The New York Rangers’s offense has lived on their power play and their top line of Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich. They have dominated the early season on offense, while the rest of the team is quiet. However, after a 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators today, it’s quite obvious that a new line is starting to step in Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast and Jimmy Vesey.
The trio haven’t been together too long as Fast has only been back from injury for the last four games. However, they seem to have a connection, according to Steve Zipay of Newsday. Hayes, who scored the game-winner today, has had three goals and an assist in the last five games. Vesey recently picked up his first goal and assist of the season, while Fast scored the first goal in today’s game and has a goal and an assist in four games.
“It’s a real hardworking line,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “Simple, north-south, get it in deep, work the corners, work on the forecheck . . . Kevin, with his size and hockey smarts, fits in real well.”
- Adam Vingan of the Tennessean writes that Mattias Ekholm has really established himself as the leader on defense. Already on a defense with many big names like P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, it’s Ekholm who leads the team in even strength ice time at 19:03, which is 75 seconds more than any other player on the team. Combined with special teams play, Ekholm is currently averaging 25:52 of total ice time and after scoring a goal today, has one goal and two assists so far this year. Vingan writes that with more responsibility ever since the team traded away Seth Jones and now an injury to Ellis, Ekholm has thrived.
- Kurt Rohrbeck of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that for the second straight game, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim is getting minutes equal to that of a top-four defenseman. Rohrbeck writes that Sanheim’s performance was a mixed bag. Sanheim, who sat out as a healthy scratch often in the first few games of the season, often struggled in the defensive zone, as the scribe points to a moment in the first period in which he allowed Edmonton’s Brad Malone to steal the puck from him and almost score. However, the scribe writes the 21-year-old made up for those rookie mistakes by showing quite a bit of offensive skill, getting off two legitimate shots that could have been scoring chances.