s come a long way here in the last few days, felt really good, not really thinking about it anymore and obviously that’s a good sign.”

Ryan McDonagh has been fortunate as the Rangers have won three out of four without him in the lineup this season. However, it has been noted in the past that the Rangers defense has sometimes been inconsistent. The last game against the Florida Panthers was an example of this. Defenceman Brendan Smith’s sloppy play on the left side led to Denis Malgin scoring the game-winning goal late in the third period.

What Does The Captain Bring To The Table?

McDonagh has always played well under pressure, rarely does he give away possession in his own zone. He also helps to move the puck up the ice and create offensive chances. This is identified in part, with a CF% of 52.3 (fourth highest on the team).

Henrik Lundqvist will certainly benefit from having the captain’s much needed support back again as this is his 14th game straight between the pipes. McDonagh clears the crease effectively and has been known to put his body on the line for his team- ranked second in blocked shots (942). He often faces the other team’s top players.

With tough games coming up, all against a number of very strong Metropolitan teams and with the wild card spot within reach; the Rangers need not only McDonagh, but every other team member to step up to achieve a win.

COLUMBUS, OH – JANUARY 7: Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers controls the puck during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 7, 2017, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

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Ryan McDonaghRyan McDonagh is back on the ice tonight after recovering from an abdominal strain that led him to miss the last four consecutive games for the New York Rangers. The Madison Square Garden faithful breathe a sigh of relief as the devoted captain is deemed fit enough to return this evening against the Carolina Hurricanes.

After a successful training session on Thursday, McDonagh spoke to RangersTV about his injury progress. He stated, “It’s come a long way here in the last few days, felt really good, not really thinking about it anymore and obviously that’s a good sign.”

Ryan McDonagh has been fortunate as the Rangers have won three out of four without him in the lineup this season. However, it has been noted in the past that the Rangers defense has sometimes been inconsistent. The last game against the Florida Panthers was an example of this. Defenceman Brendan Smith’s sloppy play on the left side led to Denis Malgin scoring the game-winning goal late in the third period.

What Does The Captain Bring To The Table?

McDonagh has always played well under pressure, rarely does he give away possession in his own zone. He also helps to move the puck up the ice and create offensive chances. This is identified in part, with a CF% of 52.3 (fourth highest on the team).

Henrik Lundqvist will certainly benefit from having the captain’s much needed support back again as this is his 14th game straight between the pipes. McDonagh clears the crease effectively and has been known to put his body on the line for his team- ranked second in blocked shots (942). He often faces the other team’s top players.

With tough games coming up, all against a number of very strong Metropolitan teams and with the wild card spot within reach; the Rangers need not only McDonagh, but every other team member to step up to achieve a win.

 

COLUMBUS, OH – JANUARY 7: Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers controls the puck during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 7, 2017, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

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Update: Mika Zibanejad is not practicing with the team today. It has been revealed that the centre has been diagnosed with a concussion. He is out indefinitely.

In light of the news, the Rangers also made a minor trade to improve their centre depth while Zibanejad recovers. The acquired Peter Holland from the Montreal Canadiens for winger Adam Cracknell. Holland is an NHL veteran, but has been in the AHL this season. He has 18 points for the Laval Rocket.

Below is our story from Tuesday.

The New York Rangers lost number one center Mika Zibanejad to an upper-body injury just before puck drop Tuesday night. Zibanejad has been the Rangers top goal scorer with 11 tallies this season.

The Rangers hit a wall tonight when Zibanejad suddenly left the lineup with an upper body injury. He was slated to play on a line with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich before the Blueshirts were forced to make a change. David Desharnais took his position for the night.

Losing Zibanejad is an immediate crisis for the Rangers. He’s gracefully stepped into Derek Stepan‘s former role this season with sparkling offensive play. Zibanejad has 11 goals and 11 assists for a total of 22 points in 24 games this season. His chemistry on the top line with Kreider and Buchnevich, “the KZB” has yielded the majority of the Rangers offense this year. The three have a combined 52 points this season and counting.

Last year, Zibanejad’s arrival in New York caused quite an uproar with the Blueshirt faithful. He arrived from the Ottawa Senators for playoff favorite, Derick Brassard. Before playing with the Senators full-time, Zibanejad played for Sweden and the Senator’s AHL team, the Binghamton Senators.

However promising Zibanejad’s performance looked for the Rangers, it became stunted due to a broken fibula last November. He ended the season playing 56 games, earning 37 points. Lucky for the Rangers, gambling on his youth and budding talent has paid off greatly. Brassard has 17 points in 22 games with the Senators this year.

