It is only the second game of the season, but the New York Rangers needed a spark. They needed to play a complete game from start to finish to reassure all their fans that everything was going to be alright, and boy did they do that on Monday night.
The Rangers won 3-1 against the Los Angeles Kings. They played a much more physical game, and you could tell from the first shift that they were ready to bang. Ryan Callahan set the tone on the second shift of the game and his first of the season, laying a huge hit in the offensive zone. Even the smaller players like Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard were in the offensive zone throwing their weight around.
The most impressive part of the win was how the Rangers forechecked for the entire game. They were constantly on the puck, forcing turnovers in the offensive zone. Brad Richards scored two goals, and both came off of the Rangers’ great job of forcing turnovers.
I said that Richards had to be removed from the first line. Well, he shut me up with his play on Monday. Richards looked so much quicker and a lot more comfortable. This might be because Alain Vigneault moved him to center instead of the left wing. But the line of Derek Stepan, Rick Nash and Richards looked great. They were all over the place on the forecheck and were constantly getting scoring chances.
The Rangers looked like a hungry team on Monday night. Playing a game with constant pressure from start to finish is a great sign for the rest of the season.