1) Well, that was a pretty good start. Maybe the Flyers were thrown off by that rouse-’em-up battle song, “Oh you look so beautiful tonight” they play when the teams enter the rink.
2) Seriously, I want to get to the Daniel Carcillo topic and all in a minute, but just gotta say, “don’t look now, but ya boys are 8-2-1 in 11 and 5-1-2 in the last eight at MSG, and actually have an actual winning record, you know, more wins than losses.” And I’ve been telling you what garbage the Lesstropolitan Division is, and you saw a team last night that had just gone on a tear. And that team’s not very good.
3) But the best news for the Rangers, more than the win(s) or the standings—the most important fact here for the bigger picture and the longer haul is that their best player and their most important skater are both figuring it out now. A lot of guys are hitting their strides at the same time, but most crucially, Henrik Lundqvist is starting to look like himself again and Rick Nash is starting to be a force again.
4) Hey, the Rangers never beat the Flyers because of an advantage in goal, right? And while the Flyers have some forwards I’d take in a heartbeat—Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux, probably, still, Vinny Lecavalier, their forwards 1-12 are probably not as good as the Rangers’ forwards. And their D 1-6 aren’t even close. Seriously, would you trade the Rangers’ D for the Flyers’? I always liked Braydon Coburn, but that was as bad as I’ve ever seen him play.
5) And before I forget, all six Rangers’ D-men played pretty solid games, even the third pair (Michael Del Zotto’s been a lot better lately, and John Moore not only played strong, but you gotta love it when that kid throws hands) but in all the early scoring and the goaltending, and with all the extra-curricular stuff, don’t lose site of something that’s a trend: Dan Girardi and Ryan McMonster once again threw a blanket over an opponent’s No. 1 line. Obliterated the Giroux line. After doing same to Tyler Seguin and Co. the other night, and taking care of the likes of Ovechkin and Crosby and Tavares so many times this season and seasons past.
6) The daily Nash-O-Meter is now pointing upward. Four goals in four games. Could have had a couple more. Hit a crossbar. Had a break. Imagine if his line could get it going on the power play the way Derick Brassard’s line has.
7) This might have been Brassard’s best game of the season. Just dynamic. Chris Kreider, too. Both were involved physically. Kreider ran over several Flyers, had a PPG and a primary assist. Drew a penalty—the kid’s gotta learn to stay down when he gets boarded, and should have learned that when Fedor Tyutin did it last week and Kreider got a major and a game misconduct for the same hit he absorbed last night. Back to Brassard … nobody ever said he doesn’t have skill. He sure does. When he plays like that, his ceiling goes higher.
8) Daniel Carcillo. The guy has some sideshow in him. He was yappy all game long, and he didn’t back down (not a shocker), and even if he was 0-1 in his one official fight, and even if you could argue that maybe with a nice lead you should turn away, hey, that’s an ingredient the Rangers haven’t had nearly enough of this season. He made a great play on the 1-0 tone-setting goal, scaring Mark Streit into coughing up the puck and tucking it behind Ray Emery. He had one second-period shift after his fight and made a really good defensive play. And post-game he shot his mouth off a little bit about how Simmonds won’t fight him—Carcillo and Simmonds went nose-to-nose when Carcillo was on the bench, and after Simmonds roughed up Brassard from behind in a scrum—and how he’s asked him 50 times. Listen to the audio.
9) This was one terribly officiated game. Again. Both sides. Not sure at all how the fourth goal was wiped out by a delayed penalty against the Flyers. Rangers have to be traling 7-1 or 8-1 or worse in goal/no goal, quick/slow whistle, penalty shot/no penalty shot calls this season. The goal Cam Talbot allowed to Nazem Kadri was about three seconds later in terms of being blown dead than that one. And no call on the Benoit Pouliot breakaway? Just wow.
11) Now, about those Flyers. It’s great to have size, but the Flyers sure have some big useless guys. And of course, they get behind and they start the stupidity. At the end of these games, Scott Hartnell always manages some cheap-shot, and his sucker punch on Carcillo started a melee. And of course, Hartnell doesn’t end up fighting Carcillo. He seeks out Dominic Moore. Then Brayden Schenn started with John Moore and got pounded, then landed a bunch of noogies, and finished it off with an eye-gouge that should get the attention of Brendan Shanahan’s office today. That’s also often going to be the downside of Carcillo’s act. Linesmen keep an eye on him, and so he gets carted off and his teammates have to clean up the mess. But, again, he’s a weapon the Rangers didn’t have, and need.
12) Back to the main topic. Count how many Rangers players in last night’s game are all of a sudden playing very well. Nash, Lundqvist, Brassard, Zuccarello, Pouliot, Kreider, Hagelin, all six D (again, McDonagh is just sensational). I think Richards has been good lately. I think Callahan and Stepan are getting there, but not all the way there yet. The fourth line has been good for a while, since before Derek Dorsett’s injury. The Rangers have scored three or more in five straight games, which should be enough, and in this case could have been a lot more. That’s why I picked them to finish second in the Lesstropolitan. I still think they will.
13) Wonder if Talbot starts against the Lightnings Tuesday or the Red Wings Thursday.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Derick Brassard.
2. Henrik Lundqvist.
3. Chris Kreider.
Kenny Albert’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. Henrik Lundqvist.
2. Rick Nash.
3. Daniel Carcillo.
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Henrik Lundqvist.
2. Rick Nash.
3. Daniel Carcillo.
Photos by Getty Images.