It says a lot about a team when it has lost its way a little bit and vows to fix that, against a good team on a roll, and actually pulls it off. Now, our view today might be a bit fuzzier if the Hurricanes and not the Hobbit had scored in overtime, and we’d be pretty concerned about your boys scoring just two regulation goals in the last three games.
But, if you paid attention, regardless of the sudden goal drought, the Rangers got back to what they do best, and played a very solid, 60+ minutes. Good way to close out the first half.
1) I loved the plays on the two goals, and the quotes from Mats Zuccarello and Brandon Dubinsky about them (Zuccarello’s remark about closing his eyes on the pass to Gilroy was classic, and his quote on being small was even better; this guy gets it). Dubinsky was a beast on both goals—the first in a great battle in the corner, the second the entire length of the rink.
3) Despite his lost faceoff/lost man on the Eric Staal goal, Boyle=Monster.
4) I guess Brandon Prust’s shoulder is feeling better. Kid’s as tough as a $2 steak.
5) Cam Ward was fabulous, and so was Zuccarello’s winning shot. But, I’m sorry, that’s a bad goal, another case of a goalie on his knees for absolutely no reason, allowing a terrible-angle shot to beat him short side high. Stand-up goalies hug that post and that shot hits them without making an effort. It’s an epidemic, I tell you.
5) Michal Rozsival’s ribcage injury might give Ryan McDonagh a game or two on this trip. I’m not rooting for Rozsival to be hurt, but I am anxious to see McDonagh in an NHL game.
6) That play by Steve Eminger, to break up the 3-on-1, was great … and the second 3-on-1 Rangers defensemen have thwarted in the last two games. So why can’t they stop a 2-on-1? And if Eminger doesn’t get the very tip of his stick on that pass, are we complaining about him sliding out of the play the way Gilroy and Del Zotto did the previous two games? And do the Rangers lose in regulation? And is this now a slump? Shows how it’s a game of inches.
7) Did you catch in the notes last night that the Rangers are practicing in Farmers Branch, Texas, today? That has to be a first. I told Steve Zipay that I want a postcard.
8) I thought Marian Gaborik and Sean Avery both played one of their best games of the season. Avery was rewarded for it. Gaborik was really, really good.
9) I thought was cool that when Lundqvist was asked about the young kids playing so well on the team, the one he mentioned first and foremost was Michael Sauer.
10) I think the Rangers want Chris Kreider to turn pro at the end of this college season and get a jump on his career, which would probably start in Reddenville, but soon lead to the big league.
11) Carolina, especially with Eric Staal playing that way, and Ward playing that way, and with Paul Maurice behind the bench, is going to be heard from before this is over.
12) Meant to pass this along from the NYR the other day: “One of the biggest new traffic drivers to newyorkrangers.com has been the addition of Norwegian hockey sensation Mats Zuccarello. Since Zuccarello was called up, his player page has been the most-viewed individual player page on the site, and game stories including him have been more popular than typical game stories. The story on Zuccarello’s Dec. 23 debut was the most-viewed game story this season with just under 10,000 views in its first six days on the site. Traffic from Norway is also at an all-time high. Last week, Norwegian traffic was 8.3 percent of all page views, placing it ahead of Canada (7.1 percent) at No. 2 behind the U.S. A year ago, Norwegian traffic represented only 0.3 percent of site traffic.” I don’t imagine those numbers went down last night.
13) Somebody noted the other day that I often end up with 13 of these, and I keep surprising myself by doing it, accidentally, for some reason. Perhaps the best news the last few games is that Lundqvist is really back on top of his game.
AP Photo, above.