That’s a win that feels like two. Or three. Given what they had going into the game, and what they lost (Girardi and Prust) during the game, and again being behind after two periods, and tying it up in the third, and playing a wild overtime and then having the Italian kid from Norway win it in the shootout … wow!
It gives them a little leeway in the last two games before the well-earned and very-much-needed six-day all-star break.
1) You guys already know what I think about the skills competition, but since they have them, and since they count, well, you’d better win them. And the Rangers have this little weapon (whose name ends in ELLO, which for some reason I like) who, along with the goaltender, got them a second point in a three-point game against a team on their tails.
2) That said, I thought Mats Zuccarello was fantastic during the 65 minutes of actual, you know, hockey, too. And Henrik Lundqvist was spectacular when things weren’t going so well for the Rangers, both in the Original 65 and in the skills competition. Lundqvist could be blamed for neither goal, and he really gave the team a chance to come back. He’s been really good for a while now.
3) I know he won’t take it if he doesn’t have to, but Brandon Prust really ought to call in sick for these next two games, or be given the days off, so he can have nine days to heal a bum shoulder, a bad hand and now a badly bruised foot. It looked like he couldn’t move that shoulder for the whole game, and then he played a ton limping on that foot—which he had to think might be broken—and he was still out there. So I suspect that if he can skate at all, and if he can hold his stick, he’ll be on the ice against Alex Ovechkin (who had a hat trick last night) on Monday.
4) Brian Boyle=well, you know. Oh, hell, I’m going to say it again. Brian Boyle=Monster. You know what I really like about this guy. He wants to be even better than this. He wants to be a great player, not just a good player. He really does. And the way he works, and the way he cares, he might get there.
5) I liked what Dan Girardi did, tossing hands with the captain of the Thrashers after a borderline hit on Marc Staal. Hey, that’s your partner, you think he’s hurt, you think it was a cheap shot, you go after the guy. That’s how this team’s togetherness was built in the preseason and early in the regular season. And I thought that shove on Staal, when he was off-balance like that, was at least dangerous, and possibly dirty, and I’ve seen lesser shots in the same situation called penalties. Put it another way, if Sean Avery did that …
6) Speaking of Sean Avery, the guy has really taken on some responsibility and ownership of the team with the additional ice time he’s had out of necessity. Loved the way he played in Atlanta.
7) If Girardi can’t play, well, paging Michael Del Zotto. I think they should send MDZ to D.C. anyway, as a precaution. (Ooops, I wrote that before they recalled him and Evgeny Grachev).
8) Dustin Byfuglien is a pretty scary guy to play against, but the Rangers did a pretty good job on him, and Boyle beat him for the tying goal. Marc Staal, who had a tough game in Raleigh the other night, rebounded very well, and stopped Big Buff with a neat little skate check. Staal was superb in this game.
9) That center-ice camera position … could it have been any further from the ice? Was it even in Atlanta?
10) Did Zuccarello say “Aasen” during the post-game?
11) Thought that some of the other kids also had big games, especially the veteran of the rookies, Derek Stepan, along with Michael Sauer and Ryan McDonagh.
12) This is way, way overdue, but kudos to the Rangers for being so honest with their fans about injuries this season. They are one of the few teams, if not the only team in the NHL, to not treat their fans like jackwagons. Good for them, and good on them.
AP Photo, above.
Congratulations, Lev! You have been declared by the judge (me) as the winner and champion of our ticket contest! You are the man! I’ll let you know how we’re going to go about delivery.