I’m not going to attempt to talk some of you off the ledge. You’re nuts if you are in a panic over this little slide here. And if I knew a bookie, I’d put down a bet that the Rangers, because of who they are this year, will respond in the right manner tonight. (won’t hurt to have the guitarist in goal).
1) I don’t want to sound like somebody throwing stuff against the wall, and I don’t go for rumors and scuttlebutt, so that when I tell you I know something you’ll believe me. I can only tell you that somebody who really, really would know, pretty much said that there’s no shot Dustin Brown is being traded. If he’s wrong, then I’m wrong. But I very much doubt he’s wrong.
2) Yay! The Rangers clinched NHL-.500. Now the other 29 teams can chase that.
4) Martin Biron was better than he was against Chicago, but he wasn’t good. And saying that, there sure was some slop being played in front of him for the second start in a row, especially early on by the Brad Richards line. A lot of guys standing flat-footed, a lot of guys not thinking. And even though there was some hitting, I didn’t think the Rangers played with their usual grind where they make it a rough night for the opponent.
5) Ruslan Fedotenko’s stick returned from its six-game suspension for hitting him in the face.
6) I’m not close to saying that Marc Staal is close to being himself again. But you saw a couple of sparks there with the PPG, and the play that broke up the rush that ended up with the great Artem Anisimov touchdown pass to Marian Gaborik.
7) And Anisimov made two spectacular defensive plays. At least two. Ryan Callahan, who was flat-footed on the first goal, made another huge backchecking play in the third to thwart Kyle Okposo 2-on-1 from Michael Grabner.
8) Did you see how the Islanders scored their PPG? By outnumbering the Rangers in front of the net? Did you see how simple and easy that was? Now, even though the Rangers scored a couple of PPGs of their own—and so maybe this isn’t the right time to be critical about it—did you see how many times during their PPs the Rangers had three men above the circles? You’re not outnumbering anybody down low if you have three players above the circles, unless it’s a 5-on-2, and last time I checked, they didn’t have 5-on-2s in hockey.
9) Speaking of checking rules, how about that mind-numbing penalty where Brian Boyle called for Michael Del Zotto to throw him his stick, and Del Zotto did it? How do NHL players not know that rule? “That scares the hell out of me,” John Tortorella said. And, of course, the Hockey Gods never let you kill a dumb penalty like that. And the Rangers didn’t.
10) If they are going to have BCATHGEs, then the Rangers need to re-think their BCATHGE lineup, eh? How are Derek Stepan and Anisimov not in the top four? And I’d put Brandon Dubinsky in there ahead of Richards. Boy, Gaborik has become money in those things, though. I still think it’s an idiotic way to decide a hockey game.
11) Why oh why wouldn’t the Islanders see what they can get for Evgeni Nabokov, who sure wasn’t any better than Biron in this game. Are they really going hell-bent to make the playoffs? Because they aren’t going to make it. Unless the NHL schedules a lot more games against the Rangers.
12) Have I ever told you how much I enjoy that soothing, relaxing, calming ride out to Hempstead Turnpike, where my car was once totaled with me in it? Fortunately I do not carry a weapon in the glove box.
13) Probably stating the obvious here, but tonight will likely be the last time Wojtek Wolski gets prucha’d by the Rangers. He’s a good and decent guy and his teammates really like him, and you can tell he’s thoughtful with his tweets. But there’s no spot for him in the lineup, he’s not coming back next year, and I think they’ll make him disappear by the deadline Monday.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Artem Anisimov.
2) Marian Gaborik.
3) Derek Stepan.
AP photos, above.