1) There’s going to be a lot of obvious stuff said in the next bunch of paragraphs because there was nothing subtle here. It was very obvious. For example, the Rangers had the puck for a lot of this game, more than in any other game this season. Did it get a little wide-open at times? Yeah, but sometimes you take what the opponent gives you. The Rangers had the puck a lot, were aggressive in going to get it, used their speed (and only three lines) to cause turnovers and create possession. And that’s how you slow down the best offense in the league and get some offense yourself. Obviously.
2) Obviously, also, the Rangers have been absolutely starved for secondary scoring, and they got it. That’s three or four good games in a row (other than the “dumbness” penalty) for Carl Hagelin, who again used those wheels when he had the puck, but even more effectively when he didn’t have it … and then again on the goal. And a really good two-way game for Derek Stepan and Taylor Pyatt, too, who had solid shift after shift. Stepan looked like he was going to break loose right from the start.
3) Honestly, I was thinking it was time to bust up the big line because Stepan and Hagelin needed a finisher on that line, and because the Rangers so desperately needed a second line to contribute, and because the big line was a little stale. Then Rick Nash goes and scores that go-ahead goal in Nash fashion, and that line had some really strong shifts, especially early. On the goal, there were a couple of other key plays including the breakout pass by Marc Staal (I thought it was Michael Del Zotto at first), and then another by Brad Richards to get it to Nash with speed.
5) Steven Stamkos=Monster. Obviously.
6) I know that the PPG by Tampa Bay in the second was on Rick Nash not getting the puck out of the D-zone, getting stripped from behind. But I don’t like that over-aggressiveness on the PK, where a D-man (in this case Ryan McDonagh) chases the puck beyond the circles. Especially when there’s a 60-goal scorer lurking around the net. Don’t like it at all.
7) Matt Gilroy had a nice outing, too, for his limited time.
8) John Tortorella sure looked happy with that little lineup snafu thing pregame.
9) Going back to the wide-open early going. I am sure that Torts doesn’t like the trading chances, but the Rangers created more than they had the last few games. Maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world for them to play a game like this. Better to watch than that slop vs. Pittsburgh, too. By a lot.
10) The third line wasn’t bad, either, shutting down (Torts’ boy) Vinny Lecavalier at even strength all night. Jeff Halpern and Brian Boyle get some credit there, blocked some shots, too. I also liked that Brad Richards was taken off for Halpern for some D-zone faceoffs.
11) A couple of days old, but I still can’t believe—after watching the replay a few times—that Evgeni Malkin got away with that hatchet-job on the top of the head of a guy who had a concussion last year, Marc Staal. Brendan Shanahan finally did his job yesterday with the John Erskine suspension. It’s always easier when a scrub player does it to a good player (Wayne Simmonds this time). But the great player can do whatever the hell he wants, apparently.
12) We will have our own little Super Bowl party here tonight, with a special edition “It’s Go Time!” … so somebody bring the Buffalo Baby Buffalo chicken wings and the little hot dogs.
13) Hey, they forgot to take a too-many-men penalty.
Dc62’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. Derek Stepan…his most consistent game in a long time.
2. Rick Nash- dominant performance.
3. Carl Hagelin- speed with a purpose.
Your poll votes for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Martin Biron (24.74 %).
2. tie, Carl Hagelin (20.96 %).
2. tie, Derek Stepan (20.96 %).
Top photo, and Biron by Getty Images.
Hagelin, Nash and Tortorella by the Associated Press.