For these post-game blogs, I will be writing a period by period recap, and then capping it off with a full game summary. You’ll get my real-time thoughts about every period.

1st Period

1st period was a little weird there is no doubt about that. Islanders definitely looked sharper and faster early, but the Rangers had a few decent chances of their own. This period was one of the few times all season in which the defense was better than the offense. Not that the defense was great but they didn’t allow any Grade-A chances and they did a really nice job blocking shots. Shesterkin looked really good early, especially during the 5-on-3, and we can only hope that he picks up right where he left off. Speaking of penalties though, there were entirely too many. Yes the PK was good, but 3 minors, and Lemieux’s fighting major add up to 11 total penalty minutes. That is way too much for a period, especially in the playoffs. But, back to the positives. The Rangers outshot the Islanders 12-6 and had 6 blocked shots. As everyone knows, in the playoffs it’s important to get pucks on net, and the Rangers did a fantastic job of doing that. While shooting has been a problem this year, they didn’t seem nearly as hesitant about picking the perfect shot, they just shot anything and everything. There were a couple decent chances, headlined by Gauthier’s rebound opportunity (Sidenote: Gauthier looked really good, excited to see some more of him), but other than that, nothing very threatening. Panarin looked in control but wasn’t able to generate that much. But, besides the first couple of minutes, that was a pretty solid first period.

2nd Period

First and foremost, this was a well managed period by David Quinn. He mixed up all of his lines and put in Lundqvist about halfway through the period. It is important to remember that this game does not count. While winning is nice, ultimately it is about getting everyone some reps in a real game situation. Well done by Coach Quinn. On the hockey side of things, it started a little rough. Fast had about as good of a chance as you can have and couldn’t bury it. Then, just minutes later Beauvillier beat Shesterkin high blocker side to make it 1-0. Not a whole lot you can ask from him there. Isles had a great breakout pass that lead to a 2-on-1. 

Then the Rangers got a powerplay and they could not have looked much worse. Nothing really going for them. Immediately after their powerplay ended, Trouba got sent off with a hooking minor. Again, the Rangers killed the penalty, but 15 penalty minutes in 35 minutes of gametime will not fly in these playoffs. The chances were much fewer and farther between this period. Not a whole lot went well, but it definitely could have been worse. Biggest takeaway from the period is this tweet that ruined my night:

3rd Period

The aggressiveness was there. They came out faster than the Islanders and it showed with a couple early chances. The Rangers clearly put a clear emphasis on their forecheck and while it worked well for the most part, it did lead to a couple good scoring chances for the Islanders. Fortunately, Hank looked good and the Isles couldn’t break the seal early on in the period. The Rangers drew another penalty. But, again, they committed one about halfway through the powerplay. So, for the third time of the game, we played 4-on-4 hockey. The Rangers had a couple of good chances in the following minutes, including one engineered by Kaapo Kakko (another guy that looked phenomenal tonight), but still couldn’t put one home. What was frustrating tonight was that the Rangers weren’t getting beat by good goaltending, they just couldn’t get a whole lot going offensively. While a good bit of the credit belongs to the Isles defense, I believe the main reason for the lack of offensive success comes from the rust and the lack of chemistry when Quinn began mixing lines. It was quiet for a while, but with about 4:30 left, Devon Toews beat Hank with a wrister on Hank’s glove side. Just seconds later, Fil Chytil collected a rebound and stuffed it home for the Rangers first goal in 20 weeks. 2-1. With about 2:30 left, Coach Quinn took a great timeout that allowed him to draw up a play for an offensive zone faceoff. It also allowed for him to get Hank to the bench and send out Kreider, Zibanejad, Panarin, as well as Fox, Strome, and Deangelo. Those 6 played the rest of regulation, but weren’t really able to generate much. Ultimately the ending wasn’t very exciting as the Isles held on for a 2-1 lead.

Other thoughts

Holding a team to two goals wins you a lot of hockey games, tonight just was not one of them. While frustrating for sure, there were quite a few things that went well tonight. For example: both Shesterkin and Lundqvist were outstanding. Regardless of who starts, if they play anything like they did tonight, I really like our chances. More goals will be scored eventually, tonight just was not one of those nights.

More than anything I was just happy to watch hockey again. As I mentioned in my blog this morning, it had been 140 days since the Blueshirts last faced someone else. So seeing the boys fly around tonight was definitely a good feeling. I think there was a lot to be learned after tonight’s performance and we can only hope that Coach Quinn adjusts what needs to be adjusted, and has the boys ready for Saturday. And just remember, it’s just an exhibition game!