For the first time in franchise history, the New York Rangers swept a five-game road trip, making it a historic road trip, to say the least. Victories in Seattle and Western Canada see the Blueshirts with a 7-2-0 record and a first-place spot in the Metropolitan Division. On the backs of two solid netminders and spectacular defence, the Rangers will head back to Madison Square Garden on the highest of all highs.
As an organization that was founded in 1926, seeing that this was the first historic road trip of its kind is pretty remarkable. Then one reminds themselves that this is, in fact, the same organization that has won four Stanley Cups in 97 years of existence. In the likes of The Original Six, the Rangers have typically embodied the phrase “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” Fast forward to the current age and Peter Laviolette and Co. wants to put a stop to all of that. If this is the first step in the new staff’s process, it’s an impressive one.
Mika October Ends on All-Time High
Just when you thought one goal was great, two in a row is even better. Standing in the way of perfection for New York were the speedy and fluent Winnipeg Jets. Scott Arniel’s squad had a rocky start to the season, but quickly turned it around entering Monday’s matchup 3-0-1 in their last four games.
Although it’s been a recurring trend, Artemi Panarin was the best player on the ice, notching a goal and two assists. He continues to be a catalyst on the power play, especially on Monday as it was not a great day for Adam Fox. Fox showed struggles by turning the puck over numerous times, a theme that started last Saturday in Vancouver. Luckily, The Breadman thrived under pressure and the power play scored once again. Like déjà vu, the strong hand-eye coordination of one Chris Kreider was the difference maker.
In OT, Panarin found the hot twig of Zibanejad, who scored his first patented one-timer of the season. You can tell how much this victory meant to the entire organization. Smiles from Panarin, Zibanejad, and K’Andre Miller glowed on the ice. Handshakes and fist bumps were given by Laviolette, Phil Housley, and the rest of the staff. Exclamatory praise from play-by-play announcer Sam Rosen capped off what was an emotional victory.
THE MAGIC IS REAL. pic.twitter.com/pSnxvCsIS0
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) October 31, 2023
This is the Mika Zibanejad fans have been “patiently” waiting for. He is more comfortable on his line with Kreider and Kaapo Kakko. He is not afraid to shoot the puck whenever he gets the chance. It must have been a happy flight back to New York for The Blueshirts.
The Laviolette Way
One of the traditions viewers of MSG see are the handshakes given out by Kreider and Vincent Trocheck. Almost every player has their unique handshake with #20, but none are as iconic as the final hug between him and his centre, Mika Zibanejad. Everyone expects Kreider and Zibanejad to be the last two to enter the locker room. As we saw on Monday, the last person to enter the locker room was the head coach, Peter Laviolette.
Make sure you watch till the end. 😇 pic.twitter.com/Z7L52WLzxz
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) October 31, 2023
Yes, it is probably normal for a coach to wait for each of his players to get off the ice. However, it is beyond that, it is the idea of congratulating all 20 players for their hard work over the last 10 days. We have to remember that hockey players are ordinary people, too. Like us, even they want their superiors to appreciate the hard work they have been doing.
One thing that this road trip proved was that the entire team has officially bought into the Laviolette system. They might concede an early goal (i.e., Calgary), but they are resilient enough to battle back. The system also includes the line combinations made by Laviolette at the beginning of the season. Since the Nashville disaster, these lines have not changed one bit. Sure, he has been double-shifting Panarin at times, but that original is still there. If the inspiring form continues, do not expect any changes right now.
“Home, We’re Coming Home Again!’
The Rangers will return home on Thursday where a Metropolitan Division foe will be awaiting them. The ever-so-dangerous Carolina Hurricanes, led by Rod “The Bod” Brind’Amour, are on a winning streak themselves.
The ‘Canes have won three straight games, including an OT winner in Seattle last Thursday. Forward Teuvo Teravainen is red hot, earning himself a hat trick in their victory last Friday against the winless San Jose Sharks.
New York will meet Metropolitan rivals five times in November, starting Thursday with Carolina. Sweeping Seattle and Western Canada is great, but the victories will be even sweeter if they can get it done against divisional rivals.
Happy to be home. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/QlZEB24cvM
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 1, 2023
Puck drop from The World’s Most Famous Arena is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. EST start on Thursday.
Main Photo Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports