Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Video: Duchene's Between Leg Toe Drag Slides Him Into Goal of Year Contention

Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene set the bar pretty high tonight for this year's goal of the year race with an unbelievable bit of wizardry with the puck.  Duchene took a Paul Stastny pass toe dragged the puck between his legs and then dangled around Marc-Andre Fleury before finishing on his backhand. 

Evgeni Malkin had his own special goal when he dangled around the Avalanche defense to score the eventual game-winner, but could not match Duchene's magic

Video: Lundqvist Makes Header Save, Then Sprawls To Rob Parenteau

Henrik Lundqvist has been making saves with his head for years, but tonight he took it to another level combining the header with an unbelievable sprawling save.  After making the header on Mark Streit,  John Tavares found P.A. Parenteau with a seemingly open net to shoot at, but Henrik Lundqvist battled across without his stick and robbed him for a save of the year candidate.

Richards Winner Gives Rangers Seventh Straight Win

The New York Rangers signed Brad Richards this summer to help take the team to the next level.  Tonight he paid dividends in that regard scoring with 4:55 left in regulation to give the Rangers their seventh consecutive win.  The goal was a beautiful slap shot past Evgeni Nabokov, but do not lose sight of the play by Brandon Dubinsky to create Richards’ opportunity.  Dubinsky gloved down Josh Bailey’s horrendous clear and found Richards with a pass in rhythm for the ripper.

While Richards is the star for the game-winner, without the incredible work of Henrik Lundqvist the Rangers are not even in a position to get the two points.  Lundqvist made 31 saves on the night, including some incredible ones during the second period, most notably on P.A. Parenteau.  While praising Lundqvist we do have to wonder what he was thinking when he slid out mid-way through the first period, but thankfully Michael Sauer bailed him out with a skate save.

Sean Avery got the Rangers on the board late in the first after an excellent shift with Boyle and Fedotenko.  Boyle took the initial shot, Avery deflected it and while Nabokov made the save he kicked the rebound right to Avery who beat him far side.  The Rangers could not sustain that as Frans Nielsen tied it at 17:06 on a shot that Lundqvist got a piece of, but couldn’t keep out.

Steve Eminger became yet another defender to get in on the goal scoring this season when he pinched in from the point and finished a Ryan Callahan pass to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.  Matt Moulson finally made the Rangers pay for their penalties when he tied it up 6:58 into the third off a feed from John Tavares.

Richards gave the Rangers the lead and while the Islanders had chances, they could not beat Lundqvist before Ryan Callahan got the empty netter with less than one second remaining.
  • Getting 10 goals from the defense already is a huge bonus for the Rangers offensively.
  • Dubinsky was all over the ice in the third period and critical to the final outcome
  • Avery-Boyle-Fedotenko line was just as good tonight as they were together during the playoffs last year
  • Gaborik could not buy a goal tonight, but that line continues to generate chances at a ridiculous rate.

Rangers Roundtable III: Stepan, Gaborik, Biron, Giardi, Richards and Rangers As Contenders

Various Rangers blog sites have gotten together and agreed to review each five game segment of the New York Rangers schedule for different items going on with the team.  The sites participating 5-hole, SNY Rangers Blog, Blue Seat Blogs, The Rangers Tribune,and yours truly at Bleeding All Blue.  

This week discussion involved questions around Stepan's chemistry with Gaborik, whether the Rangers are true contenders, Biron's status as an elite backup, how Richards is stacking up thus far and Girardi being an All-Star ballot snub. To check out everyone's thoughts head over to Rangers Tribune for the summary.

Rangers Top TSN Power Rankings

When a team goes on a six-game winning streak like the New York Rangers are currently on you expect them to gain significant ground in the power rankings.  While that is to be expected, it is still shocking to see the Rangers hit the top spot on TSN’s rankings this week.  New York moved for 5th to the head of the class with Scott Cullen saying the following…
Winners of six in a row, the Blueshirts have allowed only nine goals against in those six games, while they've been led by the line of Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan.
The Rangers are certainly worthy of praise for their current run of results, but the winning streak does not mean they are the top team in the league right now.  San Jose is likely the only impressive victory in the bunch while the others were really about taking care of lesser teams when you should.  The bigger tests are coming with Washington, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on the schedule in the next couple weeks.  Continue to get results against those teams and their spot at the head of the power rankings will have a more credible feel to it.

Voros Trying Out For Connecticut Whale

Per Larry Brooks Aaron Voros is taking a PTO (professional try-out) with the Connecticut Whale (AHL).  If Voros does get a contract it would put him back in the Rangers organizational pipeline, but he is highly unlikely to see the NHL.

Focus Is Rangers Biggest Obstacle To Maintaining Win Streak Against Islanders

The New York Rangers look to extend their winning streak to seven tonight as they head to Long Island tonight to take on the rival Islanders.  On paper it seems like an easy task as the Rangers are now 9-3-3 while the Islanders are 1-6-3 following their 3-1 start.  As Rangers fans know all too well, games in this rivalry don’t turn out how paper would suggest they should as the Islanders always give something extra against the Rangers.  The Rangers should know better than to take the Islanders lightly as John Tavares netted a hat-trick against them in a 4-2 loss a month ago.  That is why the biggest challenge to extending the winning streak is focus.

A team that is rolling brings tremendous confidence to the ice each game, but there is also something to be said for a team that is struggling horrifically and desperately needs a win.  The Rangers have to come out tonight with the mentality that they have lost six straight and play with that desperation of needing those two points or they will get none.  The combination of playing a very beatable team and having just had three days off can make both the energy level and sharpness of the team more difficult.  That is where the focus really comes in. 

The Rangers cannot afford to lose composure if the Islanders look to unnerve them with nonsense.  They also have to remain disciplined within the play and keep their penalty numbers down.  Staying out of the box has been an understated reason for the current winning streak.  That means no cheap stuff after whistles and moving your feet all night to avoid needless stick penalties.  

If the Rangers stay out of the penalty box and play their game down low against the Islanders, then the winning streak will be extended.  If they get into the Islanders style of up and down hockey and get caught up in the non-hockey stuff, then they will taste defeat for the first time this month.   This is one of those tests to see if a team has really turned the corner on their old ways as this is a prime example of a game where the Rangers would play down to the level of their opponent in the past.