So, I guess we can say this streak isn’t a fluke, right? I mean, the Rangers have won games by dominating, won games when they were less than dominating, won games protecting leads, won games by coming from behind. They have gotten up for the big teams, haven’t let down against the lesser teams.
And won. And won. And won. Twelve out of 14 now. A seven-game winning streak, a lousy two-game losing streak (after which the sky was once again falling, of course) and now five more wins in a row. Next they go home for four of five.
1) Right off the hop, a bad play. The screen by Derek Stepan on the early Downie goal, that’s just a bad play. Lack of awareness. Gotta get out of the way of a long one like that, or smother it. I guess that’s what Henrik Lundqvist was telling him. But Stepan showed a lot of good stuff later, and you have to love the way he wound up and buried the game-winning goal with a slapper. A lot of times a guy will throw a less-than-full-speed shot and somebody will get a piece of it. Mike Bossy used to talk about trying to rip the back of the net on every shot. Stepan did it on the winner. Plus, the kid’s a gamer, isn’t he?
2) Marian Gaborik was flying. Again. That was some pass by Artem Anisimov to spring him on the break-in early, which was a good chance, then the breakaway from Derek Stepan.
3) And I believe Anisimov has gotten better and better the last few games, last night being his best long before he scored the tying goal in the third, and long before he made the whole play that wound up in Stepan’s game-winner. Maybe Anisimov’s starting to feel comfortable on the wing. Sure looks good there now.
4) The Rangers, during this streak, have had some good luck during partial line changes, when one forward goes for a change and the other two remain on. Happened on the Avery goal in Carolina, off a Gaborik pass, and the Anisimov goal last night, on a Callahan rebound.
5) The Bolts, I thought, were pretty aggressive compared to what you expect from a team that sits back in a 1-3-1.
6) That said, this wasn’t a very physical performance by the Rangers’ standards.
7) Looked like Brad Richards, early on, might have taken a few shots he wouldn’t normally take, maybe because he was playing against his boys in his old house. But seemed to be a few times when a pass might have been better.
8) The last few games, it seems the refs have backed off the ridiculous number of soft calls. Is this global de-pansification?
9) Brandon Dubinsky needs to figure out how to get his legs moving before the third period. The two times he moved his feet in the first two, he got decent scoring chances. But it didn’t get him going either time. Plus, defensive faceoffs are getting him a few extra shifts, and he’s not grabbing the bull by the horns, so to speak. Thought he was pretty good in the third.
10) Man, Carl Hagelin’s speed is useful on all parts of the ice, like when he hustled back to the offensive blue line to keep a puck in, then beats the defense back behind the net. I’ve said it before, loads of guys can skate—we’ve seen it with Fraser, Fata, Lisin—but it’s only a weapon if you can use it.
11) Matt Gilroy was victimized on rebounds on both of the Rangers’ first two goals.
12) I wrote a pretty long piece for The Journal News and LoHud.com today, about how tough Dan (Block Ness Monster) Girardi is. You can see it here.
13) The MSG/Knicks people know that Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” is not about, you know, basketball, right?
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Artem Anisimov.
2) Derek Stepan.
3) Ryan McDonagh.
AP photos, above.