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Guest blogger Authorben: Rangers-Avalanche in review
Posted By On March 18, 2012 @ 4:28 am In Hockey,New York Rangers,NHL | 245 Comments
First and foremost, thanks again to Carp for giving me the opportunity to take his place in the lineup for this game.
Semyon Varlamov was a brick wall in goal for the Avalanche and the result was a 3-1 victory for the visitors. The Rangers, now 2-2 on their season-long seven-game home stand, fired 42 shots on net — their highest total of the season. But we’ve seen this from Varlamov before. Remember the playoffs a couple of years ago, when he was between the pipes for the Caps against the Rangers in the play-ons? Stood on his head then and he did the same thing tonight. Superb with the glove.
So here are my other thoughts on the match:
1) The top line bottoms out — No points for Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Carl Hagelin tonight. The line is razor-thin for the Rangers right now in terms of production up and down the lineup. Secondary scoring will be critical from here on in.
2) The fourth line steps forth — The John Mitchell, Mike Rupp, Mats Zuccarello line was strong on the forecheck all night — and arguably the Rangers best trio in this one. And it was Zuccarello with the lone Ranger goal. He can pass the puck a bit, too.
3) The defense didn’t rest — For the most part, the Rangers d-men did a fine job of keeping pucks alive in the Avalanche zone with timely pinches along the wall. This was an integral part of the team sustaining enough pressure to put 42 shots on net.
4) But while they kept things going in the offensive zone, something offensive happened in the defensive zone — twice…
5) Stewed Bickel — No. 41 got burned badly by Matt Hunwick on the 1-1 goal. He just didn’t look set on the play. And Mr. Hunwick isn’t exactly Mr. Malkinstein.
6) Boyled by the game winner — Brian Boyle, Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko did a horrible job with their defensive-zone coverage on the Gabriel Landeskog goal that turned out to be the clincher. Nice deflection by the kid between Henrik Lundqvist’s pads. But there was nobody around him.
7) Hold on with that holding call! — And speaking of Landeskog — so Ryan McDonagh takes his hand off his stick for a split second and the referee signals a penalty against him early in the third, assuming that No. 27 is the guilty party. However, the right call was missed. In fact, it was Landeskog who was holding McDonagh’s stick. The reaction by Torts was priceless and totally appropriate. 
8) Another power shortage — Zip for 5 on the man advantage. I won’t get into playing the role of tactician here. The Rangers just have to score some power-play goals. Period.
9) The hits just didn’t keep on comin’ — The Rangers were outhit 27-17 in this game. On home ice? Haven’t seen that happen much this season.
10) So now the Rangers are 44-20-7 and only two points ahead of the hard-charging Crosbys. Next up — they have to deal with the Devils Monday night as the home stand continues.
My three Rangers stars:
1) Mats Zuccarello.
2) Ryan Callahan.
3) Ryan McDonagh.
AP photos, above.
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