Before we look back at last night’s mayhem, remember we will have a Live Chat right here at noon today. Should be some interesting discussion given what happened and how it happened last night. Be there. Or else.
1) I haven’t had the opportunity to say this in a long time, but this game is an exception to even the general stupidity of the shootout? Yeah, the fans love it, right commissioner? Ask all those Boston fans if they loved it as they were filing out with what would have been an all-timer of a tie instead leaving with a loss; and the Rangers get a win in a game they coughed up like a hairball. All because of a contest that has nothing to do with hockey, after two teams played 65 minutes of high-stakes hockey. And so many Bettman Bonus Points for losing are being handed out this year, a 48-game season that’s one-quarter done, those stupid Losers’ Points are going to decide playoff berths. What a freakin’ joke.
2) I don’t know if I should go with the idea that the Rangers won their third in a row, beating one of the real Beasts of the East (for a second time), and on how many guys did so many good things … or if I should go with the crash at the end.
3) Well, last things first (I mean, last in terms of the actual hockey game; I’m not going to talk about the Breakaway Contest After The Hockey Game Ends—BCATHGE other than to say about the Rick Nash goal: Wow) … I thought for about six or seven of the last 12 minutes the Rangers were defending the lead in textbook fashion.Then they didn’t. They got a little too happy with the dump-it-out idea too early, IMO.
4) Having said that, the third Boston goal was a really lucky carom off Ryan Callahan’s skate that went directly to the only guy who could have scored right there, and if that doesn’t happen, the Rangers win 3-2 in regulation and we’re all talking about the parade route today.
5) Rick Nash. The guy did some amazing things with the puck in the first 65 minutes, too. That first goal he set up, by Carl Hagelin, was nuts, and even though he had an empty half a net, Hagelin put it up top with some mustard on it just in case Tuukka Rask got across somehow. Hagelin’s had a bunch of really good games in a row now, and looks like he could make a career out of being Nash’s sidekick. And Derek Stepan is just fine there between them, too. That, unfortunately for the Rangers in some ways, is now the No. 1 line.
6) Stepan’s goal was exactly why the Rangers’ coaches want him to shoot the puck more, and why they think he can be a top-two center. And why the Rangers won’t trade him for Dustin Byfuglien, as some suggested yesterday.
7) Oh, back to Nash. He is ridiculous with the puck and he’s been very good without it. He hit a post, probably could have scored a couple. I loved the fact that he went back at Milan Lucic after that high hit. But I didn’t love the fact that he took a hooking penalty there, which cost the Rangers a goal. And he also had a bad turnover later. And, still, he was one of the best players in the game. Lots of people found it ironic that he scored that beauty of a goal just about the time Howser Howson got fired in Columbus … about a year too late. If Howson had to trade Nash, he should have done it at the deadline when he could have had an extra first-rounder in June, and the Rangers could have had Nash for the playoffs. And the question remains, how was Howson allowed to trade Nash on his way out the door himself?
8) I thought it was a very tough first period for J.T. Miller. The teenager actually had a tough night in a tough place against a tough team. I thought he got better later in the game, though. Not sure which way he’s going to go here.
9) Henrik Lundqvist protected the lead during a scrambly start to the second period that included another woeful too-many-men penalty, and made two (at least) big saves (and got help from a good defensive play by Nash) before Stepan made it 2-0. Then he made the enormous short-handed save on Patrice Bergeron after Dan Girardi’s cough-up at the PP point.
11) That said, I thought Marc Staal was too aggressive on the goal immediately at the end of the Boston power play, leaving—once again—two Bruins open behind him, and he went to his knees instead of taking his man on the second goal. Too bad, because he had a pretty good game otherwise, too.
12) The Rangers had an entire intermission to draw up a 5-on-3 and that’s what they came up with? And on the 5-on-4, I really think Richards is bad at the point. Then when he has to play defense, it’s frightening. He almost got Marian Gaborik killed by Lucic on the 5-on-4 after the 5-on-3 ended. Richards just hasn’t been close to himself yet this season, especially on the point, IMO.
13) Fitting that the winner came off the stick of Ryan Callahan, isn’t it always? The problem of playing Callahan with the kids, Miller and Chris Kreider, is when the coach takes the kids out of the rotation in the third period, he risks losing Callahan. And now John Tortorella is going to have to make some decisions about Miller and Kreider. I think they’ve added enough to certainly get more time in the lineup, and what makes me say that is I just remember how sloth-like the four lines looked before those two got uniforms. I think they need to stay in. And while Arron Asham is growing on me as a player, I think Brian Boyle is better than four players who were in the lineup in Boston, and I do NOT mean Miller and Kreider.
14) That’s a damn good team up there in Boston. The Rangers are done with them. Two wins (though Boston got a Bettman Bonus Point in each).
15) Unrelated, can anybody answer this? When there’s a staged fight, the linesmen back away and let them fight on and on and on and on. Yet when there’s a legit hockey fight, like Kris Versteeg going after Alex Ovechkin for an earlier cheapshot, the linesmen don’t allow Ovechkin and Versteeg to fight at all? Even though they both wanted to go. WTB?
16) Too many men. Sick of that yet? How about failed 5-on-3?
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Rick Nash.
2. Carl Hagelin.
3. Derek Stepan.
TSwift’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. Henrik Lundqvist – Great in the 1st and probably his best period of the season in the 2nd. 2/3 goals in the 3rd he didn’t have a chance.
2. Rick Nash – The pass on the first goal, and the move in the shootout should be enough, but he was also pretty good in his own end.
3. Derek Stepan – Playing with Nash’s talent and Hagelin’s speed has been great for him and now he’s finishing his chances.
Your poll votes for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Rick Nash (23.64 %).
2. Henrik Lundqvist (20.45 %).
3. Ryan Callahan (15.45 %).
Lucic/Nash photo and Hagelin celebration at bench by Getty Images; Nash goal, Hagelin goal, and Lundqvist photos by The Associated Press.