Monday, April 4, 2011

Sauer Game-Winner Seals Rangers Crucial 5-3 Comeback Win Over Bruins

The New York Rangers took a large step towards locking down a playoff spot with a massive 5-3 comeback victory over the Boston. The Rangers baked back from a 3-0 deficit midway through the second period finishing it off with three goals during the last four minutes of the game. Brandon Dubinsky started the rally with the tying goal, then Michael Sauer would net the eventual game winner before Derek Stepan added the empty net goal to seal it. The three goals came in 2:55 of action. The win moves the Rangers into seventh and lowered their magic number to just three. The four points the last two days were huge for the team and each game showed the grit and determination of the team and shows why this team is a legit threat to do damage in the playoffs.

The Rangers were completely outplayed in the first period and if not for some spectacular work by Henrik Lundqvist the deficit would have been a lot worse than 2-0. After multiple saves by Lundqvist the Bruins got on the board first with a goal by Dan Paille at 15:16. Just 1:37 later Nathan Horton made it 2-0 on a goal from a goal mouth scramble.

The Rangers played a much better second period as they played much better defensively holding only four shots. Boston made it 3-0 when Chris Kelly scored off the rush at 10:32.

The Rangers got some life from a Vinny Prospal at 11:34. The goal itself was a tap-in as a Wojtek Wolski shot got through Thomas' legs leaving the juicy rebound for Prospal.

Prospal brought the Rangers within one with his second of the night with just 1:34 left in the period giving the Rangers momentum heading into the final period.

  • Lundqvist was excellent tonight in holding the fort until the team decided to kick it in gear.
  • Michael Sauer continues to impress with his play this year. The goal and the assist tonight are icing on the cake for what he provides this team on a nightly basis.
  • The line of Wolski, Prospal and Stepan was excellent once they were put together during the second.

Video: McNeil, Spencer Throw Simultaneous Haymakers in ECHL Scrap

There will be plenty of longer fights in hockey games this year, but there might not be one with the flurried exchange that this one might rank up there with the best of the year.  During Friday night's ECHL game between the South Carolina Stingrays and the Florida Everblades it was Stingrays Grant McNeil squaring off with the Everblades Tim Spencer in a heavyweight bout that was certainly full of heavy shots.


H/T to Puck Daddy

Drury Return Could Boost Rangers In Playoffs If Used In Olympic Style Role

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
It was only an optional for the New York Rangers this morning, but there was a surprising participant on the ice in the form of team captain Chris Drury.  Drury who has only played in 23 games this season and produced only four assists is trying to work his way back from his third injury to cost him significant time this year. After twice breaking his finger he is now rehabbing from knee surgery and while many Rangers fans will focus on the salary and the lack of points he produces for the money they should not discount the things he could add to the team in the playoffs as a depth forward. 

His role for us could be similar to the role he had with Team USA in the Olympics last year where he was a role player who can add faceoff skills, strong defensive play and penalty killing to his previous playoff experience would be a boost to the team.  Have to realize that in the playoffs the bench will get shortened to three lines so having a role player who can do what Drury can do likely makes him as or more valuable than any of Christensen, Wolski or Avery, especially depending on the matchup.  Drury is not going to add much of anything on offense, but when every goal is critical in the playoffs preventing them can be just as important to the team’s success.  While his high will certainly be lower than any of those other three he is more consistent in what he does well and you need that in the extra season.

Video: No Helmet, No Problem As Enroth Robs Jokinen

Rangers Recall Kris Newbury, Which Forward Is Ailing?

The New York Rangers have recalled Kris Newbury from the Connecticut Whale.  Newbury, 29, has 16 goals and 42 assists in 67 games in the AHL this year.  While with the Rangers he had one assist and 35 penalty minutes in 11 games.  Based on the rules the recall of Newbury likely means that one of the Rangers forwards is ailing and might not be able to play tonight since all recalls right now are only allowed due to injury concerns. 

The early assumption is that it is Ruslan Fedotenko who missed the end of the second period yesterday after taking a huge hit from Brayden Coburn.  Fedotenko did play 5:10 between the third period and overtime after taking the hit, but who knows if he has gotten worse the day after.

McCabe Delivers Slap (shot), Fire Rangers Needed to Wake Up In Critical Game (w/video)

Tom Mihalek/Associated Press

When the New York Rangers acquired Bryan McCabe just before the trade deadline they did so with the intent of using his experience and leadership to add another piece to a young defense core.  Even more important than that was the belief that his huge shot from the point could help to solidify their struggling power play.  It has been an up and down experience for McCabe since joining the Rangers as he played very well his first ten games with the club and the results were seen in the power play finding a rhythm.  After that though his level dropped on both ends of the ice and if not for being Bryan McCabe he would have been talked about more as possibly coming out of the lineup. 
His dip offensively coincided with the offensive drop of the whole team and the power play returned to the prior inept status it had before his arrival.  Yesterday during a huge game against the rival Flyers with the Rangers about to have a good road period turn into a 1-0 deficit McCabe made everyone remember why the team brought him in to begin with.  Yes, his bomb from the point that tied the game with just .7 seconds left in the period was critical to the Rangers in terms of the scoreboard, but more their psyche both for the game and the power play in general after going 0-7 against the Islanders.
Video of the shot:

What was more impressive to me, and maybe more important to the team, than the goal itself was the intensity of the reaction McCabe had after it.  For a team that had played pretty flat hockey for the prior two games to have that kind of intense reaction sends a charge through everyone on the bench and a different leadership than the Rangers normally have.  This team is built on a base of young leadership and all of those guys, sans Brandon Dubinsky, are lead by example types that don’t say much and don’t express the fiery side that this team will need some of these final few games and into the playoffs.  Maybe that goal will give McCabe another level of comfort in the room to step in and say something when something needs to be said.  He and Vinny Prospal are certainly two of the veterans that can aid the team and the young leadership in rounding out the group that pushes this team forward in terms of accountability and preparation as the stakes get higher.
The Rangers brought McCabe in for his experience, leadership and huge shot and yesterday in Philadelphia in arguably the most critical game of the season to this point he delivered all three when the team needed it most.