Stephen Johns Returned to the Stars Lineup Saturday

About a week ago, I wrote a short post about a hockey player in the Dallas Stars organization by the name of Stephen Johns who was finally cleared to return to the lineup to play hockey again following a twenty-two month recovery from a head injury Johns suffered as the result of a hit he took from Matt Duchene of the Col0rado Avalanche back in 2017.

In my post It’s A Long Road Back I briefly spoke about the seriousness of head trauma and how from my own experiences with my son I was thrilled to see Stephen Johns finally making his return to the sport. Needless to say hockey is my sport and head injuries are a fact of life within the sport itself. Johns played his first game on Saturday night for the Stars’ AHL affiliate the Texas Stars, and in his first game back scored a goal and three assists on home ice against the Toronto Marlies to contribute to a 5-3 Stars victory.

All things considered this was some incredible news because although his return had been long awaited, the Stars organization seemingly handled his return cautiously and rightfully so. Concussion symptoms following a head injury have an indefinite recovery time. Players who experience symptoms referred to as post-concussion syndrome resulting from head trauma have to take things day by day and that is quite imaginably very frustrating. It’s great to see him back and I’m looking forward to his eventual recall to the big team.

New York Rangers Wrap Up November 2019

The New York Rangers ended the month of November on a high note by trouncing the New Jersey Devils in a 4-0 shutout at the Prudential Center on Saturday afternoon. The New Jersey Devils’ season woes continue as they sit at the bottom of the NHL’s Metropolitan Division 9-12-4 having played the same 25 games as the Broadway Blueshirts. Ranger fans who took the bridge over troubled waters to see the Saturday matinee got a pleasant treat as they got to see a rock-solid performance from the teams 23-year-old netminder Alexandar Georgiev who stopped all 33 shots on goal and recorded his first shutout of the season in NJ.

Pretty impressive considering the night he had in Tampa Bay against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the middle third of the month, having been pulled after the first period giving up four goals, and then later being reinserted in the third period giving up one more for a season high total of five goals in a single game. Not long after that Georgiev returned to the net in yet another five-goal outing in Montreal against the Montreal Canadiens on November 23, but this time he escaped with a 6-5 victory. These two outings certainly scuffed his overall numbers having given up ten goals in a two-game span, however he continues to be focused amid the buzzing rumors that he may be moved to make way for the less than challenged thus far rookie Igor Shesterkin playing for the team’s minor league affiliate the Hartford Wolfpack in the American Hockey League.

After 25 games played, even though they are still in the bottom half of the Metropolitan Division, the Blueshirts are playing above .500 hockey at 13-9-3 with 29 points, perched just three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins with two games in hand going forward. Beyond the ups and downs of November, the good news is Mika Zibenajad recently returned to the lineup and appears to be in sound physical condition. Zibanejad has two goals and an assist for three points in the three games since his return, and his presence has been felt in the wake of it. Something which is probably a huge relief for head coach David Quinn as he was smiling in the post-game interview following yesterday’s win.

Zibenajad missed 13 games after the ‘reverse’ hit he took from Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron on October 27th. While Zibanejad is likely the best two-way player on the team, one cannot overlook Artemi Panarin’s productivity since joining the New York Rangers.

For the month of November, Panarin contributed 7 goals and 16 assists for 23 points with a +11 rating, thus making him the most consistently productive offensive player on the team. In addition to his offensive contributions, he has made some sound defensive plays on the backcheck as well. Panarin has shown that he is by no means the defensive liability that other players of his caliber have been when arriving on Broadway with the same high expectations as he has. Most would likely agree that Panarin is worth every dollar the New York Rangers paid for him.

Other notable mentions for November, appropriately go out to D-men Tony DeAngelo and Adam Fox for their sound gameplay at both ends of the pond. Of course one cannot ignore the endless efforts of forward Brendan Lemieux who continues to make a case that he is likely worth the money he will probably ask for going into next season.

November was somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for the Blueshirts, having played the better part of the month without veterans Mika Zibenajad and Marc Staal. All things considered it really wasn’t all rat turds. In reality, with the youth the Rangers put on the ice from night to night, anyone who thinks that they’re not going to make mistakes is fooling themselves. Barring the middle five games of the month which included the 9-3 loss in Tampa back-to-back with the 4-3 loss against the Florida Panthers, the Blueshirts came out of it smelling like roses since in the last five game set of the month they pulled 9 out of 10 potential points on the table.

November wraps up looking like this: 13-9-3 overall, with 29 points in 25 GP. They are 6-3-1 in the last 10 games played and they are at an even split with 83 Goals For and 83 Goals Against. They’re currently 6th in the NHL Metropolitan Division, just 3 points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins with two games in hand, and the same 3 points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets with one game in hand going into Monday night’s game at Madison Square Garden against the Vegas Golden Knights 7:00pm EST.

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