I don’t know which game was the Rangers’ second best of the season, but it wasn’t even close to this one. And not just because of the score … if they played the exact same game and, say, lost in a shootout, this still was their best of the year by miles.
1) … and boy did they need it. If you heard the post-game audio I posted, I talked to a bunch of players about how this was the way they played last year when they were successful. Hard on the puck, relentless, everybody doing his part … and for almost the whole 60. Because, honestly, most games, it had been about 30. Or fewer.
2) You could see Ryan Callahan coming on for a while. You could see Derek Stepan was getting closer. And Michael Del Zotto. But now you see Brandon Dubinsky playing very strong in all three zones, and Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust. This team’s not good enough to win with three or four guys. But it’s plenty good enough when the whole group goes together. And, as I’ve said before, a lot of stuff won’t matter if they don’t get offense from the top two lines.
3) I thought Andre (Bell Biv) Deveaux (The Bahama Bomba) was pretty good in his role, and I didn’t know that he played for John Tortorella in Tampa. He looked decent in the preseason, too. So given that, and given that the two non-contributors (Erik Christensen and Wojtek Wolski) both contributed in this game, and given that NHL coaches rarely change lineups after a solid win … it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens to No. 16 tomorrow in practice and Thursday against Anaheim.
4) In my opinion, though, the smart thing to do is to play him immediately, avoid all the nonsense that will surround him not playing, and all the pressure that will be put upon him and the team (and the coach) if they wait until after a loss for Sean Avery to get a uniform. You scratch one of the above mentioned. They’ll get over it.
6) There was a minor flap yesterday because Artem Anisimov said he was briefly unconscious Saturday when clobbered by Zenon Konopka. The flap, of course, is that unconsciousness signals concussion. But the team and the coach insist that Anisimov’s language barrier caused a misunderstanding of the question, and that he never was unconscious. So here’s a primer for Anisimov. The definition of unconscious is that back-hander up under the water bottle. That’s unconscious.
7) The penalty call against Boyle? The tripping call vs. Del Zotto? Pansification. How the hell is Avery going to play with all these new rules?
8) How about Martin (2-0) Biron?
9) Some Halloween stuff, because, man NYC can be a crazy place on Oct. 31. First, I’ve told youse this story before, but for those who haven’t heard it … The team always had/has a Halloween party. One year, after the Rangers signed Edmonton’s Scott Frasier to a ridiculous contract (he was another one of those Rico Fata/Enver Lisin guys), he showed up at the team Halloween party with a bandit’s mask and a sack. Asked what he was supposed to be, Frasier said, “My agent.”
10) There were also a lot of fans dressed as seats last night. Especially the Yankee Stadium seats near the glass. Attendance is always down early in the season. But you have to wonder if the renovated Garden will be the new Yankee Stadium, minus the moat, where the best seats are too expensive to be filled. Seriously a puck flipped over the glass into the first row, and it became a race between a guy from the fourth row and a guy 15 empty seats away in the first row, The guy from the fourth row wound up face down in the aisle, the guy from 15 empty seats away got the puck.
11) Whenever I see the Sharks, I remember that night in San Jose when Eric Lindros suffered his first concussion as a Ranger, and Theo Fleury punched out the mascot to begin the road trip to hell.
12) Joe Thornton thinks the Rangers are soft. Those would be the Rangers who are 2-0 against San Jose the last two seasons. Really, Joe? Wait ‘til Avery gets here.
13) He won’t get a star on this night, but Marian Gaborik was a horse again.
14) That one shift, I thought the Sharks were going to run out the clock.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Ryan Callahan.
2) Dan Girardi.
3) Brandon Dubinsky.
AP photos, above.