The significance of last night’s win for the Rangers wasn’t so much about what it was but what it wasn’t.
Meaning it was not the continuation of a troubling trend that began in South Florida. It was not a third straight loss. It was not an opportunity for everyone from players and coaches to fans and reporters to start wondering if the Rangers’ house of cards was ready to tumble.
It was one game. There are still nine left, which means there is plenty of time for things to go awfully awry — perhaps as early as tonight in Newark. But other than a comically bad second period, the Rangers last night at least showed some resilience at a critical juncture.
For that reason alone — and surely this will change again — it was the biggest win of the season.
Meanwhile, some thoughts:
<li>Agree with it or not, I doubt we’ll see any lineup changes tonight. Look for Henrik Lundqvist again and then expect to see Stephen Valiquette start against Philly on Friday.
<li>One of the knocks against Tom Renney is his stubborn loyalty to his players, but it occasionally pays off, and that was the case last night with Martin Straka. Although Straka has clearly been struggling of late, Renney not only kept him in the lineup, but even moved him up front on the power play with Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. That power play didn’t score, but Straka still had what may have been his best game of the season.
With jump on every puck and what seemed like a half-dozen scoring chances, Straka offered a reminder of just how explosive a player he was, and perhaps can still be down the stretch. And if that player resurfaces, the Rangers suddenly look a lot more dangerous.
<li>The plan after tonight is to go directly to Philadelphia and then have a day of off-ice team-building tomorrow. I don’t know what that means yet: maybe they’re all going to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
More from Newark later…