First things first. Our live chat today has been moved to 2 p.m. so that those of you who are going to be trying to get playoff tickets when they go on sale at noon can do what you have to do. Then get back here and join us for a chat about the clinching of the division and the East’s No. 1 seed, about the season to date, about the playoffs upcoming, etc. Or else.
1) I doubt many people envisioned 4-0 after one period, 5-1 late in the second. But, seriously, did anybody still doubt that this team would play this way in this game, with what was at stake? We have (or should have) learned these last two season about the character of this team. That this team handles big situations in a big way. And, by the way, even during that “swoon” in March, they lost three in a row once and lost two in a row in regulation once. They bounce back as well as any team in the sport. That trait should suit them well starting April 11 or 12.
2) Hold your breath about Henrik Lundqvist’s arm. He was smiling and he doesn’t think it’s serious, but let’s wait until he goes through the swelling and probably an exam before we’re sure it’s minor. He certainly doesn’t need to play these last two games if rest will help him heal.
3) The Rangers need to win one of two to tie the team record for wins (52), and need three out of four points to tie the record for points (112), both set in 1993-94. They still have a shot at the Presidents’ Trophy. Those would all be nice, but not necessary to their success in the playoffs. That all said, I think the Rangers will play everybody who’s healthy the last two, and play them as if they really do matter, just because that’s who they are. That’s how they play.
4) Back to Lundqvist again. The Rangers went 6-0 against the Flyers, and Lundqvist was the best player on either team in the entire series. It has nothing to do with him outplaying Ilya Bryzgalov—that’s a humangous mistmatch—but he has just played sensational goal in the six games. And he did again last night. When the Flyers got back to 5-3, I understand that fans tend to get nervous. But really there wasn’t a chance in Holy Hell that Lundqvist was going to give up six goals in a game (the Rangers have allowed as many as five in a 60-minute game once).
6) That five-spot has to further worry those jackwagon Philly fans about Bryzgalov.
7) Looks like the Patrick Division is going to have four of the top six seeds, four of the top five records, and probably three of the four teams in the Eastern semifinals. Pens-Bruins start backups.
8) Someday, Peter Laviolette is going to wake up and realize the best game the Flyers played out of the six against the Rangers, Jody Shelley, Tostitos and Zac Rinaldo didn’t play. But he keeps putting those idiots out there.
9) Dan Girardi rightly wore the hat, I thought. On the first goal, all five Rangers on the ice had a hand in it. The one that got overlooked was the play Girardi made, at the red line, as the Rangers were changing. He banked a soft pass off the boards that allowed the Rangers to complete the change, and allowed Brad Richards to stay onside. Richards got it to Carl Hagelin, who fell and still dumped it behind the net to Marian Gaborik, who made a great pass to Ryan McDonagh, who read the play perfectly and jumped up and scored. Then Girardi made the pass up the middle for the Artem Anisimov goal. Not to mention that he and McDonagh did their usual job defensively.
10) I know this is out of left field again, but Anton Stralman had a second straight strong game against a very physical opponent. Could be a good sign for the tournament.
11) Good job by Brandon Prust going after that clown Rinaldo after he jousted with Marian Gaborik. That is the correct time to do something like that. It has to be dealt with immediately, and Prust dealt with it. Good for him. And in the game’s other bout, I wonder if Mike Rupp got hurt against Shelley. He didn’t play another shift, I don’t think.
12) The Rangers took too many penalties. And you can’t really argue most of them. The one that was somewhat stumping was the Ryan Callahan penalty early against Wayne Simmonds. Callahan went in with his arm up high, so if they think he punched or elbowed Simmonds, OK, no problem. But when Simmonds retaliates with a punch, that’s got to be called too. Right?
13) We talk a lot about the Rangers’ overall lack of skill, and some regularly rankle about their inability to make passes. But I’ve got to say, they pass the puck exceptionally well from the D-zone and out, and even better through the neutral zone, and the result is lots of chances off the rush. Or at least that was the case last night. And their puck-moving on the power play has become excellent, almost overnight.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Dan Girardi.
2) Henrik Lundqvist.
3) Ryan McDonagh.
kenny albert rules!’ Three Rangers Stars:
1) Henrik Lundqvist.
2) Ryan McDonagh.
3) Artem Anisimov.
AP photos, above.