If Zibanejad’s injury causes an extended absence, call-ups from the Hartford Wolf Pack would be imminent. Vinni Lettieri would be a solid candidate for his shot at the NHL and as would Filip Chytil. In the meantime, the rest of the Rangers offensive needs to fill in the gaps. The defense did so for Ryan McDonagh‘s absence, there’s no reason the Rangers couldn’t do it for Zibanejad as well.

Zibanejad signed a five-year contract extension with the Rangers this off-season valued at $26.75 million.

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Update: Mika Zibanejad is not practicing with the team today. It has been revealed that the centre has been diagnosed with a concussion. He is out indefinitely.

In light of the news, the Rangers also made a minor trade to improve their centre depth while Zibanejad recovers. The acquired Peter Holland from the Montreal Canadiens for winger Adam Cracknell. Holland is an NHL veteran, but has been in the AHL this season. He has 18 points for the Laval Rocket.

 

Below is our story from Tuesday.

The New York Rangers lost number one center Mika Zibanejad to an upper-body injury just before puck drop Tuesday night. Zibanejad has been the Rangers top goal scorer with 11 tallies this season.

The Rangers hit a wall tonight when Zibanejad suddenly left the lineup with an upper body injury. He was slated to play on a line with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich before the Blueshirts were forced to make a change. David Desharnais took his position for the night.

Losing Zibanejad is an immediate crisis for the Rangers. He’s gracefully stepped into Derek Stepan‘s former role this season with sparkling offensive play. Zibanejad has 11 goals and 11 assists for a total of 22 points in 24 games this season. His chemistry on the top line with Kreider and Buchnevich, “the KZB” has yielded the majority of the Rangers offense this year. The three have a combined 52 points this season and counting.

Last year, Zibanejad’s arrival in New York caused quite an uproar with the Blueshirt faithful. He arrived from the Ottawa Senators for playoff favorite, Derick Brassard. Before playing with the Senators full-time, Zibanejad played for Sweden and the Senator’s AHL team, the Binghamton Senators.

However promising Zibanejad’s performance looked for the Rangers, it became stunted due to a broken fibula last November. He ended the season playing 56 games, earning 37 points. Lucky for the Rangers, gambling on his youth and budding talent has paid off greatly. Brassard has 17 points in 22 games with the Senators this year.

If Zibanejad’s injury causes an extended absence, call-ups from the Hartford Wolf Pack would be imminent. Vinni Lettieri would be a solid candidate for his shot at the NHL and as would Filip Chytil. In the meantime, the rest of the Rangers offensive needs to fill in the gaps. The defense did so for Ryan McDonagh‘s absence, there’s no reason the Rangers couldn’t do it for Zibanejad as well.

Zibanejad signed a five-year contract extension with the Rangers this off-season valued at $26.75 million.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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The New York Rangers lost number one center Mika Zibanejad to an upper-body injury just before puck drop Tuesday night. Zibanejad has been the Rangers top goal scorer with 11 tallies this season.

The Rangers hit a wall tonight when Zibanejad suddenly left the lineup with an upper body injury. He was slated to play on a line with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich before the Blueshirts were forced to make a change. David Desharnais took his position for the night.

Losing Zibanejad is an immediate crisis for the Rangers. He’s gracefully stepped into Derek Stepan‘s former role this season with sparkling offensive play. Zibanejad has 11 goals and 11 assists for a total of 22 points in 24 games this season. His chemistry on the top line with Kreider and Buchnevich, “the KZB” has yielded the majority of the Rangers offense this year. The three have a combined 52 points this season and counting.

Last year, Zibanejad’s arrival in New York caused quite an uproar with the Blueshirt faithful. He arrived from the Ottawa Senators for playoff favorite, Derick Brassard. Before playing with the Senators full-time, Zibanejad played for Sweden and the Senator’s AHL team, the Binghamton Senators.

However promising Zibanejad’s performance looked for the Rangers, it became stunted due to a broken fibula last November. He ended the season playing 56 games, earning 37 points. Lucky for the Rangers, gambling on his youth and budding talent has paid off greatly. Brassard has 17 points in 22 games with the Senators this year.

If Zibanejad’s injury causes an extended absence, call ups from the Hartford Wolf Pack would be imminent. Vinni Lettieri would be a solid candidate for his shot at the NHL and as would Filip Chytil. In the meantime, the rest of the Rangers offensive needs to fill in the gaps. The defense did so for Ryan McDonagh‘s absence, there’s no reason the Rangers couldn’t do it for Zibanejad as well.

