Thursday, December 22, 2011

N.Y. Rangers ~ Islanders; The Rivalry, Part III



New York Islanders

33rd Street
Between 7th and 8th Avenue

NEW YORK RANGERS:  Blueshirts Pound Martin Brodeur and Dent the Crossbar a Few Times for Good Measure.

Wednesday Final:
4  -  Rangers
1  -  Devils

The latest joust between Martin Brodeur against Henrik Lundqvist went to the Swede.  On the Rangers' last stop before returning home, the King led his men through Newark and defeated the Devils 4-1 at the Rock. 

Henrik allowed the Devils to capture an early 1-0 lead in the opening period on Travis Zajac's first goal of the season.  And True Blue's liege faced more shots on goal than Brodeur faced.  But the one goal was all Henrik would allow.  Instead, the Rangers took over scoring duties while showing themselves to be quite the efficient ones, as they took ten less shots on goal during the game than New Jersey did.

A second period goal by Artem Anisimov tied the game at one.  Then the Rangers got busy.  After only eleven shots on goal over the first two periods, the Rangers dented the crossbar three times and blistered Brodeur with ten shots in the third.  Three of those found net.

Marian Gaborik; who just recently scored his 300th NHL goal; scored his eighteenth and nineteenth goals of the season.  Gaborik's two third period goals against the Devils now puts him in a multi-player tie for second in the league in goals.  The NHL leader; Steven Stamkos; has twenty as of this posting. 

And all hail rookie forward Carl Hagelin will ya!?  The kid scored his fourth goal since being called up from Connecticut.  His latest goal was of the shorthanded variety which at the time gave New York a 3-1 lead in the third period.  I guess the big club and being on NHL ice must really be to his liking because The Kid is flat out excelling, and is probably the main reason Sean Avery continues to sit.

And by the way...the Avery count is now up to four games as a healthy scratch. -  Coach's Call. 


What follows now are back-to-back home games against the Islanders Thursday, and the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday.  As I'm putting this post together, Philly is leading Dallas 3-1 in the 2nd period.  The Atlantic Division leaders, Philadelphia is skating towards their 46th points of the season.  Thursday night will be the Rangers chance to secure points forty-three and forty-four against the Islanders before second place New York, and the first place Flyers face off for the second time this season.  The last time these teams met at MSG, Henrik Lundvist pitched a 2-0 shut-out.

The Flyers will have Thursday off.  So if the Rangers play this right and beat the Islanders for a third time this season, Friday night's game against Philly affords the Blueshirts an opportunity to claim a share of first place. 

And make no mistake, to have played our way into this position heading into Christmas time is a big deal.  No, the significance is not in the Holiday.  The significance lies in the Rangers' sustained play on the ice in spite of injuries taking a toll on defense.  They're still managing to let the young talent on the ice keep things moving forward.  Having a game like they had against the Devils was a very nice way to finish a road trip in which initially, they got...tripped up.  A last second goal by Richards and a fairly dominating performance against the Devils showed the Rangers ability to spring back once again.

I like it.  It's another sign of a good team.

The New York Islanders?  What happened man?  This was supposed to be a young team getting better.  Last year everyone thought  they  took small strides towards that end.  This season they're suffering basically they same thing they suffered from last season.  They can't score.

Heading into Thursday night's game against the Rangers, the Islanders are fresh off a 3-2 shoot-out victory over Winnipeg.  Prior to that, they were losers of four straight.  Worse yet, last week Brian Rolston joined the ever growing list of players sustaining concussions.

Evgeni Nabokov and Al Montoya split time in net against Winnipeg.  So who knows who'll be in the pipes against the Rangers.  I think Nabokov is hurt again; who knows.  Rick DiPietro?  You guess it; injured.  The Islanders even called up Kevin Poulin this season.  That's at least four goalies I know of they've placed between the pipes this season.  Just give the job to Montoya will ya?



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