OK, given. But that’s a good, good win. That’s a tough game to be the road team, with the coaching change and the feelings of getting the popular coach fired, and the new coaches on the bench. And then a really quick goal by the home team and the place is all pumped up. It’s a tough game because there’s not much spark between these teams, and the Rangers had just beaten three pretty good rivals in a row.
And I thought the Rangers matched the intensity of the Canes out of the gate and even before the power play that began the momentum swing and the three-goal outburst, the Rangers dominated for stretches. Had the puck a lot. Pressured the Canes all over the ice. Forced the issue. And created chances again. And goals.
1) The Rangers were quite physical, which is a testament to their will, and a sign that last year’s “identity” is returning. And of course, leading the way, was the Captain. Then, late and with the lead, they started going down and blocking shots. More “identity” (special membership badge to John Mitchell). And, c’mon kids, a lot of that is on the coach, who has maybe taken a baby step backward this year in his dealings with the other humans, but who can flat-out coach.
2) I still can’t believe that there were some people here that felt this team was awful, had forgotten that this was what they were about last year, had thought that it was headed for a disaster, even. WTB?
3) That was some fluky goal late in the first by Carolina’s figure skater, Skinner. Yes, Brad Richards lost the draw. But Brandon Prust slid out and blocked the shot, it hopped up in the air and the D-man baseball batted it right to Skinner, who caught it with his glove and dropped it to his stick for a one-timer. Not much you can do to stop a goal like that.
4) All the analysts during and after the game missed it after the Marian Gaborik goal, but they were cracking up on the bench because Artem Anisimov almost blew a tire just before he made the pass across the slot to Gaborik. Which might also have helped freeze the defense and Cam Ward for a moment, too. I thought this was one of Anisimov’s better games.
5) Sean Avery keeps getting it done … with his limited opportunities. You can’t tell me he played this way last year. He didn’t. Pretty cool pass by Gaborik on No. 16’s goal, too.
6) When it got to 4-2, Johnny Mac had that same look on his face that he had as Devils coach last year.
7) The PP was quite good. Again. Even the times it didn’t score.
8) The third Carolina goal followed a series of icings, which pinned the Rangers deep … and we’ve seen that movie a few times this season.
9) The Rangers got two more goals from D men — Ryan McMonster and Michael Sauer … I love it when people who should know better say “they’re joining the rush.” Not the point. They’re active in the offensive zone, not just joining the rush. They’re involved in the play. And they’re free to be involved because A) the coaches encourage them to do it and B) the forwards are responsible enough to read and cover when a D-man moves up. And that was a really good breakout pass by Jeff Woywitka that started the Anisimov-to-Gaborik goal.
10) Brian Boyle was really good again. Physical. 10-3 on draws. And playing Papa Bear to the two kids on his wings who have sure helped light the fuse since they arrived.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Ryan Callahan.
2) Marian Gaborik.
3) Brian Boyle.
AP photos, above.