MATT: I think this could be a pretty universal pick, but Cam Talbot was the team's best player last night en route to his third straight win for the Rangers. It's been said before, but he just doesn't panic in the net despite being put in big games (Flyers, Red Wings and Islanders). He's so strong positionally and just feels like he's always in control of the game. Talbot had 32 saves, including 14 in the third period with the game on the line, which included a huge kick save. He's a lot of fun to watch and is just the netminder the Rangers need to allow Henrik Lundqvist to rest up.
My second star was Ryan Callahan who was his usual Ryan Callahan self. While you know what you're getting out of Callahan every night, the biggest thing I'm noticing is how he has benefitted the power play by parking himself in front and deflecting pucks. He's fearless around the net and really made life difficult for Sergei Bobrovsky on his second period goal. The Captain has goals in two straight games, both on very similar plays. He finished the night with a goal and an assist, three hits and two blocked shots in 18:07.
My third star goes to Carl Hagelin, who continues to just make a huge impact on this lineup night after night with his speed. The opening goal last night was one of the nicest plays of the young season, and a lot was due to the defender backing up due to Hagelin's speed, which then allowed him the easy tap right into the open cage. He's developing really great chemistry with Ryan Callahan and Brad Richards, as those two have greatly benefitted from having Hagelin being the first player on the puck. He's playing so well he's even getting credit for goals the other shoots into their own nets.
JIM: I completely agree that Cam Talbot was one of the three stars last night and played a huge role in the Rangers 4-2 victory, but I am going with Ryan Callahan as my No. 1 Star. His pass to Carl Hagelin on the game-opening goal was simply gorgeous, which points to how skilled a player he is. Then he parks himself right on the edge of Sergei Bobrovsky's crease and deflects in a power play goal, showing his toughness and grit. Of course he gets his hits in, plays rock solid on the PK, and logs just under 19 minutes of ice-time on the second night of back-to-backs. He was simply terrific. Talbot was solid, too, and is my No. 2 Star. I thought he was leaving a few too many rebounds out there early on, but he settled in quite nicely and was a difference maker in that third period when the Rangers' legs were getting tired and the Blue Jackets continually pressed the issue. It was fun to see him make big-time stops on a pair of ex-Rangers---Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov---plus he tied his career-high with 32 saves. For my Third Star I am going with Mats Zuccarello, who once again was all over the ice, making plays offensively and being very responsible defensively. Zuccarello had four shots on goal, assisted on Callahan's goal when he tipped the puck before the captain did, and blocked a team-high four shots. I know Carl Hagelin scored twice, but I was just real taken with Zuccarello's all-around game last night.