JIM: Dan Girardi, active at both ends of the ice and who scored the game-tying goal with 6:42 remaining in the third period is my No. 1 Rangers Star from Tuesday's loss to the Devils. I know that there are going to be some fans who want to blame the loss on Girardi and question his First Star stautus in my eyes, but Girardi did what Girardi does on what turned out to be the Devils game-winning goal with 2:55 to play---he fearlessly went down and blocked a shot. That the puck bounced up, hit him and Ryan McDonagh then landed right on Dainius Zubrus' stick, is not his fault. He made a good play, and was part of an unfortunate finish. As for the rest of his game, Girardi fired four shots on goal, was credited with three hits, and made sure his first goal of the season was a mighty important one.
My Second Star for the Rangers is Chris Kreider, who was credited with a pair of assists, including the primary helper on Girardi's goal. Kreider logged 17:33, got his nose dirty again and had some Devils trying to get at him after whistles, and recorded two shots on goal. He is doing everything well at both ends of the ice right now---and has ten points in 11 games since being recalled from Hartford---though it would be great to see him use that awesome shot of his even more often.
I know McDonagh was a minus-one---like his defense partner Girardi---but he is my No. 3 Star. The Mac Truck extended his pint streak to four straight games, assisting on Girardi's goal, had four shots on goal, and another four attempts, while playing a team-high 25:32. If Henrik Lundqvist is the anchor of this team, McDonagh is its rock. Another solid night for him on the blueline.
MATT: My first star is going to be Chris Kreider, who continues to just play the best hockey of his still very young NHL career. He assisted on both Rangers goals and had several other chances, including poking home a puck a split-second after the whistle had blown and another in the second period on a breakaway on Martin Brodeur. While he somehow finished with no hits, he was still physical, especially after the whistle in the first period when (I think) J.T. Miller was shoved, and Kreider came over and made his presence felt. As you said, he's doing everything right right now, but like you, I'd like to see him use his shot more, as you could argue — and probably win the argument — that he has the nicest wrist shot on the team.
My second star was Marc Staal, who despite scoring his first goal since opening night, but did a little bit of everything. He and Ryan McDonagh have been the biggest embracers of Alain Vigneault's vision of having his defenders join the rush and help create offense, and Staal has done that nearly every game. He's shooting the puck more and pinching in as well. He finished with one hit, block and takeaway each, was a plus-1 in 18:09 of ice time.
My third star was Dan Girardi, who got the elephant off his back with his first goal of the season against New Jersey. I thought he played a very solid game overall, despite the Devils' game-winning goal. He was active in the offense zone, firing four shots on net and added three hits.