Friday, November 26, 2010

Lundqvist Tames Panthers As Rangers Win 3-0 In Solid Bounceback Effort

Eliot J. Schechter/ Getty Images

The Rangers took the ice against the Florida Panthers looking to rebound from a bad performance on Wednesday against the Lightning and the effort was much better tonight and their world class goaltender made all of it stand up with a brilliant game.  For those who were worried about Henrik and his confidence you can exhale as he was on top of his game from the opening shift of the game and they needed him to be.  In all Henrik would have to make 40 saves in the game as his defense really was not great tonight either as a whole though an improvement from Wednesday.  In a relative sense this was a better performance but by no means should fans or the team be jumping for joy over this performance outside of a couple players because as a team if they play this way against a good team they are in trouble.

The action would get underway early in this one as 1:54 into the game as Brandon Prust and Darcy Hordichuk would drop the gloves in a very entertaining fight.  The Rangers despite being outplayed would end the period up 1-0 because midway through the period Gaborik would deflect a shot attempt, Derek Stepan would feed Marc Staal and Staal would make a beautiful tape to tape cross ice pass to Sean Avery as he exited the penalty box.  Avery would take the puck into the zone and fire a low hard wrist shot on net and Derek Stepan would bang home the rebound to give the Rangers the lead.  That fight really one of the better moments for the Rangers of the period as the defense and especially Michael Del Zotto would make multiple mistakes once again leaving Henrik to save the day and tonight he was up to it.  In the period he would be forced to make sixteen saves of varying difficulty.

The best save of the night for Henrik would come in the second period when Florida broke in on a two-on-one with only Erik Christensen back and after a feed through the crease Henrik would stone Mike Santorelli from the doortstep to keep the game 1-0 Rangers.  After that there was not a whole lot to the second period.  In the third the Rangers would play better early in the period as after a stupid penalty by Stephan Weiss the Rangers would go to work on the power-play.  Much maligned Erik Christensen would win the draw, the puck would get moved beautifully from side to side and end up back with Christensen who intentionally played a hard pass to the stick of Ryan Callahan in the slot and Callahan would redirect it into the net for the 2-0 lead 5:24 into the period.  The Rangers would cap the scoring at 14:25 of the period when short-handed Brandon Prust would follow excellent work in his own zone, take the puck up the ice and beat Clemmensen for his first goal of the season and the Rangers fifth shortie of the year. 

On the defensive end in the third there was one time where the puck would go in the net, but the referees for once would get it right in the Rangers favor and disallow it after Stephen Weiss would clearly swat the puck with his hand before Chris Higgins would put it in.  Also late in the period Florida had chances up a man but they could not beat Henrik and there were two great hustle plays in that last minute that the Rangers need to play 60 minutes that way when Fedotenko while gassed dove to get the puck out and then with under 10 seconds to go in a 3-0 game Artem Anisimov did the same.  Not a great game played by them, but a good 3-0 win against a team they have to beat and great performance from Henrik.
  • The line of Dubinsky-Stepan-Gaborik was very good in the game
  • Gaborik responded well to his coach criticizing him with his most active game in a while
  • Avery played his best game in a while and was rewarded with more time
  • Staal and Girardi both played much better tonight and Staal had some beautiful passes tonight
  • MDZ struggled defensively on many occasions tonight
  • Sauer is quickly becoming a fan favorite with his no non-sense approach back there
  • I would assume the plan was to play Biron tomorrow, but I would strongly consider going back to Henrik to build on this performance.