Zibanejad signed a five-year contract extension with the Rangers this off-season valued at $26.75 million.

Main Photo:
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The post New York Rangers Center Mika Zibanejad Sidelined with Upper Body Injury appeared first on Last Word on Hockey.

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The New York Rangers lost number one center Mika Zibanejad to an upper-body injury just before puck drop Tuesday night. Zibanejad has been the Rangers top goal scorer with 11 tallies this season.

The Rangers hit a wall tonight when Zibanejad suddenly left the lineup with an upper body injury. He was slated to play on a line with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich before the Blueshirts were forced to make a change. David Desharnais took his position for the night.

Losing Zibanejad is an immediate crisis for the Rangers. He’s gracefully stepped into Derek Stepan‘s former role this season with sparkling offensive play. Zibanejad has 11 goals and 11 assists for a total of 22 points in 24 games this season. His chemistry on the top line with Kreider and Buchnevich, “the KZB” has yielded the majority of the Rangers offense this year. The three have a combined 52 points this season and counting.

Last year, Zibanejad’s arrival in New York caused quite an uproar with the Blueshirt faithful. He arrived from the Ottawa Senators for playoff favorite, Derick Brassard. Before playing with the Senators full-time, Zibanejad played for Sweden and the Senator’s AHL team, the Binghamton Senators.

However promising Zibanejad’s performance looked for the Rangers, it became stunted due to a broken fibula last November. He ended the season playing 56 games, earning 37 points. Lucky for the Rangers, gambling on his youth and budding talent has paid off greatly. Brassard has 17 points in 22 games with the Senators this year.

If Zibanejad’s injury causes an extended absence, call ups from the Hartford Wolf Pack would be imminent. Vinni Lettieri would be a solid candidate for his shot at the NHL and as would Filip Chytil. In the meantime, the rest of the Rangers offensive needs to fill in the gaps. The defense did so for Ryan McDonagh‘s absence, there’s no reason the Rangers couldn’t do it for Zibanejad as well.

Zibanejad signed a five-year contract extension with the Rangers this off-season valued at $26.75 million.

Main Photo:
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New York Rangers forward Boo Nieves left Friday’s tilt against the Detroit Red Wings with a lower-body injury. Nieves left the second period 2:53 in.

The Rangers will be down a forward as Nieves exited Friday night’s game with a lower-body injury. The recent call-up from the Hartford Wolf Pack was favoring an undisclosed injury in the second half of the first period and ultimately exited the game. The timetable for his return is unknown.

Nieves was called up to the Rangers on October 24th to play the Arizona Coyotes at Madison Square Garden. He registered three assists for three points on centering a line with Pavel Buchnevich and Michael Grabner. Both assists accompanied Buchnevich’s two goals. The three were all named stars of the game.

Despite his glittering debut, he has no points since. With Hartford this season he also earned three points. In 40 games with the Wolf Pack last season he tallied 18 points including six goals. A University of Michigan alumni, Nieves earned 109 points in his four collegiate seasons. Nieves also served as assistant captain during his senior season with Michigan.

In Nieves’ absence, the Rangers will likely call up another Wolf Pack forward. Vinni Lettieri is a rumored favorite for the fill-in assignment. Lettieri had a great training camp with the Rangers this preseason. Lettieri has 13 points, including eight goals in Hartford this season. The Rangers are already thin on choices for center deployment, Nieves’ absence will require flexibility from the rest of the Rangers forwards.

One of those players will definitely be J.T. Miller who has matured greatly to enter the 2017-18 season. Miller’s strong play has been visibly eager to get on the board for the Rangers lately, though he’s been short on puck luck. Miller has 16 points in 22 games this season. His last goal was November 2nd against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nieves will join Captain Ryan McDonagh on the Rangers injury list.

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New York Rangers forward Boo Nieves left Friday’s tilt against the Detroit Red Wings with a lower-body injury. Nieves left the second period 2:53 in.

The Rangers will be down a forward as Nieves exited Friday night’s game with a lower-body injury. The recent call-up from the Hartford Wolf Pack was favoring an undisclosed injury in the second half of the first period and ultimately exited the game. The timetable for his return is unknown.

Nieves was called up to the Rangers on October 24th to play the Arizona Coyotes at Madison Square Garden. He registered three assists for three points on centering a line with Pavel Buchnevich and Michael Grabner. Both assists accompanied Buchnevich’s two goals. The three were all named stars of the game.

Despite his glittering debut, he has no points since. With Hartford this season he also earned three points. In 40 games with the Wolf Pack last season he tallied 18 points including six goals. A University of Michigan alumni, Nieves earned 109 points in his four collegiate seasons. Nieves also served as assistant captain during his senior season with Michigan.

