1) I really would have felt sorry for the Rangers if they had lost this game and had to go home to what is supposed to be a celebration of the renovated arena and all, only to be greeted by an angry home crowd.
2) I also don’t believe, had they lost this game, that all was lost. I know, ultimately it’s a results-driven business, but the Rangers needed to be a lot better, and for a lot of the Rangers to be a lot better, and in this game, win or lose, a lot of them were a lot better, right from the start, too. Ya gtta start playing better before things turn. It’s not accepting a good effort over a win. It’s that it’s a necessary step toward winning. If they play like this they will win their share. This was their best game of the season.
3) I kinda wish that the three guys who scored hadn’t scored, because I often scold or mock those who simply think “He scored, he’s great; he didn’t score, he stinks.” But I was typing throughout this game about how many players looked as if something had clicked in their heads, and three of those I about whom I was typing scored.
4) So the trip ends 3-6, which is not good by any stretch, with just 15 goals in the nine games, and all with some very, very, very legitimate reasons/excuses … though nobody better use them as such. And, honestly, nobody did. But 3-6 with a win at the end is a lot better than 2-7 with three straight losses. No?
5) Now some good news: 41 of the next 73 games are at home, including nine of the next 12, and then 11 of 12 from Nov. 30 through Dec. 23 (Festivus). Some potentially bad news: Opening nights are difficult at best; and first game back from a long trip is traditionally difficult, at best.
6) Cam Talbot. The kid was really strong early, especially on those PPs. Jimmy Howard was fairly amazing throughout. Obviously, that’s a huge win for the rookie goalkeep. No. 1 and a Broadway Borsalino to boot. Meanwhile Henrik Lundqvist is pushing for Monday. I wouldn’t rush him, or let him rush himself, back.
7) OK, so this is what I wrote before I knew the result: There were more than a few guys who I saw moving their feet and going to the net and working a forecheck much better in this game, and that includes Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard and Benoit Pouliot. Seriously, two of those guys drew penalties, one had a brekaway. Zuccarello and Pouliot scored goals and had other chances. (Then Brassard got his second breakaway and scored the GWG, thus avoiding the dreaded Breakaway Contest After the Hockey Game Ends and the Bettman Bonus Point for losing).
8) That said, Zuccarello commited a dumb turnover inside the blue line that led to the 1-0 goal. I don’t fully blame him, though. Got to be a little confusing when the coach wants guys to try to make plays instead of playing safe. Sometimes there are going to be bad decisions. That was one. I think you have to live with it.
9) I liked the way Marc Staal played the resulting 2-on-1. Instead of the typical Rangers D-man snow angel and failure to block the pass, he took away the pass by staying on his feet. That left the puck-carrier to the goalie, and Talbot simply got beaten short-side. Again, it happens. Maybe if Talbot knew Staal would play it that way he wouldn’t have been off the post? Who knows?
10) Going back to the point about moving feet, how good was the Derek Dorsett-Brian Boyle-Taylor Pyatt line? Tons of chances, loads of forecheck. Pyatt can’t take that penalty, though. Potentially crushing. And on the PPG at the end of the second, Dan Girardi’s got to do a better job moving that guy out of Talbot’s grill.
11) The first Pouliot penalty=Pansification. The Rangers have been good on the PK. which is good news for Pouliot, who seems to prefer the bench in the penalty box.
12) Brad Richards on the point. And I know he’s scored some goals, and to some of you guys that’s all that measures how a player is playing, but geez, the guy has made some dreadful plays at the blue line and in the defensive zone. And especially on the PP. Of course, the Rangers scored their PPG, by Pouliot, with Ryan McDonagh and John Moore on the points.
13) I think you’re gonna like having Detroit in the East. I am.
14) Wow. Under 4:00 left in a 2-2 game, team desperate for a win or a point, and live action is lost to commercials, one of them, ironically, an Optimum ad! Holy shishkebob. Sam Rosen explained it wasn’t the fault of the televising networks; that somebody forgot to turn on the red light that notifies officials that it’s a TV timeout. So play resumed. Then, next stoppage came the TV timeout. And, only one question in Alain Vigneault’s press conference on the post-game? While they’re doing extensive Devils, Islanders, Buffalo yapping? Really?
15) Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller. Both of them looked very comfortable in this game. Miller, like Pyatt and Pouliot, took a bad penalty. But the two kids looked like they belong and added a lot of energy and effective play in both ends. That’s as well as I’ve seen Kreider play, and that includes when he was Boy Wonder during the ‘12 playoffs. Wonder if they’re both here to stay? Wonder what happens when Carl Hagelin comes back Tuesday and Ryan Callahan comes back in another couple of weeks? Me? I’m giving them a long, long leash and a chance to stay permanently.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Cam Talbot.
2. Benoit Pouliot.
3. Marc Staal.
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Cam Talbot.
2. Benoit Pouliot.
3. Chris Kreider.
Photos by Leon Halip/Getty Images.