Saturday, November 20, 2010

New York Rangers Run Wild In 2nd on Way to 5-2 Win Over Minnesota

The Rangers came into the night having lost two in a row and in danger of falling back to the .500 mark if they took another loss tonight.  For one period the game was very even much as it was last night for a period, but the feel was slightly different tonight as the energy the second half of the period was not just the homecoming buzz of Gaborik and Stepan but the whole team got involved and if not for Niklas Backstrom could have had a few in the first, but in the end it was scoreless.  Tonight the second period was a landslide in favor of the Rangers instead of a debacle they want to forget.  

The big difference was that the Rangers got back to playing their game with physical play, fore-checking and cycling the puck.  It was that kind of play that would open the scoring for the Rangers as Derek Boogaard would make a big hit along the boards causing a turnover and then Boogaard’s drive to the net would create space for what eventually would be Artem Anisimov scoring his 7th of the year on a rebound at 8:50 of the second period.  This was the kind of play that the Rangers were known for making when they were winning without Gaborik and have not been pushing themselves to do as much since his return. 

The Rangers would keep up the pressure but not strike again until 14:24 when while on the power-play Derek Stepan made a tremendous play to straddle the blue line to stay onside while Frolov entered the zone and Stepan would eventually make a gorgeous cross ice pass to Michael Del Zotto who outwaited Backstrom and would finish it to make it 2-0 Rangers.  The domination of the period would be capped off at the 19:00 minute mark when Alexander Frolov would finally get one of his wrap-around chances to go in the net making it 3-0.  The second period saw the Rangers dominate in every facet of the game in a complete reversal from the middle period the night before.  Shots in the period would end up a staggering 17-4 in their favor and each player with Minnesota ties would get at least one point in the period.

The third period had the feel of an academic exercise as the game was over, but the Rangers continued to push the play and at 4:53 Dubinsky would break in fake to his backhand and beat Backstrom on the forehand to make it 4-0 for his team leading 12th goal of the season.   People keep waiting for the slump to come out of Dubinsky and it just is not happening this year as even in games where he fails to score a goal he is doing other things crucial to winning whether it be hitting, killing penalties or setting up his teammates. 

The game had the makings of a perfect night until while on the power-play, Michael Del Zotto who up to this point had played an excellent game on both ends had a flashback to the night before weakly trying to hip check Kyle Brodziak in the neutral zone and missed leading to a break down the right side and eventually a pass to Matt Cullen for the short-handed goal cutting it to 4-1 at 12:48.  The Rangers, unlike last night, would do what they have done all season which is answer back as 80 seconds after the Cullen goal following a great shift from the Fedotenko-Boyle-Prust line Brandon Prust would slide the puck across, it would get tipped by Brian Boyle and finished by Ruslan Fedotenko to make it 5-1.  Minnesota would answer that goal 1:03 later as Martin Havlat finally decided to stop playing passer and shoot the puck beating Martin Biron for the final goal in a 5-2 Rangers win.
  • Gaborik and Stepan were both excellent in their trips back to Minnesota
  • Alex Frolov is having his confidence grow which could be scary, but having the wrap-around go in means we will see tons more
  •  Brandon Prust is a winner, period.  You could tell after each shift how much that leg was bothering him as he would skate with no weight on it as much as possible but he gutted it out and played very well
  • Sean Avery is officially in danger of getting scratched when this team gets healthy again because he is adding little to nothing right now.
  • Michael Del Zotto played a very good bounce back game sans the bonehead play in the third.  Nice to see him shoot the puck some and the patience on the goal shows his skill
  • Marc Staal got back on the track he was on a few games ago with an excellent game tonight
  • Dan Girardi played his best game since I said he should be an All-Star with a performance fitting of that honor.
  • Michael Sauer needs to get more credit for how solid he has been this season
  • Biron had his 5th good start out of 6.