Sometimes even the smallest adjustments from a coaching staff can completely change the complexion of a team. For the New York Rangers, head coach Gerard Gallant has shown how important those adjustments can be throughout the 2022-23 regular season.
Gallant tinkered with his starting lineup leading into Monday’s game, and the team showed how right he was for doing so in a 6-2 blowout win over the Florida Panthers.
“I thought it was pretty good. Obviously, some stuff we could clean up, a few too many turnovers but overall we got some good looks and capitalized on our chances.” Adam Fox told AMNY after the win.
New York got the scoring started early in the contest courtesy of their top three-point scorers. Fox converted a breakaway opportunity into his 10th goal of the season. After Carter Verhaeghe tied the score at one, Artemi Panarin found Mika Zibanejad on the powerplay for his world-renowned one-timer to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead after one period.
In total, Zibanejad, Fox, and Panarin each accounted for two points in the first period alone.
“We were just going to the open areas for each other. I think that was the big thing on a couple of those goals we spread the ice and spread them out and opened things up and got some good looks.” Fox said.
But Florida would jump out in the second period and outshoot the Rangers by a nearly 3:1 margin. The Panthers accumulated 14 shots in the second period alone but could not solve the dominant exploits of Igor Shesterkin.
New York relied on their reigning Vezina-winning goaltender to maintain their lead late in the second period and received an added cushion when Jimmy Vesey scored his eighth goal of the season to extend the Blueshirts’ lead to 3-1.
Three third-period goals by Alexis Lafreniere, Zibanejad, and Filip Chytil would turn Madison Square Garden into a frenzy, and Monday’s contest into a blowout victory for the Blueshirts. Even with a four-goal victory, the Rangers’ head coach was focused on what the team could improve on.
“Honestly I wasn’t overly happy most of the night. We turned the puck over a lot in the first two periods. I just didn’t think we played well enough.” Gallant explained after the win. “Some guys played really good games. We can be better. We took advantage of our chances.”
The win moved the Rangers back to 12 games over .500 and a comfortable three points ahead of Washington for third place in the tight Metro division.
New York will be back in action on Wednesday night when they head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs.
- New York changed all three top lines with the reemergence of the “Kid Line” and Chris Kreider moving to the right wing to make way for Artemi Panarin. The Vesey-Trocheck-Goodrow line ended up producing plenty of offensive chances as well outside of just Vesey’s second-period goal.
- Julien Gauthier made his return to the starting lineup after suffering a collision with Sammy Blais against Dallas over a week ago.
- Zibanejad’s leading score in the first was his 250th goal as a New York Ranger and his 82nd power-play goal with the team. His score tied Phil Esposito and Jean Ratelle for the seventh most in franchise history.
- Lafreniere’s goal was the first score he’s had in 17 contests. Gallant told reporters he wanted to see the “Kid Line” shooting more and they took that instruction to heart on Monday night.