In Nieves’ absence, the Rangers will likely call up another Wolf Pack forward. Vinni Lettieri is a rumored favorite for the fill-in assignment. Lettieri had a great training camp with the Rangers this preseason. Lettieri has 13 points, including eight goals in Hartford this season. The Rangers are already thin on choices for center deployment, Nieves’ absence will require flexibility from the rest of the Rangers forwards.

One of those players will definitely be J.T. Miller who has matured greatly to enter the 2017-18 season. Miller’s strong play has been visibly eager to get on the board for the Rangers lately, though he’s been short on puck luck. Miller has 16 points in 22 games this season. His last goal was November 2nd against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nieves will join Captain Ryan McDonagh on the Rangers injury list.

Main Photo:

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http://lastwordonhockey.com/2017/11/24/rangers-forward-boo-nieves-lower-body-injury/feed/ 0 http://lastwordonhockey.com/2017/11/22/brendan-smith-eager-prove-worth-blueshirts-blue-line/ http://lastwordonhockey.com/2017/11/22/brendan-smith-eager-prove-worth-blueshirts-blue-line/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 14:00:37 +0000

http://lwosonhockey.ms.lastwordonsports.com/?p=19324

After being a healthy scratch for six games, New York Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith is eager to prove his play is worth the paycheck. Now, with captain Ryan McDonagh out with injury, his chance to step up is now.

Ice Cold Start

Smith, drafted 27th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2007 NHL Draft, arrived to the Rangers last year at the trade deadline. Smith had a strong showing in the playoffs last season with the Rangers. His play motivated the Rangers to lock him in for another four years at $17.4 million. Unfortunately, a promising off-season paper unfolded into the opposite once October hit.

The Rangers ice-cold start to the 2017-18 season saw the worst of Smith. His poor play ultimately earned him a benching, which turned into another, another and then another. Smith’s turnovers in the offensive zone and lack of finesse demoted him to riding the pine this season, when he should have been skating on the Rangers second defence pair. Lucky for him, the Rangers six-game win streak was snapped against the Chicago Blackhawks last week. The loss allowed head coach Alain Vigneault to make roster changes and Smith drew back into the lineup.

Returning to the Lineup

Steven Kampfer and Marc Staal‘s defensive collapse in the third period against the Blackhawks provided the case for more grit in the Rangers line-up. Smith can to oblige. In his first game back against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Smith earned two hits and three shots on goal. In the Rangers tilt against the Ottawa Senators, Smith was playing for his worth and it showed. While Smith was involved in a controversial hit on Mark Borowiecki, earning a game misconduct and five-minute major, his toughness is something the Rangers desperately need on their blue line.

The Rangers play a speed game but there’s been a definite lack in their grit, especially in front of the net. Smith adds a fear-factor for opponents entering the Rangers defensive zone. That has been missing from the Rangers this year. Tanner Glass did not count Rangerstown. Smith is a great puck mover and has great skating abilities. His biggest strength is his versatility. Smith can play both the right and left side of defence. This allows Vigneault to use Smith on the Rangers weaker right side.

The Blueshirts have been very fortunate having an elite goaltender such as Henrik Lundqvist. However, as Lundqvist ages, the defense needs to step up to the plate. The Rangers defense performed very well against the Senators. They had 27 blocked shots to help earn a shutout. Smith, along with Brady Skjei and Kevin Shattenkirk are demonstrating that the Rangers once faltering blue line is becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Opportunity Knocks

Smith having a few games back under his belt is fortuitous for the Rangers. Ryan McDonagh is out with an abdominal strain and wont play against the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday. With his timeline for return unknown, Smith is going to be relied upon in his absence. He needs to rise to the occasion to keep the Rangers in the race for cup contention, a feat impossible without a strong defence.

Good luck Brendan Smith, your time is now.

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After being a healthy scratch for six games, New York Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith is eager to prove his play is worth the paycheck. Now, with captain Ryan McDonagh out with injury, his chance to step up is now.

Ice Cold Start

Smith, drafted 27th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2007 NHL Draft, arrived to the Rangers last year at the trade deadline. Smith had a strong showing in the playoffs last season with the Rangers. His play motivated the Rangers to lock him in for another four years at $17.4 million. Unfortunately, a promising off-season paper unfolded into the opposite once October hit.

