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Hard Work Comes First for Lauri Pajuniemi

by Pasi Tuominen

Finnish forward Lauri Pajuniemi, a fifth-round draft choice of the Rangers in 2018, is enjoying an upward trend with TPS Turku of the Finnish Liiga.

Pajuniemi, 19, finished the regular season with five goals and 13 points in 44 games played. In late February, he clocked his career-high time-on-ice and later got some chances in the top six.

"I was able to do better and better as the season progressed," says Pajuniemi. "I started relatively slowly and was struggling a bit with self-confidence. But later things started working out and the coaches gave me more responsibility. As the playoffs started, I felt it was the best time of the year."

A skilled right-hand shot with some penalty killing chops, Pajuniemi is hoping to become a key player for TPS in the playoffs. He won't take anything for granted, though.

"I've improved my all-round game. Consequently, I've seen more time on ice on the penalty kill. I've gained more trust, but on the other hand, I wish I had scored more points during the regular season."

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Recap: Rangers Drop Tight Game to Detroit

by Michael Obernauer

Given the slender margin on the scoreboard, given all the pucks that the team in Blue threw at Jimmy Howard, given that Winged Wheel logo on the opposing bench - at some point or another some of these Rangers must have wondered whether they were skating in a rerun.

It was yet another tight game against the Detroit Red Wings with two veteran goaltenders staring one another down. And in the end it was Jimmy Howard who got the better of the team he grew up rooting for, turning aside 41 Ranger shots to win a duel with Henrik Lundqvist and send the Blueshirts to a 3-2 loss on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Ryan Strome and Brendan Smith each scored third-period goals for the Rangers as they fired on Howard throughout the game and finally broke through in the late stages. But it was not enough to overcome a pair of goals from Andreas Athanasiou, including the empty-netter that came right on the heels of a Pavel Buchnevich near-miss and then wound up as the game-winner.

The Rangers will now have three days in between games for the first time since the January All-Star break. Up next are the suddenly slumping Maple Leafs, on Saturday night in Toronto.

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Postgame Notes: Rangers vs. Red Wings 03.19.19

by New York Rangers @NYRangers

Team Notes

  • ON POINT - Rangers defensemen recorded two assists/points in tonight's game (note: does not include goal from Brendan Smith, who was playing forward at the time). At least one Rangers defenseman has recorded a point in 20 of the team's last 22 games, including all 20 games which the team has registered a goal over the span (dating back to Feb. 4 vs. Los Angeles). Rangers defensemen have registered 44 points (seven goals, 37 assists) over the last 22 contests.
  • POWER RANGERS - The Rangers were 1-for-3 (4:45) on the power play in tonight's game and recorded four shots on goal during their three power play opportunities. The Rangers have notched a power play goal in two of the last four games.
  • KILL ZONE - The Blueshirts were 1-for-1 (2:00) on the penalty kill in tonight's contest. The Rangers have not allowed a power play goal in six of the last 10 games (27-for-31; 87.1%), in 13 of the last 23 games (52-for-62; 83.9%), and in 18 of the last 30 games (76-for-90; 84.4%).
  • CLOSE CALL - Five of the Rangers' last nine games, seven of their last 12 games, and 39 of their 73 games this season have been decided by one goal.
  • SHOOTING GALLERY - The Rangers registered 43 shots on goal in tonight's contest, including 17 shots on goal in the first period, and 16 of 18 skaters recorded at least one shot on goal in the game. The Blueshirts recorded at least 30 shots on goal in a game for the 33rd time this season. In addition, the Rangers registered 40 or more shots on goal in a game for the seventh time this season.
  • HOT AT THE DOT - The Blueshirts won 34 of 55 faceoffs in tonight's game (61.8%). New York has posted a faceoff win percentage of 50.0% or better in eight of the last 13 games, in nine of the last 15 games, and in 12 of the last 22 contests.
  • HITTING MACHINE - The Rangers were credited with 27 hits in tonight's contest, including 10 hits in the first period. The Blueshirts have recorded 20 or more hits in 59 of 73 games this season.
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Preview: Rangers Return Home to Host Red Wings

by Michael Obernauer

RED WINGS at RANGERS, 7 p.m.
MSG, 98.7 FM

Of the many talents possessed by Mika Zibanejad, on Saturday night he demonstrated that he truly is a centerman who can score from anywhere.

