Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rangers Dominate Panthers In 6-1 Rout

The New York Rangers dominated from start to finish in a 6-1 domination over the Florida Panthers.

Derek Stepan scored twice including a tremendous end to end rush early in the second period as a penalty expired.  Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov, Brad Richards and Steve Eminger got in on the act.

The Rangers special teams was excellent tonight as they tallied twice and killed off all seven shorthanded opportunities.

Eminger and Del Zotto continue to play very well as the teams second defensive pair.

Avery Scratched, Christensen Back In

When the New York Rangers take the ice tonight against the Florida Panthers forward Sean Avery will not be in the lineup.  Avery will be replaced by Erik Christensen.

Video: Marian Gaborik Nearly Pulls Off Spin-O-Rama From His Knees

Marian Gaborik tallied hist team leading 14th goal of the season with 2:34 left in the third period of last night's game against the Buffalo Sabres.  The goal was a picture perfect shot from the top of the left circle, which for most would be the highlight of the night, but not Gaborik on this night.  More memorable than that shot was his tremendous skill to do a spin-o-rama and nearly score from his knees after losing an edge early in the third period.

Is Hagelin's Play Pushing Wojtek Wolski Off Rangers Roster?

The fact that Carl Hagelin for the New York Rangers was something that many expected, but few could have believed he would have this type of impact at NHL level so quickly.   Following his impressive two goal performance last night in Buffalo the 23-year-old rookie winger now has three goals and three assists in eight games for New York. 

John Tortorella has publicly said that he liked what he saw of Hagelin in the preseason and wanted to keep him on the team then, but the consensus was that he needed to go down to play with the Connecticut Whale for more experience.  Injuries to Wojtek Wolski and Mike Rupp along with the suspension to Andre Deveaux and ineffectiveness of Erik Christensen gave Hagelin the opportunity which he has run with. 

As impressive as Hagelin was in his first four games, scoring in each, last night’s performance against the Sabres was more impressive because of it being a bounce back night for him.  Hagelin had not scored in three straight, watching his minutes cut to just 6:40 against the Lightning on Thursday .  The minute decrease was not solely from the lack of points, but because his work level had dropped down.  He got back to doing what makes him successful in using his speed to put pressure on the opposition, working along the walls and being responsible in all three zones.

Hagelin needed an impact game to snap out of his mini funk and he did just that against the Sabres.  He got his night, and the Rangers offense, going with a beautiful shorthanded goal on a slap shot from the left circle that beat Jhonas Enroth far side for a shorthanded goal.  In the third period he gave the Rangers a critical two goal cushion with a very similar goal to his first one racing down the left wing and firing far post from the faceoff circle.

The fact that Hagelin was able to readjust his game and show even more when given the opportunity on the penalty kill not only bodes well for him, but potentially spells trouble for someone like Wojtek Wolski.

Hagelin’s situation is much like McDonagh’s last year in that he was cut out of camp to get more experience in the AHL, got the call because of injury and is looking to ensure he never goes back down.  The question now becomes will the Rangers’ brass respond in much the same way as they did last season in creating his roster spot by moving a large salary like Wolski ($3.8 mil) out either via trade or waivers to keep room for him.  For many the move to eliminate Erik Christensen comes first, but the difference in cap costs might save Christensen over Wolski.

Wolski is only effective in a top six or maybe a top nine role and with Hagelin solidifying himself as a top nine left wing for the Rangers right now the purpose of Wolski at his salary being on the roster diminishes.  Ideally the Rangers would get something for Wolski, but if all they get is cap space to potentially make an acquisition at the trade deadline to make a run, then considering moving Wolski’s contract off the cap is certainly worth looking at thanks to the play of Hagelin.