Rangers Look To Even The Score In Buffalo
The New York Rangers are off to a 1-4-1 start this season. It's a season of just 56 games. In Hockey, teams often take a short view of their record. Coaches and players alike will look at what they need to do over the course of the next few games and plan accordingly.
Back in the day, management would offer incentives to players who could achieve given benchmarks during a particular stretch, thus providing additional motivation to excel. It's a tactic that isn't quite within the boundaries of a little thing called the rules and has since been cleaned up, or so they say.
Tonight the New York hockey Rangers will need all the motivation they can muster when they take on a Buffalo Sabres team whose record of 3-3-1 doesn't quite reflect how well they've been playing.
The Sabres are currently 2nd in the league with 33.28 shots on goal per game and they have the 8th ranked power play. On Tuesday, Buffalo scored on 2 of its 4 power play opportunities.
The Rangers went 0 for 3. The 3-2 regulation win was well deserved by Buffalo as they outshot New York and had better time of possession.
Jack Eichel netted his first goal of the season in that initial meeting of these state rivals and rookie Dylan Cozens, Canada's 2021 World Juniors phenom, scored his 2nd goal in 6 games played, giving him 3 points on the year. The addition of Taylor Hall to Buffalo's top line anchored by Jack Eichel and Samson Reinhart gives them a potential scoring punch which could rival that of any line in the league. Hall, playing left wing on the line, is hoping to finally cement that position which has been a revolving door for several seasons.
Buffalo's second scoring line is made up of two first year Sabres in Eric Staal and the previously mentioned Dylan Cozens. The wily veteran and the innocent babe, a story of the ages. At 36 years old, Staal is taking a mentor role with the teen-age Cozens. Cozens, a natural centerman, might still be sent to juniors for one more year before joining the Sabres full time. However, with the way he has been playing, Buffalo may decide to keep him. It is Buffalo's hope that Cozens will one day assume the role of second line center. Playing to their left is second year man Victor Oloffson who has, simply put, a wicked shot. He currently leads the Sabres with 3 goals on the season and has the sort of potential to become a scoring machine.
Buffalo is a new division rival for the boys in the blue shirts this year thanks to pandemic restructuring of the NHL schedule. With a miserable start to a shortened season, New York needs to quickly get as familiar with Buffalo as they are with their other normal division rivals. Another loss tonight, which marks 1/8 of their season, will give New York a long hard grind to get into the playoffs.
Goaltending for the Rangers will need to improved. A combined average of .896 save percentage and 2.82 goals against probably won't cut it against a team who fires off as many shots as the Sabres do. The goalies aren't entirely to blame for those numbers. Breakdowns in the defensive zone have contributed.
Tonight's game is set for 7 p.m. inside Buffalo's KeyBank Center. You can catch the pre-game show at 6:30 p.m. on the MSG network.