Against the Minnesota Wild it was from deep in the corner, behind the goal line - a goal that included more smarts than meets the eye, and one that also set a new benchmark for the 25-year-old's NHL career. Zibanejad tied the score in the first period by catching Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk in slow retreat, gliding back into his crease after being unable to stop the rim-around that Zibanejad, a righty shot, reached in the right corner. He fired the puck directly at the goaltender, getting a ricochet off the goalstick and in.

"It's definitely on purpose, just maybe not that perfect a bounce," Zibanejad said on Monday. "I kind of waited for him to come back into the net but he was slow getting there. And he just kind of put his stick out there, so I figured I'd just try it out and see what happens.

"If it goes off him I figure maybe it bounces to someone else. But luckily it went in."

As David Quinn prepared his team for Tuesday night's Garden match with the Detroit Red Wings - with the Rangers on Monday calling up John Gilmour, the AHL scoring leader among defensemen, and winger Vinni Lettieri ahead of the game - the head coach reiterated that when his players have an opportunity for a shot, he wants the puck on net, and quick. But shooting from the corner?

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Pregame Notes: Rangers vs. Red Wings 03.19.18

by New York Rangers @NYRangers

NEW YORK RANGERS vs. DETROIT RED WINGS
Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2019, 7:00 p.m. ET
Madison Square Garden - New York, NY
TV: MSG Network, Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM

Rangers: 28-31-13 (69 pts)
Red Wings: 25-37-10 (60 pts)

The Rangers play their 73rd game of the 2018-19 season on Tuesday, Mar. 19, against the Detroit Red Wings in an Original Six matchup at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m. ET - TV: MSG Network, Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM). Including Tuesday's game, each of the Blueshirts' next two contests and three of their next four games are against Original Six teams.

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Rangers Recall John Gilmour and Vinni Lettieri From Hartford

by New York Rangers @NYRangers

New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has recalled defenseman John Gilmour and forward Vinni Lettieri from the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL).

Gilmour, 25, has skated in all of Hartford's 66 games this season, registering 20 goals and 33 assists for 53 points, along with 31 penalty minutes. Gilmour established Hartford's single-season franchise record for goals by a defenseman, and he has also established personal AHL career-highs in goals, assists, and points this season. He leads AHL defensemen in points, ranks second among AHL defensemen in goals and shots on goal (162), and ranks fourth among AHL defensemen in assists this season. In addition, Gilmour leads the Wolf Pack in assists and points, ranks second on Hartford in shots on goal, and is tied for second on the team in goals in 2018-19. He also represented Hartford at the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic. Gilmour has registered 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in the last seven games with Hartford, posting five multi-point games over the span, and he recorded four consecutive multi-point games from Mar. 9 at Springfield to Mar. 15 at Syracuse.

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Rangers Prospect Report: 03.18.19

by New York Rangers @NYRangers

Three Stars of the Week

Jake Elmer agreed to terms on an entry-level contract with the Rangers on Mar. 15, and he registered three points (one goal, two assists) in two games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League (WHL) during the week. The 6-1, 190-pounder finished the regular season with a WHL career-high 18-game point streak (19 goals, 16 assists over the span), including a nine-game assist streak. Elmer established WHL career-highs in several categories in 2018-19, including goals (39), assists (42), points (81), plus/minus rating (plus-26), shorthanded goals (seven), shots on goal (253), and game-winning goals (eight). Elmer led the WHL in shorthanded goals, tied for ninth in game-winning goals, tied for 12th in goals, tied for 13th in points, and ranked 15th in shots on goal this season. In addition, Elmer received three of the Hurricanes' team awards in 2018-19: Three Stars Award, Fan Favorite Award, and Community Relations Award. Lethbridge begins the first round of the 2019 WHL Playoffs on Friday, Mar. 22 against the Calgary Hitmen.

Morgan Barron tallied two assists/points and recorded 10 shots on goal in three games during the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals, helping Cornell defeat Union, two games to one, and advance to the ECAC Hockey Semifinals in Lake Placid. In addition, Barron was named to the All-Ivy League First Team and was named a finalist for the ECAC Hockey's Best Defensive Forward award in 2018-19. The Rangers' sixth round pick (174th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has tallied 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) in 32 games this season. Barron has registered a point 17 of the last 22 games, and he has recorded 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) over the span. Barron has tallied a point in 22 of 32 games in 2018-19 (Cornell has posted a 15-5-2 record in games which he has recorded a point this season). He leads Cornell in several categories this season, including goals, points, power play goals (six), and shots on goal (141). Barron also ranks second on Cornell in assists and ranks fourth in plus/minus rating (plus-nine) in 2018-19. He ranks third in the NCAA in shots on goal per game this season (4.41). Barron is currently one of 14 NCAA freshmen or sophomores who are averaging at least 1.00 points per game this season. Cornell plays Brown in the ECAC Hockey Semifinal on Friday, Mar. 22.

