EDMONTON, Alberta – It looks like those preseason concerns about Jonathan Quick may have been overblown.
The veteran goalie is off to a tremendous start in his first season with the Rangers, having allowed just one goal through his first three appearances.
That includes a 3-0 shutout win over the Oilers on Thursday at Rogers Place, making it three straight victories for New York with two games to go on this northwestern road trip.
It also gave Quick his 59th career shutout.
“I’m very glad that we have him on our team,” defenseman Braden Schneider said with a big smile.
It was a slight surprise to see the 37-year-old backup get the start considering Igor Shesterkin has only played about four-and-a-half periods in the last 10 days, but it ended up looking like a wise decision.
Quick entered with a 24-11-6 career record, 2.18 goals against average and .920 save percentage against the Oilers, which helped sway Peter Laviolette.
“Things like that always factor into it,” the head coach said. “His career numbers vs. Edmonton are really good. He’s coming off a pretty good performance (Saturday in Seattle), as well.”
He stopped all 29 shots he faced Thursday and has now saved 56 of 57 this season for an impressive .982 save percentage.
Those are gaudy statistics, but Quick wasn’t interested in singing his own praises. He opted for humility as he earns the trust and respect of his new team − the same team he grew up rooting for in Milford, Conn.
“We got the win, right?” he said. “That’s first and foremost. We’re 3-0 on the trip and trying to build off that.”
“There’s going to be a lot of positives and negatives every game,” he added. “No matter what the outcome is, you look to get better at what you did wrong and build off what you did right. I’ll obviously watch video and go to work.”
A new nickname?
How do we feel about the French Toast line?
It’s a working title for a trio that may be here to stay.
Artemi Panarin, Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafrenière have been the Rangers’ driving force of offense to start the new season, with another standout performance in Edmonton.
Defensive system: Rangers using two forechecking looks
They peppered the flailing Oilers, with those three combining for 13 of the Rangers’ 32 shots on goal.
“When they’re moving, they’re really dangerous,” Laviolette said. “They read off of each other well. I think there’s a good mix of different types of players in there. They were on point tonight. They had a really strong game.”
Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner frustrated them for much of the first 40 minutes, but they finally broke through late in the second period.
Lafrenière continued his hot start with a one-timer off a feed from Panarin that made it 3-0 at the 18:09 mark. It gave him four goals through the first seven games, including one in each of the last three.
Confidence is oozing from the former No. 1 overall pick, who faced some over-the-top criticism during the preseason but has completely turned the narrative around in the last two weeks.
He’s been dynamic with the puck on his stick, most notably on a drive to the net during the second period in which he deked crumbling defenseman Philip Broberg out of his skates.
“They feel good as a line,” Laviolette said. “I don’t know what he would say if you ask him that. He seems confident to me. He seems like he’s having fun. Every night that line is in the positive in a lot of different ways – a lot of different numbers – and certainly on the scoreboard is a big one. So, that’s a good thing for us.”
A second-period flurry
The Lafrenière goal was a gut punch for the host Oilers, who were playing without injured star center Connor McDavid and faced boos from the crowd as they dropped to 1-5-1 on the season. But the Rangers (5-2) were already in firm control.
Adam Fox got the scoring started with a power-play goal 3:32 into the second period, tying him for the lead among NHL defensemen with six PP points. Panarin assisted on the play, extending his point streak to seven straight games during which he’s posted 10 points (three goals and seven assists).
That was followed by Braden Schneider’s first goal of the season, a wicked wrist shot from the slot that was setup by a savvy pass from Jimmy Vesey to make it 2-0 at the 12:03 mark.
“I saw the pass coming and I saw some open ice and Vesey made an unbelievable play,” Schneider said. “I just tried to get it through the one guy that was in front of me, and fortunately, it went in.”
It was part of a two-point night for the 22-year-old defenseman, who had family in the stands that made the trek from his hometown of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
“It’s something that we want to do in our system,” Schneider said of his active offensive game. “We want to have five guys be involved, and I think it was just one of those games where we were transitioning really well and we were able to take a lot of ice to make some plays coming off the rush in the O zone. It’s the way we want to play, and it was a game that really worked out for us.”
It felt like the Rangers could have scored even more, as both Blake Wheeler and Mika Zibanejad hit posts while Skinner turned away a handful of other quality chances.
“I thought we could have had three more,” Laviolette said.
A fourth goal was taken off the scoreboard in the third period after referees determined upon review that rookie Will Cuylle kicked the puck in. That play was set up by Wheeler driving hard to the net and finding Cuylle with a spinning pass.
The 37-year-old has gotten off to a slow start this season and is still searching for his first point, but he had some extra giddy-up Thursday. Wheeler attempted six shots, four of which went on goal, in what looked like his best game as a Ranger.
“Yeah, it was,” Laviolette concurred. “He was really noticeable all night, moving his feet. He could have two or three goals.”
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Postgame takeaways: Lafrenière, Quick stay hot in NY Rangers’ win