Three days off for the Rangers, well-deserved after last night’s solid win over the Devils … but maybe they’d want to keep playing, no?
This break marks the end of the grueling schedule of 21 games in 36 with only two breaks of two days between games, and in one of those breaks they were traveling to Phoenix.
So how’d they survive it?
The Rangers went 8-10-3 (or 8-13, depending if you’re a NHL Kool-Aid drinker or a realist), scoring two or fewer 13 times and being shut out five times in that stretch.
So now they have three left — against Nashville Wednesday, at Pitt Friday, and home against Tampa Sunday — before the Olympics. Which also means they have a week left before the roster freeze, and when the roster unfreezes there will be three days until the trading deadline. Interesting times ahead.
1) What do you think the Rangers’ record might look like if they defended around their net the way they have defended against the Devils this year? Their lack of scoring aside (and most teams are in the same boat in terms of offense) the Rangers have lost plenty of points because of their stick-checking, poke-checking, style around the net. Last night bodies were being piled upon bodies, cross-checks aptly applied to spinal columns, etc. That’s how you defend your goalie. (though, good as they were defensively, the Devils still fired 42 shots).
2) The goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, was splendid. It looked as if he were out of his net just a tad farther, and on his skates a split second longer, all of which may have allowed his glove hand to be better. Whatever he did, the glove hand was unusually good, and Lundqvist — as he is in most Rangers wins — was spectacular. They will need more of the same the rest of the way.
3) Did you see these two fights on MSG’s hockey night show: Colton Orr’s knockout punch of Matt Carkner? Wow! Too bad the Rangers couldn’t get him over the summer. What? They had him? And then there was Ales Kotalik’s fight for Calgary. Looked like Kotalik took hugging lessons from Brashear.
4) How about the captain ripping one inside the post instead of his usual blocked/wide shot. He’s got nine now. Maybe he can salvage something down the stretch.
5) Great game by Del Zotto. Pretty good games by Staal and Girardi. Best games in a while for Gilroy and Redden. I didn’t notice Rozsival much, which is probably a good thing.
6) It occurred to me while watching that the Rangers’ home-ice record can’t be very good since they started putting those eye-sore virtual ads on the end glass. It also occurred that MSG now misses a lot of between whistles stuff trying to squeeze in all its sponsored this-and-that, which means a lot to the network, but didley to the fans. And how do the Knicks bump the Rangers to one of those sub-channels? Because they were having the honor of being slaughtered by LeBron?
7) Sean Avery got Kovalchuk off the ice at the end of the game, which reminded me of the 2007 playoff series, when Avery was scoring and agitating at his best. He was asked, after a similar skirmish with Kovalchuk, if he would take that tradeoff every time.
“Not really, not right now,” Avery said. “Would you? I’d rather have me on the ice than him.”