Don’t worry people…blue most definitely is a Christmas color! The Rangers enter December on a winning note thanks to last night’s come from behind win over the Hurricanes, so let’s take a look back on November as a whole…
Monthly Record: 10-4-1 (21 points)
Overall Record: 16-7-1 (33 points, 1st in Metropolitan Division)
High Point: The Rangers started off November on a good, and historic, note, topping last season’s Western Conference finalist, the St. Louis Blues in a 5-0 shutout at Madison Square Garden on November 1. Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves for his first shutout of the season, making 60 for his career, while Jimmy Vesey added a goal and two assists.
Low Point: A come from behind 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 21 would’ve been the high point, if not for a complete horror show two nights later. The Rangers were made into turkeys on the day before Thanksgiving, forced to endure a period where they gave up five goals. Furthermore, they only mustered 17 shots in a brutal 6-1 defeat.
Three Stars of November
1st Star: Kevin Hayes
After a solid rookie season, Hayes was berated often last year, as he saw a significant drop off in all of his major offensive categories. He came to life in November, tallying 13 points, including eight goals, coming after a season in which he failed to score more than four in any month. He earned one of the NHL’s Three Stars of the Week for his play from October 30-November 7, and registered his first career multi-goal game on November 15, scoring two in a 7-2 win in Vancouver.
2nd Star: JT Miller
Miller has stayed atop the Rangers’ point tallies, earning 10 this month with five goals and assists each. Miller also tallied a pair in that high-scoring Vancouver win, and also provided the de facto game winning goal in November 21’s win over Pittsburgh, getting a shorthanded goal in the penultimate minute of the second period, completing a Rangers comeback.
3rd Star: Mika Zibanejad
You could say I put Zibanejad in the spot if only for the fact he won’t be able to earn another for awhile longer, but he certainly earned it, as the new Ranger was finding his groove prior to a brutal leg injury suffered in the November 20 game against Florida. Zibanejad had tallied points in five of his last six games, including the Florida game, where he scored the tying goal that allowed the Rangers to steal a point.
Looking Ahead: Three To Watch In December
December 6 @ NY Islanders-This will be the first meeting between the two teams since opening night, a 5-3 Rangers’ victory. Things have only gone further south for the Islanders, who currently reside in the NHL’s cellar with 18 points. The Rangers would love to add to their intracity rivals’ misery, and would also like to pick up their first ever win at Barclays Center, where they dropped both of their visits last season. (7:00, MSG+)
December 11 vs New Jersey-The Devils will get their Madison Square Garden portion of the schedule out of the way over two Sunday this month, half of the teams’ four meetings this season. New Jersey, who took all but one meeting from the Rangers last season, have been one of the league’s surprise successes, keeping pace in Metropolitan and Eastern wild card races behind solid play from newcomer Taylor Hall, who is expected to return from injury this month. (7:00, MSG)
December 20 @ Pittsburgh-The Rangers continue to lead the Metropolitan Division, but the Penguins have made it quite clear that they’re not going quietly into the night. Coming two days after the second Devils game and three days before they play their last game before a brief Christmas break, the Rangers hope they find a gift in the form of their 5-2 victory at PPG Paints Arena again, rather than the lump of goal that was the MSG stinker two days later. This will be the last time these two meet until late March (7:00, MSG+)
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490