Tuesday’s contest against the New York Islanders marked the return of New York Rangers speedster Carl Hagelin, who was out the entire preseason and first 10 games of the season due to offseason shoulder surgery. With injuries already plaguing this Rangers team in the first month of the season, the return of Hagelin in this rivalry game was very much needed not only to inject more skill into the lineup, but to also help the morale of a currently struggling Rangers team.
Not only did Hagelin contribute to the Rangers’ 3-2 regulation win over the Islanders, but he came up huge. Late in the third period in a 2-2 tie game, Hagelin and first-time linemate Benoit Pouliot confused the Islanders’ defense by performing a beautiful criss-crossing give-and-go play, ending with where Hagelin setting up a wide open Pouilot to give the Rangers the go-ahead and game-winning goal.
That one play, however, was not the extent of their play together. I was very impressed all game with how Hagelin and Pouliot, who never played a single game together until Tuesday night, looked like they’ve played on the same line for years and knew where to find each other on the ice all night.
If I was head coach Alain Vigneault, I would definitely keep Hagelin and Pouliot together on the same line and see if they continue to build upon their chemistry from Tuesday night. With the Rangers’ lack of scoring, they must generate as much offense as humanly possible; for at least one night — and hopefully many more — these two did just that.