1) This is one of my favorite of many stats so far through 40 games, with the mid-point of the season coming Thursday: Henrik Lundqvist, who has won seven in a row, has limited opponents to two goals or fewer 21 times in 29 starts. Holy shishkebob. Yet he was surprisingly 1-3 in shootouts before last night. “It was our turn to win this one and we deserved it, too,” Lundqvist said, and he was right.
2) Anybody watching Shane Doan in that game? Does anybody think he wouldn’t be a great rental for this team? I think he sure would … and I think the Rangers coach likes and admires him, too. Lundqvist made just an enormous save on him to clinch the breakaway contest victory.
3) It was funny how John Tortorella said before the game how they need more scoring from the third and fourth lines, and in the first period, almost from the git-go, John Mitchell, Brian Boyle, Brandon Prust, Ruslan Fedotenko all had huge chances … and didn’t score. Fedotenko ultimately did, with huge help from Boyle in front. Tortorella’s right. They will need more scoring than they’ve gotten from those guys, plus Brandon Dubinsky, in the second half. And you could even include Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan on the first line
4) In case I’ve never told you this before, I really, strongly dislike the breakaway contest they sometimes hold after the hockey game is over as a way of deciding the hockey game. But that shootout was plain crazy. Four of the first five Rangers shooters didn’t even get a shot on goal. What is that?
6) Wait. Penalty shot in OT? Do you think there was an NBC conspiracy?
7) Mike Smith was pretty good all night, because even though the Rangers’ top two lines were mediocre, I thought territorially they dominated the game. Had the puck a bunch. More than usual. And the Coyotes’ trap had a lot to do with that. But unlike other traps, the Rangers handled this one exceptionally well.
8) That PP really stinks.
9) For some reason, the atmosphere in the Garden last night was pretty solid, right from the start, despite a visit from a non-conference, trapping team. And it wasn’t Michal Rozsival’s return, I’m pretty sure.
10) Always good to see two favorites who were around last night … The Great Sam Weinman, founder of the blog; and of course Don Maloney.
11) Going back to point 3 about the scoring. Yes, they’re going to need more of it from all four lines. They are also going to hit patches of three, four, six, eight games where they can’t buy goals. But the way this relentless team defends, and the way it plays hard for almost the full 60 (65) almost every night, it’s going to win more games than most teams that don’t score enough. Does that make sense?
12) Does it make sense that the Patrick Division, Eastern Conference, National freakin’ Hockey League-leading New York Rangers have lost nine regulation games over the first 40 games of a hockey season?
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Henrik Lundqvist.
2) Marian Gaborik.
3) Carl Hagelin.
AP photos, above.