MATT: My first star of the game was Chris Kreider, who quite literally did everything but score. While he didn't score, he had plenty of opportunities to do so, including a penalty shot in the first period. I've been wanting him to shoot more, and I got my wish last night, as No. 20 finished with four shots on net, had one blocked and missed on three others. At this point, Kreider is snake-bitten, but if he continues to get opportunities like he did last night, more will start finding twine. In addition to his shooting, Kreider continued to be physical between whistles, as he mixed it up quite frequently with Jarome Iginla. He finished with an assist in 17:53 of ice time.
No. 2 was Mats Zuccarello, who I thought had a really strong bounce-back game after what I thought was a challenging one Sunday night against the Los Angeles Kings. Like Kreider, he was physical as well between the whistles, as he even engaged with Zdeno Chara on one play. He saw the ice really well last night and was directly responsible for a couple Kreider opportunities, including a gorgeous stretch pass that hit Kreider on the tape right at the blue line to lead him on a breakaway. Although he was a minus-2, Zuccarello still fired five shots on net in 19:16 of ice time.
My third star was Anton Stralman, who had one of his best games of the season last night. On one play in the third period, he nearly scored twice, with his first shot ringing off the post and the other missing by just inches. In his own end, Stralman broke up a play on a Boston rush by intercepting a pass with his stick that needed perfect timing to pull off. He's played so steady this season but doesn't get the credit he deserves, in my opinion. I'm hoping he's able to bury one soon, though, because he deserves one.
JIM: No question Kreider was the best Ranger--and likely the best player overall---on the ice Tuesday. He played with energy and drive, was constantly on the puck, and his speed altered the game nearly every shift he took. Kreider recorded four shots on goal and had another four attempts, and somehow was not credited with a single hit! Despite all the positives, Kreider needs to score--whether it's on that first-period penalty shot or one of his numerous prime scoring opportunities he generated. Somehow someway he has to find the back of the net to be a truge gamechanging difference maker. The best part about that is he knows it. In the postgame dressing room Kreider took this loss personally, a true sign that he knows his place on this team and his responsibility here, too.
I agree Zuccarello had a very strong game, Matt, but he was a minus-two and his giveaway led directly to the game-opening goal by Boston's Shawn Thornton, so I am going with Rick Nash as my No. 2 Star. Nash played far better overall than I would have expected after a 17-game layoff, and also logged more ice time than I would have guess going in, with 17:55. He had a slow start in the first period, but warmed up nicely thereafter, tying for the team high with five shots on goal and producing six other attempts. He came close to scoring on a great deflection in the second period, and off the rush both in the first and third periods. He was a big part of that puck possession game last ight that led to 44 shots on goal. Welcome back Nasher.
My Third Star is a difficult choice, and I like your selection of Stralman for sure, but I am going with Brad Richards who I thought showed really good chemistry with Nash and Ryan Callahan last night, and also tied for the team lead with five shots on goal, while attempting 11 shots in total. Richards logged nearly 20 minutes of ice time and was the only Rangers center to win better than 50 percent of his faceoffs (he won 10, lost 5). He was on ice for the shorthanded goal, which most definitely is not a good thing, but I liked Brad's game quite a bit last night.