Pretty good homestand afterall, eh? 4-1-1 sounds better than 4-2, which is really what it was, right? I mean, if the breakaway contest win is a win, the breakaway contest loss should be a loss. But, you know, this is the NHL.
No matter how you slice it, that’s nine points out of 12 on the ‘stand, and 17 of 26 points for the season.
1) Derek Stepan. I know not everybody’s in love with his skating. But the kid’s hockey IQ is so high—really high—that he wins footraces because of anticipation. And he’s fast enough. Rugged enough. Responsible enough. He’s one of the head coach’s favorite players for a reason, or for a lot of reasons, and they have a great rapport. And that pass he made to Marian Gaborik was off-the-charts good.
2) Maybe it’s because he plays only once every four or five games or so, so you don’t think if him this way, but Martin Biron (3-0) is one of the best Rangers free-agent signings ever. And probably the best backup goalie in the NHL.
3) Ryan Callahan sure had his face rearranged a few times this weekend.
4) And Dan (Block Ness) Girardi already leads the league in ice bags and bruises and stitches. Seriously, though, the Rangers MUST find a way to limit his minutes some nights. Even if they have to lose a few battles to win a war. Girardi can’t play 30 every night for very long. And the Rangers can’t afford him either wearing down or getting hurt.
5) Dave Maloney predicted it on the radio side while I was driving to Blog HQ from my football double-header. Second night of back-to-backs, against a weary team on a long trip also playing back-to-backs, with no divisional animosity or rivalry … this had the smell of a flat stinker from the start. And it was. You know what? Good teams win those games anyway.
6) I am one of those who thinks Brad Richards is never going to live up to that contract. He’s just not that level of player. BUT … He sure does some nice things at the top of the power play, his presence has given it more confidence. Adding a No. 1 center has made the Rangers a more formidable faceoff team (critical for a team that needs puck possession) and the idea that he’s mentored the Step-child and Michael Del Zotto and other guys is big. That all said, it’s hard to believe how often he’s missed the net during 5-on-3s, and it’s not just him. You can’t miss the net 5-on-3.
7) I think Brandon Prust is banged up again. That’s just a guess. He looks it.
8) The Saviour Sean Avery’s done alright with the few crumbs of minutes he’s gotten. Going to be hard for him to get more.
9) So I guess we’re not firing/trading everybody today.
10) How about The Captain, at 50, running the NYC Marathon like he’s trying to win it. Awesome.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Derek Stepan.
2) Martin Biron.
3) Marian Gaborik.
AP photos, above.
Just a heads-up. Our friendly Bonehead donor has some more tickets to give away. So we’re going to be doing a contest of some sort this week. Stay tuned for details.