I made the case before the game last night that Scott Gomez’s return “could have a trickle down effect on the rest of the Rangers lineup”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2008/11/24/the-opponent-is-irrelevant/.
Hey, what do you know, “that was exactly the case.”:http://www.lohud.com/article/20081125/SPORTS01/811250380/-1/SPORTS
I next plan to turn my prognosticating to the financial markets. Who’s with me? Anyone? Hello?
Again, it wasn’t a perfect win by any stretch. Against a promising but ultimately mediocre Phoenix team, the Rangers again surrendered far too many odd-man rushes to start, and if it wasn’t for Henrik Lundqvist, the score after the first period could have been fairly one-sided (I think I’m going to block save that text since I seem to use it a lot).
But—and here the “but” is fairly important—the Rangers finally found way to settle down. Hard forecheck. Good back pressure. Poised decisions with the puck. Lather, rinse, repeat.
How much of an impact did Gomez make? Plenty, actually. Along with his ridiculous run on faceoffs—he finished 19-4—he was the player who consistently steered the puck out of trouble and up ice. Combine that with his upbeat vibe and you forget how important a player Gomez is to the Rangers when he’s healthy—which he hasn’t been for most of the season.
A lot of worthwhile stories in the paper today on the Great One’s return—I’m talking Gretzky, not Gomez—to the Garden.
Mark Herrmann at Newday chose a different path, “looking at Phoenix rookie Viktor Tikhonov”:http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/ny-spmark255941226nov25,0,5974154.column, who is the grandson of the infamous Soviet coach of the same name.
Meanwhile, Tom Renney’s defensive pairings seemed to make a difference as well, and here’s why: While Michal Rozsival continued to stumble on some isolated plays, last night he had the benefit of Marc Staal backing him up. The result was Rozsival at least seemed to have the confidence to be more decisive with the puck.
Again, he wasn’t perfect. But as opposed to a player who has both gun shy and ineffective in recent weeks, Rozsival was at least as proactive as I’ve seen him in some time.
Besides, whatever you think of Rozsival’s play this season, at least he hasn’t had this happen yet.