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Rangers-Islanders in review
Posted By On March 12, 2012 @ 4:08 am In Hockey,New York Rangers,NHL | 503 Comments
1) I did a lot of kidding the last few days about “Must-win” games and I really don’t believe there are any such things until you get to a game you really must win, like Game 82 the last two seasons, and Game 5 against Washington last spring. That doesn’t mean last night’s game wasn’t important. It was. The sooner they got a point, then two, the better. I don’t think this team, the way it plays, the way the players approach games, will really ever go into a downward spiral, though. 
2) I know that a lot of you didn’t like the way the game was going, or the way it went, but the Rangers really did dominate the game by a large margin. Other than, you know, the goals. And let’s be honest, two of them were kind of fluky — Girardi banks one off Tavares’ glove; Moulson scores that one off the top of the Green Monster — and the third comes off a deflected pass and a breakaway out of the penalty box. They really didn’t allow much more, and Henrik Lundqvist, who actually laughed at the way he played in the first two periods, didn’t have to make a whole bunch of big saves.
3) He sure was big, though, in the third and OT. Wasn’t he?
4) I can’t imagine what the referees saw that allowed them to call the four-minute penalty on Derek Stepan for a stick that didn’t draw blood (that’s not the definition), but certainly didn’t cause an obvious injury (causing injury is the definition).
5) The penalty on Brian Boyle for boarding Tavares? Pansification. If anything, I thought the Anisimov hit on Okposo was closer to being boarding. But I don’t think either should have been a penalty. 
6) PS, in case you wonder why people, especially teammates, like Boyle, it’s because of his willingness to do things like get hit with pucks in all three zones — standing in front of the net on two goals last night despite being all banged up. And in case you wonder why the media likes him, it’s not just that he’s bright, always available and thoughtful and pleasant. It’s because he says stuff like “I think we hate to lose more than we love to win.” That might be this year’s “It’s Just Pain.”
7) Mats Zuccarello. I enjoyed the part where John Tortorella said the Rangers hadn’t seen some of the passes he made, all season, and that some of them surprised some of the players. But I don’t know if he’s staying when Ryan Callahan gets back. I don’t know who he replaces. I think he ought to get a shot to stay, though … make a decision, give him a look on the PP again. How could it hurt to take out one of the fourth-liners? Plus, if you get to one of those silly skills games, he can be a weapon. TLIKFN looked really funny next to John Scott and Mike Rupp in warmups. Like somebody threw a toy on the ice.
8) The Rangers were really, really good and patient with that winning 4-on-3 power play despite the idiotic chant in the building which grew: “Shoot the puck! Shoot the puck!” That’s one time you don’t want to just fire it because there’s so much time and space. Officially they were 1-for-8 on 4-on-3 PPs before last night, so I’m going to have to go back and look. I thought they won at least one other game during a 4-on-3 in OT (in Boston on the Ference penalty maybe?)
9) By the way, I was told definitively that the spotlights in the renovated Garden have not been changed, that they’re the exact same lights they’ve always had. I thought I’d noticed more glare on the ice, but it could be because of the different angle of the new pressbox. And if I was wrong, that’s totally different — because, first, I didn’t complain about it, and second, it doesn’t matter if I did. But Tim Thomas? Just shut up.
10) Are you guys glad you don’t have to see the Islanders again? Imagine. Most teams would be happy to have a few games left with them down the stretch. John Tavares=Monster.
11) Worst stat in sports: +/- … Five Rangers were -1 … Girardi, Staal, Gaborik, Boyle and Zuccarello. All the others were even. Five Islanders were +1. All the others were even.
12) I can’t for the life of me figure out why the Islanders didn’t trade Evgeni Nabokov before the deadline.
13) Not saying X+Y=Z. But Brandon Dubinsky misses virtually all of three games, and the Rangers go 0-3 and stink in third periods. Dubinsky comes back, the Rangers win with a strong third period. But boy, oh boy, do they miss the captain.
14) If Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik could both play like that the rest of the way — and Gaborik has all season — watch out.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Brad Richards.
2) Brian Boyle.
3) Marian Gaborik.
Cindy Crosby’s Three Rangers Stars:
1) Brad Richards.
2) Marian Gaborik.
3) Brian Boyle.
AP photos, above.
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