You may be already transitioning from skeletons to mistletoe (although really, you should switching to turkey for the time being), but hockey doesn’t go out of style (in fact, it never really does), especially not after the first month of the season. Let’s look back on how the opening month of the 2016-17 season went for your New York Rangers…
Monthly Record: 6-3-0 (12 points)
Overall Record: 6-3-0 (12 points, 2nd in Metropolitan Division)
High Point: The Rangers knew that for the 2016-17 season to be a success, they would have to root out the demons of last year, which featured the Rangers‘ first ever sweep at the hand of their in-city rivals, the New York Islanders. They immediately got a chance to throw the Islanders money off their backs in their season opener on October 13 at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead, thanks to goals from Michael Grabner and Mats Zuccarello, but signs of trouble creeped in when the Rangers allowed the Islanders to tie it up in the third. However, goals by Chris Kreider and Brandon Pirri helped put the game away, and the Rangers began the year on a good note.
Low Point: It’s hard to complain too much when you win six of nine games to start the year, with each of the losses coming by one goal, but remnants of the raggedy Rangers we saw last year were on display in a sloppy loss against Carolina on October 28. Facing a Hurricanes team that had won once in six games, not to mention one in which the Rangers were 19-2-0 against in their previous meetings, the Rangers failed to generate major scoring chances the Canes proved to be more than they could handle. The Rangers fell 3-2.
Three Stars of October
1st Star: Jimmy Vesey
Not only has the rookie made his mark on the statsheet, currently leading the Rangers with five goals, Vesey has improved the players around him. Paired with Rick Nash and Kevin Hayes, Vesey has brought a sense of excitement and speed to the lineup, and his linemates have kept up with him.
2nd Star: Michael Grabner
Tied with Vesey for the team lead in goals, Grabner has enjoyed a revitalization of his career in the very early going. Having spent five season with the Islanders, Grabner, who scored nine goals in 80 games last season with Toronto, has made the most of his return to New York, scoring his first hat trick since 2011 on Sunday night.
3rd Star: Brandon Pirri
Pirri took part in the rise of the Florida Panthers last season, and has brought that energy over to New York this year. Pirri has sparked the Rangers long dormant power play unit, moving the puck well and putting a couple in the net so far.
Looking Ahead: Three To Watch in November
November 3 vs Edmonton-The often lampooned Oilers have been extremely impressive, currently topping the Western Conference with a 7-2-0 mark. It could also mark the first time the Rangers square off against former goalie understudy Cam Talbot, who has gotten off to a very good start this season. The two teams play out their series this month, with the Rangers making their first ever visit to Rogers Place on November 13 (7:00, MSG)
November 21 vs Pittsburgh-The Rangers could have a very good barometer of where they stand in the early going by facing off against not just a division rival, not just the defending Stanley Cup champions, but against the team that knocked them out last season. It will be part of a home-and-home with Pittsburgh, the second half coming two days later in Steel City. (7:00, MSG)
November 25 @ Philadelphia-The Flyers are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season, and the Rangers have played a huge part in that history. Facing off in the nationally televised Black Friday game, the last meeting was more violent than the checkout line at Best Buy on this very day, as several brawls went down in a 3-1 Rangers victory at MSG. (1:00, NBC)