Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gaborik, Sparks, Lights Fire, Then Extinguishes Oil in 8-2 Rangers Victory

The Rangers finally got a laugher this season or at least that is how it looked by the end, though there were points today where they were not laughing and the result was in doubt.  In the 8-2 victory Marian Gaborik was the spark early, the fire starter in the middle frame and the extinguisher on the goal scoring onslaught.  All in all the Rangers played an excellent game mixing the skill a Gaborik and today Christensen and Frolov can bring with the blue collar hard work they showed in the absence of those guys playing and/or producing.  They will need that combination to be evident for the rest of the year if they are going to go anywhere.  Now the Rangers have improved to 9-7-1, with two straight wins on home ice and will look to continue that tomorrow against Pittsburgh in their building.  

Full details of the game in terms of goals, fights and all are inside.

In what set itself up for a trap type game against a young struggling team against a former coach and even further an afternoon start was changed from a worry to a positive very quickly.  Marian Gaborik took the puck up the ice made a tremendous move on Kurtis Foster and leading to a backhand shot that was stopped by Khabibulin, that Erik Christensen nearly put and many thought was in, but was only on the back of the net.  As the play continued after good work by each member of the line, Gaborik was able to step out in front and with Kurtis Foster failing to take the body lead to Marian Gaborik getting his first of the season at 1:35.  The best chance for the Rangers to add to their lead came after Artem Anisimov came out the box for serving a weak cross checking penalty and he flipped the puck ahead to lead Ryan Callahan break in but Builin would deny the Ranger winger.  The Rangers play in the period would be the kind of hockey they need to play to be successful.  The best recipe for the Rangers is to play a physical fore-check cycle game and mix in the tremendous skill of Gaborik.  The physical play was brought in the first by most, but the most noticeable were Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal.  At the end of 1 the shots 7-4 New York.

As good as the first period was, the start of the second was equally as bad.  Matt Gilroy and Michael Sauer failed to corral rookie Jordan Eberle at multiple points on the same shift leading to an Eberle shot that Ryan Jones put in the rebound at 2:45 tying the game at 1-1.  Then 28 seconds later as Shawn Horcoff would score on a shot that did deflect off the blade of Marc Staals’ stick, but Martin Biron has to make that save as the Oilers gain the lead 2-1.  The Rangers play started to turn two minutes later when Ryan Callahan set up Artem Anisimov at the far post for a couple of tremendous chances, but failing to lift the puck allowed Khabibulin to make the saves and preserve the lead.

It was after this that the skill would spark the Rangers attack again as Erik Christensen intercepted the puck at center ice and head-manned a pass to Gaborik at the Oiler blue-line for a breakaway in which he deked Khabibulin badly and scored on the forehand.  It was a beautiful piece of skill by Gaborik to tie the game at 2 and as excited as fans were about the goal there was apprehension in the building as Gaborik crashed into the post following the goal and appeared shaken up.  The good news for the club and the fans was he was fine, though I can guarantee Edmonton wasn’t happy to see him keep coming back for more shifts.

Following the skill goal, the hard work returned and a shot block by Michael Sauer would lead to Brandon Prust playing the puck up the boards, Ruslan Fedotenko took it into the Edmonton zone on the two on one feeding across to Brian Boyle who put home his 8th goal of the year to make it 3-2 at 7:37 of the second period; only 25 seconds after the Gaborik equalizer.  The Rangers hard work meeting skill would continue as Marian Gaborik took the puck in center ice and would not let go of it as he danced around his teammates and Edmonton defenders until Ladislav Smid finally tripped him.  On the powerplay Christensen would hit the post, nearly extending the lead, but then Cogliano would get a chance on a break, but hard work by Marc Staal to stay with and harass Cogliano the whole way down would help Martin Biron in making the save and preserving the lead.  The play would flip again right after as eventually after a good fore-checking shift which lead to a great feed from Derek Stepan a wide open Artem Anisimov would score on a deflection from his right skate to make it 4-2 at 13:17 of the second.  The goal was reviewed, but since there was no distinct kicking motion it was let to stand.

If that was not enough the Rangers would go for more as the period continued and Erik Christensen’s tremendous period was capped off when he fed Alexander Frolov for a goal with a few seconds remaining in the period.  Frolov who had been desperate for a goal took the pass while on his backside and put in to make it 5-2 New York.  It appeared that the pass was intended for Gaborik, but the goal for Frolov was more important than Gaborik getting a hat-trick and after an awful start to the period the Rangers would get four straight to have a 5-2 lead at the end of 2.

The first shift of the 3rd would show that the Rangers were going to stick with the hard work as Dubinsky and company would be hard on the fore-check.  At 2:28 the fighting would be literal as Derek Boogaard and Steve MacIntyre would square off in a heavyweight showdown or at least that is the way it would be billed.  The reality of the actual fight was that Boogaard dominated MacIntyre.  A Gaborik penalty would come shortly after for interference that was legitimate but also should have been accompanied by a penalty to Brule for his slew foot on Gaborik.  The penalty kill did a great job in killing off the third chance for the Oilers.

At 8:46 of the period MacIntyre decided that he wanted another chance at Boogaard even going to the point of moving his teammate Stortini before the faceoff.  In the second version of the fisticuffs both were still tired from the first one, but MacIntyre would equate himself much better though probably still losing a close decision.  At 11:18 chaos breaks out as Smid challenged Avery and then backed off before Avery clocked him with a right.  On the way off the ice for Avery Whitney had words, then Peckham came at him, but Boyle stopped that quickly and then everyone squared off with the best fight being Stortini against Prust, but the most consequential for the Rangers might be Dubinsky throwing punches from the bench as I expect a suspension.

After they get back to “hockey” an awful turnover by Tom Gilbert gives Frolov his second goal of the game at 12:14.  40 seconds later Ruslan Fedotenko would make it 7-2 and then if that wasn’t enough Frolov would fire a pass to Gaborik springing him for another breakaway and the hat-trick was complete and an 8-2 lead was on the scoreboard.  After this there was not much in the way of action to speak of at least of consequence other than Callahan once again being banged hard into the boards.
  • Gaborik was Gaborik and he keyed them twice today
  • Erik Christensen’s game today is what he is capable of and makes him so frustrating
  • Alexander Frolov has been hoped that one goal would get him going and if the 3rd period was any indication it looks good as he played with a tremendous amount of confidence
  • Fedotenko played a very good game being rewarded late with a goal
  • Boyle continued his excellent play getting a goal but also sticking up for his teammates
  • Dubinsky and Callahan did not score today, but both played very good games in all phases and were extremely good taking the body.
  • Marc Staal backed up his strong defensive game the other night with probably his best overall game this season.  Positioning was excellent and physical play was at another level today
  • Dan Girardi continued his excellent season doing what he does in being solid and blocking lots of shots
  • Biron was not great, but he certainly didn’t have to be.

Will be news on suspensions and injuries between now and tomorrow against Pitt and I will bring you it when I see it.