The Day of the Dead saw a Ranger team that is alive and well and prospering from their return home to the completely renovated Madison Square Garden.
Granted, they lost the home opener. It was a lackluster performance compounded by the ice being tilted against them. Last Monday was more about the new Garden and less about the Rangers.
But, the next three home games (I count the game at Nassau as a home game) saw this Ranger team start to come together under the puck possession, shoot first system Alain Vigneault has been preaching. The choir is starting to listen.
In my opinion, these last three victories have more to do with chemistry and less to do with systems. If you want to a fire you need a spark. If you want the fire to spread, you need a accelerant. In the last three games, Mats Zuccarello and Carl Hagelin are the accelerants. Being at home in front of the their own fans is the spark.
An accelerant can be any substance that can bond, mix, or disturb another substance and cause an increase in the speed of a natural, or artificial chemical process.
Hagelin’s first goal was a backhand shot. Not only does Hagelin have speed, he’s stealthy. In today’s NHL we see a plethora of slapshots and wristshots and not much else. Creative players are few and far between. How many times do we see players miss out on good scoring opportunities because they have to get the puck on their forehand and tee up the shot. Yawn.
Hagelin, Kreider and Zuccarello are fast and creative. They enable other players around them to excel. If I were Vigneault, I’d keep the Kreider/Stepan/Zuccarello line together until they start to run cold, returning Callahan and Nash be damned.
For all the whining I hear about Mats Zuccarello being too small, he doesn’t belong on the top lines, he’s a borderline NHLer, yada, yada, yada, last night’s performance should shut the naysayers up. The Hobbit is here for the duration.
Zucca assisted on all three of Stepan’s goals. The kid is a playmaker. He’s got incredible foot speed, as does Hagelin. He sees the ice like few others on the team. He’s creative. He and Kreider certainly brought out the best in Stepan.
Zuccarello and Kreider, two kids Torts threw under the bus. Torts can keep the Sedin twins. They just signed a four year contract in Vancouver. They’ll probably be there long after Torts gets the ax again.
I love some of the moron “Torts Supporters” out there in Rangerland. When the Rangers were struggling, the “Tort-ites” were asking if we missed winning under Tort’s “safe is death/shot blocking/no powerplay/two line only” system.
After watching the last three games, the Tort-ites need to STFU. Vigneault and the Rangers may have gotten off to a slow start. Hagelin and the Hobbit are anything but slow. Speed kills. The Rangers just need to keep their foot on the accelerator.