I’m not going to go nutso about the shootout today, because I’ve done it to death … and will do it again later on, no doubt, about how stupid it is that the playoff fate of teams, not to mention the jobs of GMs, coaches and players are decided in such a nonsensical contest …
Because this one had a different feel, an extreme level of desperation. That point gained meant everything to the Rangers, and that point, if not gained, could have been disastrous given the previous game on Monday against the Leafs, and given that the Rangers coughed up a third-period lead.
1) “It’s humongous,” said Ryan McDonagh. “It’s a totally different atmosphere in here for us if we don’t get that. You could kind of sense that it was a little different type of shootout this time around.” You can see my game story around that quote here.
2) Mats Zuccarello. Good for him. The guy’s been a much better player this time around than the one the Rangers let walk away after last season … but he hadn’t scored. John Tortorella even brought it up before the game, that he had failed in his specialty, the shootout, last time he had a chance. But that goal he scored this time … he showed so much patience to wait for James Reimer to open up. Wow. I really wonder if they will re-sign him.
3) Henrik Lundqvist. The guy was left on an island by his teammates in Toronto. He had been great against Winnipeg and Pittsburgh (twice) and at his best in Carolina, getting the Rangers two points they didn’t deserve, and now he has won this critical shootout with two great saves and a move to force another chance to go wide. The Rangers are 4-1-1 in six, and he is why.
4) Brad Richards. Oof. It’s tough to watch as he struggles to skate, to stay on his feet, as he spins from hits and throws the puck away. Ironically, his blind drop pass to nobody led to the momentum swing, because it led to Michael Del Zotto’s penalty, which led to a good kill that got the Garden cheering, and a momentum swing. But Richards, man. At least when we saw Chris Drury decline this quickly, he would win a draw, kill a penalty, block a shot or take a hit to move the puck.
5) They were promoting the Steven McDonald Extra Effort award at MSG last night and, well, let’s just say there probably aren’t going to be as many candidates as there were last year.
6) Carl Hagelin finally scored. This guy’s really important to the Rangers, because he adds so much to the forecheck and he backs off defensemen. His goal had nothing to do with speed, but he needs to pop one once in a while, too. His first in 11 was huge.
7) McMonster nearly separated his shoulder celebrating his goal (see photo). Nice Brian Leetch-like move. McDonagh and Girardi are better together than separated. (and IMO better together than Girardi and Marc Staal). But to put them back together with Staal still out put more on the other guys, and I thought Steve Eminger and Anton Stralman both stepped up.
8) Girardi gets a pass for that fumbled puck at the blue line, at least from me, at least until I see a better replay. Garden ice, third period, etc. I thought he was much better too – couldn’t have been much worse than he was Monday. Ditto Michael Del Zotto.
9) The MSG video board was showing a thing about the GAG Line, which prompted a couple of sarcastic remarks in the pressbox (that’s what we do during games, you know). First, “Goal-a-game? That’s what the Rangers get. They’re a GAG Team.” Second, “If Torts was coaching in 1971-72, how many games would the GAG Line have played together before he broke them up?”
11) Islanders vs Boston tonight. I imagine you’re big Bruins fans, right?
12) Don’t know how much effect the Ryane Clowe fight had on turning the game around, but it’s probably more than coincidence that it came right after Phil Kessel’s first goal, and that the Rangers got better eventually, though certainly not immediately.
13) I heard that Dave Maloney, Brian Leetch and Al Trautwig had a good laugh at my expence for my face time on MSG Network during the media lockerroom scrum around Hagelin, huh? Does anybody have a link? I don’t want to exact revenge without seeing it first (just kidding, I could never be mad at any of those guys).
14) Looking still like a Live Chat Friday at noon, which should be interesting timing heading into the Island, where I hope to not get my car totaled and cheat death again. I will promote it as we go, on here and via twitter. Oh, and check out the new toy on this blog: Photo galleries (in the thread below).
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Henrik Lundqvist.
2. Ryan McDonagh.
3. Carl Hagelin.
RangerJHW’s Three Rangers Stars:
Mrs. Gibson: (see’s Ralph’s suitcase) “What is that, your lunch box?”
1. Henrik-again. Some incredible saves.
3. Boyle-hoping a star will get ya going!
HM-me…for quoting Mrs. Gibson instead of mentioning Brad Richards’ play in general and blind passes in particular!
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Henrik Lundqvist (25.81%).
2. Mats Zuccarello (19.35%).
3. Carl Hagelin (17.2%).
Photos by Getty Images.