Rangers looking for repeat performance from deadline newcomers in Game 2

Rangers newcomers set stage for Game 2
New York Rangers’ Alexis Lafrenière (13) celebrates his goal with Vladimir Tarasenko (91) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins, Saturday, March 4, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
AP Photos

When Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane were brought into the New York Rangers organization over a month ago, expectations skyrocketed. 

The trades that brought two All-Star talents, along with several smaller moves helped turn the Rangers’ season around at the perfect time. After bludgeoning the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, those same acquisitions showed exactly why they were all brought in. 

In order to take a 2-0 series lead on the road Thursday night, it’ll need to be more of the same from that group. 

“All our guys that we brought over, we made our team a lot better. I like the way we’re playing together. We’re working together. Vladi had a big goal early in the hockey game. It makes a big difference. It just took off from there,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said Thursday morning. 

Tarasenko’s goal may have kicked things off in a big way for the Blueshirts on Tuesday, but he wasn’t the only part of the Blues trade that made a stellar showing. Niko Mikkola was seen by many as a throw-in as part of the trade from St. Louis to New York, but his ability to solidify the final defensive pairing with Braden Schneider played huge dividends on Tuesday. Mikkola recorded two hits in 17 minutes of ice time but also came through with a key deflection on Jack Hughes on what could have been a breakaway goal in the first period. 

Mikkola’s exploits have helped New York’s defense give up the fourth-fewest points in the NHL during the regular season. Getting help from a well-known fourth-line acquisition was also a key turning point on Tuesday. 

Tyler Motte has a well-known history with the Rangers and their fanbase during last year’s postseason run. On Tuesday, the former Senators’ free agent pickup recorded two blocked shots and two hits as part of an effort that forced 12 Devil takeaways and a measly 0-4 on the powerplay. 

Even with another top deadline acquisition, Patrick Kane being held scoreless in his playoff debut with the Blueshirts, New York got plenty of help from the other newcomers to overwhelm a young but talented Devils roster. 

But just as with their head coach, the newcomers in New York aren’t focused on what was done on Tuesday, but on an upcoming Game 2 moving forward. 

“We have some guys with playoff experience and it’s very important to take lessons from (the win) and just move on. I don’t think about us being up 1-0, just taking it step-by-step and game-by-game going forward,” Tarasenko concluded after their Game 1 win. 

New York and New Jersey face off for Game 2 of their series Thursday night with puck drop set for 7:30 pm – ET. 

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