1) Martin Biron. Let’s talk about fairness here. Because it isn’t fair if every time this guy plays and the Rangers don’t win, that it’s his fault, or the fault of the decision to play him. He’s not going to go 8-0 or 10-0 or whatever. He’s 1-0-1. Three points in two starts. You can dice it any way you want, but he’s probably the best backup in the league, or at the very least, gives the Rangers the best tandem in the league.
2) And to take it a step further (or is it farther?). It’s incredibly unfair for the knowledgeable, sophisticated fans to be chanting “Henrik, Henrik” whenever he allows a goal or two. Ridiculous. Plus I thought he was really solid in the second half of regulation and OT, maybe got the Rangers their Bettman Bonus Point.
3) Carl Hagelin. His speed and work created the first goal. His speed and drive to the net and second effort scored the second. He was the Rangers’ best player, and has played – I’ve lost count how many – consecutive really good games, including the “dumbness” game. Makes you wonder, if he’d had this kind of confidence and game in the playoffs last year …
4) Also, I’ve said over and over, the Rangers’ depth was not going to be a problem if Hagelin and Chris Kreider could play top nine minutes, and one of them would have to play top six. And so far, Hagelin is holding up his end of that bargain after a bit of a slow start.
5) The BCATHGE (breakaway contest after the hockey game ends). I sure saw about 14,000 long faces leaving the Garden for some reason, despite what, in effect, was getting one point for a tie. Hmm. I thought fans loved the shootout, loved not having ties. I am not going to whine and gripe about this again, because it seems to offend some fans who were born since the 1990s. Bit it’s a stupid way to determine games, playoff seeds and ultimately jobs. The Rangers got their first Bettman Bonus Point (for a loss) this season. And they are 6-2-1 in their last nine. That’s a pretty good clip, regardless of how ugly it’s been.
6) That start: The Rangers gave the Islanders absolutely nothing until the Matt Martin breakaway almost 14 minutes in. Wasn’t just a fluke that the shots were 10-0. But they have to find a way to withstand the moments the game turns, because every game, even against a lost franchise like the Islanders, will turn at some point.
7) Brad Richards. I’m going to give him credit for two things. One, his play is not effort-related. Two, he knows he’s been bad and accepts the responsibility for it. And, I’ll even go to a third, he cares greatly and wants to help his team. That all said, I have no idea what’s wrong with him, if he’s not in good condition, if he was really set back by that flu he had during camp, if he’s just got some tired, heavy legs, or what. He said part of his power play struggle last night was from trying too hard, and I believe that.
8) That said, John Tortorella finally did the right thing and put him on the bench, and even more importantly, took him off the power play. I know the PP scored a goal – when a Gaborik dump-in hit an Islander and went to Hagelin in front, and Hagelin kicked it on goal, then got his stick on it and nudged it over the line, and video replay had to confirm it. The last power-play goal was a breakaway by J.T. Miller. Maybe it’s time to do a Billy Martin and just put five different guys out there, maybe go with whichever line and defense pair is due up next, and tell them to play it like 5-on-5. Why not?
9) Remember everybody saying Tortorella was trying to fix what wasn’t broken by putting Brian Boyle back into the lineup? Well, Boyle was pretty darn good. He needs to be better still. And now Tortorella has to find a way to get Chris Kreider back in and contributing, and decide if it’s best for Miller to stay here or go back to the AHL for a little while (because he will be back). The Rangers’ lineup is speedier and more dangerous if he can get them both playing well, and it sure looks slower, lacking depth, and bottom-heavy without them.
10) I just don’t know who comes out if they both are in. It’s not a simple answer.
11) Marian Gaborik did what he does. He scored a goal, had an assist. I didn’t think he was great in this game, but he sure wasn’t bad, and if that’s what he does and he pops one, you live with it.
12) I thought it was funny when those knowledgeable, sophisticated MSG fans began loudly chanting “Shoot the puck, shoot the puck” on that power play, and on a play where they didn’t actually shoot it, they scored the PPG.
13) Derek Stepan had another very strong game except for faceoffs. Oy. That he had to be replaced by Jeff Halpern on D-zone draws is troublesome. Even in OT. The Rangers won 44 and lost 32. Stepan, after an 0-for-6 start (I think it was that, might have been worse) finished 8-of-21. Halpern was 11-of-14, Boyle 9-of-16, Richards 9-of-17. The wingers won 7-of-8.
14) Does John Tavares actually turn invisible? Or is it possible that the one guy on that team who can actually kill you by himself really gets so open so often? Kid’s a beast.
15) I guess we’re going to see more and more of Marc Staal back with Dan Girardi, and Ryan McDonagh with Michael Del Zotto or Anton Stralman. Personally, I think Staal and Girardi are both better separated.
The real Kenny Albert’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. Carl Hagelin.
2. Marian Gaborik.
3. Jeff Halpern.
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Carl Hagelin (29.52 %).
2. Brian Boyle (14.29 %).
3. Marian Gaborik (11.43 %).
Photos by Getty Images.