Monday, January 24, 2011

Rangers Continue To Work Magic With Another Comeback Shootout Win

The Rangers certainly did not put on the same performance tonight as they did in the trouncing they gave the Capitals in their last matchup, but this one might have been even more impressive.  With only ten guys in the lineup who played in the last meeting the Rangers were a different team than the one that beat the Caps last month and with that they played a different game.  They knew that with all their missing pieces it was going to have to be a grind it out game as most of their victories are and this one was no different.  A late ugly goal would give the Rangers enough to get it to extra time and eventually the skills competition in which they have become masters.
Tonight it would take four rounds in the shootout, but Artem Anisimov, who was previously 0 for 4 in his career, would go to his backhand for the winner.  Earlier in the shootout Wojtek Wolski and Mats Zuccarello would convert for the club.  Zuccarello’s finish would make him 4 for 4 in his brief NHL career in the shootout format.
Martin Biron would stop Marcus Johansson to seal the game and send the Rangers back to New York having gotten four huge points on this three game trip.  Overall in the game Biron would turn aside 22 Captials shots in what many, including myself, considered a somewhat suspect decision to give him the nod.  Reality is the Rangers have a plan for their goaltenders and Biron has played well enough this season that no game he is placed in should lead to questions of the decision from here on.
The Rangers goal as I said was an ugly one, but the kind of goal the Rangers need right now especially from Marian Gaborik.  It will never make a highlight film and for some homers calling the game was “controversial,” but it was a goal that only happens with Gaborik going to a dirty area on the ice.   The play happened when Brian Boyle took a shot from atop the right faceoff circle and after it bounced off Gaborik and then the stick of Alzner it got through Holtby.
The only goal the Rangers would surrender on the night was to Matt Hendricks 1:27 into the second period.  The goal came on a brilliant diagonal pass by Marcus Johansson to Hendricks at the left side who was left open on a blown assignment.
This team continues to play through injuries and you have to believe in what they are doing and more importantly the way they are doing it.  Pretty is never a word to describe in, but this is an honest team that plays an honest game and they are getting rewarded for it.  Scary to imagine what this team will be if they combine the mentality with a full squad of healthy bodies.
  • I expected to miss Dan Girardi more than I did tonight, but the credit for that goes completely to Michael Sauer.  Sauer gets no hype from anyone, but as important as Stepan has been I will contend he has been as if not more important as a rookie to this team.  At least that is what I told gmanuelian and BlueshirtBanter in our twitter conversation
  • When Girardi comes back I would leave Sauer with Staal and play Girardi with another standout tonight, Ryan McDonagh.  How good is this kid this soon?
  • Add those two to the rock back there, Marc Staal, and this defense core is ridiculously good.  Staal was Norris trophy worthy with work tonight in frustrating and at time straight owning Ovechkin.
  • I Michael Del Zotto has been enjoying Hartford because he still has a lot of work to do to get his game back.  He had multiple coverage mistakes, is still trying too many long passes and still is unable to hit the net with his shot.  Combine that with the phenomenal play of McDonagh and it might be awhile before he comes back in a non-injury related scenario.
  • Thought Evgeny Grachev was much more impressive tonight than in any of his earlier games as he showed more speed, strength and threat in his limited time.