Tarmo Reunanen registered two points (one goal, one assist) and posted a plus-two rating in his final game of the regular season on Mar. 14 against Ilves, and he also recorded two points (one goal, one assist) while making his Liiga playoff debut on Mar. 16 against JYP. The Rangers' fourth round pick (98th overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft tallied 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) in 58 games with TPS during the regular season in Liiga in 2018-19. Reunanen, who turned 21 years old on Mar. 1, 2019, led Liiga defensemen who were in their U21 season or younger in goals and points, and ranked second in assists during the regular season in 2018-19. Over the last 10 seasons (since 2009-10), Reunanen is one of five defensemen in Liiga who recorded at least 25 points in either their U21 season or younger (along with Sami Vatanen, Esa Lindell, Ville Pokka, and Sami Niku). He also ranked 12th in Liiga in average ice time during the regular season (21:14), and he ranked second among players who are in their U21 season or younger in the league in average ice time.

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Elmer Excited to Show Rangers What He Can Do After Signing ELC

by Michael Obernauer

It was either 2½ hours or 12½, and it was either too early or just in the nick of time. It all depends upon your point of view, and Jake Elmer is the kind of hockey player who knows where he stands.

Elmer was born on Dec. 31, 1998 - "it was at 9:30," he says, "but whether it was a.m. or p.m. I just don't know." It is a birthdate that by conventional wisdom puts a hockey player at a disadvantage before he even loses the umbilical cord.

"Not a lot of guys are born December 31," Elmer said in an interview with NYRangers.com. "It's a pretty cool little fact about me. And it's always given me something to prove."

Of course, the timing back in 1998 is something that Jake had no control over (his parents, different story), but if the chronology of his life has brought him to the point he is at today, then he doesn't want to complain about one detail. He is right in the thick of the best hockey season of his life, playing for a Lethbridge Hurricanes team that is expected to make a run at a championship. For the week ending March 3, he was named the Western Hockey League Player of the Week, a window of recognition for a season stretch drive during which Elmer has put together a 18-game point streak and scored in 13 straight games.

On Friday he reached a major milestone of his hockey life: At 20 years, 75 days old, Jake Elmer signed a contract with the New York Rangers.

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Recap: Rangers Drop Battle to Wild in Minnesota

by Michael Obernauer

ST. PAUL -- More than one Ranger noted a "playoff atmosphere" in the rink and "desperation" in the home team. The Blueshirts had no problem at all with how they handled the circumstances; it was just a couple of missteps in how they handled the puck.

Playing their fourth road game in six nights against a rested and desperate Wild team, the Rangers picked up their battle level but dropped the battle, 5-2 in the Minnesota capital to wrap up their four-city journey. Ten games now remain this season, half on the road and half at home, where the Rangers were eager to return after a grinding week through Western Canada and back.

"Better than the other game," Mika Zibanejad said, referring to the Rangers' improvement in the tail end of a back-to-back. "I think we still have better in us. We've just got to build on the good things and move on - get excited to get home, and play at home."

"You've got to be really mentally tough to stay with it and get yourself out of it," David Quinn said. "We've just got to keep fighting and moving forward and we get to address some things in practice, which we haven't had a chance to do in a while."

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Postgame Notes: Rangers at Wild 03.16.19

by New York Rangers @NYRangers

Team Notes

  • YOUTH SERVED - Five of the Rangers' last six goals have been scored by a player who is 23 years old or younger (Buchnevich (2), Pionk, Howden, and Lemieux). At least one Ranger who is 23 years old or younger has registered a goal in each of the last six games and in eight of the last nine games (as well as each of the last eight games which the team has registered a goal over the span).
  • ON POINT - Rangers defensemen tallied three assists/points in tonight's contest. At least one Rangers defenseman has recorded a point in 19 of the team's last 21 games, including all 19 games which the team has registered a goal over the span (dating back to Feb. 4 vs. Los Angeles). Rangers defensemen have registered 42 points (seven goals, 35 assists) over the last 21 contests.
  • RESILIENT RANGERS - For the second consecutive game, the Rangers tallied a goal within two minutes after allowing a goal (Neal Pionk recorded a goal 1:10 after Calgary recorded the first goal of the game last night; Mika Zibanejad tallied a goal 1:20 after Minnesota registered the first goal of the game tonight).
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