The Rangers ice-cold start to the 2017-18 season saw the worst of Smith. His poor play ultimately earned him a benching, which turned into another, another and then another. Smith’s turnovers in the offensive zone and lack of finesse demoted him to riding the pine this season, when he should have been skating on the Rangers second defence pair. Lucky for him, the Rangers six-game win streak was snapped against the Chicago Blackhawks last week. The loss allowed head coach Alain Vigneault to make roster changes and Smith drew back into the lineup.

Returning to the Lineup

Steven Kampfer and Marc Staal‘s defensive collapse in the third period against the Blackhawks provided the case for more grit in the Rangers line-up. Smith can to oblige. In his first game back against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Smith earned two hits and three shots on goal. In the Rangers tilt against the Ottawa Senators, Smith was playing for his worth and it showed. While Smith was involved in a controversial hit on Mark Borowiecki, earning a game misconduct and five-minute major, his toughness is something the Rangers desperately need on their blue line.

The Rangers play a speed game but there’s been a definite lack in their grit, especially in front of the net. Smith adds a fear-factor for opponents entering the Rangers defensive zone. That has been missing from the Rangers this year. Tanner Glass did not count Rangerstown. Smith is a great puck mover and has great skating abilities. His biggest strength is his versatility. Smith can play both the right and left side of defence. This allows Vigneault to use Smith on the Rangers weaker right side.

The Blueshirts have been very fortunate having an elite goaltender such as Henrik Lundqvist. However, as Lundqvist ages, the defense needs to step up to the plate. The Rangers defense performed very well against the Senators. They had 27 blocked shots to help earn a shutout. Smith, along with Brady Skjei and Kevin Shattenkirk are demonstrating that the Rangers once faltering blue line is becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Opportunity Knocks

Smith having a few games back under his belt is fortuitous for the Rangers. Ryan McDonagh is out with an abdominal strain and wont play against the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday. With his timeline for return unknown, Smith is going to be relied upon in his absence. He needs to rise to the occasion to keep the Rangers in the race for cup contention, a feat impossible without a strong defence.

Good luck Brendan Smith, your time is now.

Embed from Getty Images

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http://lastwordonhockey.com/2017/11/22/brendan-smith-eager-prove-worth-blueshirts-blue-line/feed/ 0 http://lastwordonhockey.com/2017/11/08/new-york-rangers-power-play-refreshed-and-dangerous/ http://lastwordonhockey.com/2017/11/08/new-york-rangers-power-play-refreshed-and-dangerous/#respond Thu, 09 Nov 2017 02:15:39 +0000

http://lwosonhockey.ms.lastwordonsports.com/?p=18871
Mika Zibanejad

The New York Rangers power-play is red-hot coming off Monday’s victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ranked sixth in the league, their power play shows no signs of letting up.

New York Rangers Power Play: Refreshed and Dangerous

The Rangers closed out the 2016-17 playoffs with an awful power play. 7.7 percent efficiency to be exact. In a league that’s so tight, especially in the playoffs, it never hurts to be able to take advantage of your man advantage. This year, the Rangers have a strong understanding of their power play and are making teams pay. The tool at the center of their success: Mika Zibanejad.

The Mika Effect

Tremendous pressure rests on Zibanejad’s shoulders as the Rangers new number one center for the 2017-18 season. He quickly rose to the occasion scoring five goals in the first four games. Currently, Zibanejad has 17 points in 16 games, eight goals, and nine assists. Zibanejad, both a comfortable goal scorer and elite playmaker, is lethal when undefended.

Fortunately, Zibanejad has proven himself effective in critical situations, such as offensive zone faceoffs. He won two on Monday against the Blue Jackets leading to two power-play goals for the Rangers. On the first unit with Chris Kreider, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Mats Zuccarello, Zibanejad has an arsenal of dangerous players ready to shoot.

Kreider netted a slap shot within three seconds of Zac Dalpe heading to the box for elbowing. Pavel Buchnevich scored less than ten seconds into David Savard‘s penalty. Zibanejad earned primary assists on both goals.

Shattenkirk Found His Groove

Shattenkirk found his groove with Zibanejad, which is making the power play cohesive and a threat. Exactly what its failed to be for the last several seasons for the Rangers. Shattenkirk has notched eight power-play points this season, including two goals. Zibanejad has 10 points on the man-advantage. Their continued presence on the first unit has allowed them to communicate better and allowed them to understand their positioning on the ice much better. Shattenkirk has been able to find Zibanejad open to make the crucial play.

The power play, while on a hot streak, has still been hot and cold this season. However, as of late, the Rangers have found a recipe for success.

Main Photo: Mika Zibanejad celebrates scoring a goal in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 9, 2017 in New York City. (Phot by Getty Images Sport)

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