Alain Vigneault said that last night the Lightning came at the Rangers as hard as any team has in the first period this season.
Vigneault said that while Tampa Bay "dominated," the Rangers got better as the game went along and executed better.
Mats Zuccarello said after the game on MSG that in the first two periods "you saw the difference between a bottom team and a top team. They were better in all the aspects of the game. That's just how it is."(MSG)
Zuccarello added, "we are not a good team right now, compared to this team. T0o many easy goals. You gotta give them credit, they are a better team than us."
The Rangers were out-attempted 29 to 11 and outshot 20-8 in the first period.
Adam Rotter: Tampa is led by Steven Stamkos (#1 overall) and Victor Hedman (#2) overall but what makes them such a good and deep team are the players outside the top-two that they have been able to sign/draft/develop. Nikita Kucherov was drafted late in the second, All-Star Brayden Point was a third-round pick, Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde wee undrafted free agents and there are a bunch more examples of mid-late round picks and character veterans they have brought on. Andrei Vasilevskiy was a first round pick (19th) and helps to stabilize a team that has a very strong identity, work ethic. They are the best team in the league right now and they are what the Rangers should aspire to become.
In this past run the Rangers certainly didn't have the homegrown top-two picks that Tampa did, but their team was built around drafted/developed players (Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, JT Miller, Ryan Callahan), undrafted free agents (Mats Zuccarello and Dan Girardi), some players acquired via trade (Rick Nash and Derrick Brassard) and the late round gem in Henrik Lundqvist. Now the Rangers have some potential high-end talent in their system with Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil and the focus needs to be on developing those guys, developing some of the guys they got at the deadline and making sure they make the right choices in June. The Rangers will likely always be the Rangers and be in the market for high-end players via trade or free agency, but as the Rangers rebuild, the foundation needs to come from within.