If you are a New York Rangers fan, life is pretty good at this moment. Two games into the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and guess what -the Blueshirts are up 2-0 and dominating their rivals, the New Jersey Devils. Even more importantly, the Rangers look like the team they should have been this past season. Better late than never, but remember one important thing – this is the playoffs, and anything can and will happen.
The Rangers are firing on all cylinders at this point.
If Gerard Gallant was planning on saving the best for the playoffs, his plan is genuinely coming to fruition. What have the Rangers done wrong in the past two games against the Devils? In reality, the Blueshirts have dominated every phase of hockey, from controlling the power play to simply doing what they do best. Patrick Kane has carved a niche into the Rangers’ playoff history with this first playoff goal as a Blueshirt on Thursday night and added two more assists in the 5-1 beatdown of the Devils (ironically, the Rangers won the first game by an identical 5-1 score.)
Chris Kreider moved into the Rangers record book as well with his two goals on Thursday night and is now the leading playoff goal scorer in franchise history. Even more importantly, the Rangers’ offensive attack has rediscovered the art of the forecheck, and watching the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko, Chris Kreider, and Patrick Kane throwing their bodies around to contain Jack Hughes and the vaunted Devils’ offensive attack has been a sight to behold.
The Rangers are simply in control of the ice and let you know it.
The New Jersey Devils were incredibly successful this past season as one of the great offensive attacking teams in the NHL, and this new offensive shift paved the way for the Devils’ strong finish in the Metro Division. There’s an old saying in sports: “Offense wins games, defense wins championships,” and the New York Rangers epitomize that mantra. Blueshirt captain and blueliner Jacob Trouba had eight hits on his own Thursday night to add to the physical domination of the Devils. In fact, the Rangers registered 32 total hits in Game 1 and 39 hits on Thursday night, with 17 of those hits in the first period alone. When you physically dominate and intimidate your opponent, your odds of winning go up exponentially.
Igor Shesterkin is back to his Vezina Trophy form again.
While Igor Shesterkin had a relatively good season this past year, he was off a bit from his 2021-22 Vezina Trophy form. Nevertheless, the old Shesterkin has found his way again and has been lights-out in the net against Jack Hughes and Company. On the other hand, Devils’ goaltender Vitek Vanecek has been systematically torn about by the Rangers’ offensive onslaught and is looking for Devils’ head coach Lindy Ruff to possibly pull Vanecek in favor of allowing backup Akira Schmid a chance to prove himself. Yes, the Rangers are up 2-0 and look to be in control. However, this is sports, and anything can and will happen. Stay tuned for the outcome of this one.