From the desk of: RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS
NEW YORK RANGERS: Zoom Past The Winnipeg Jets.
Not so fast. For me personally, this game lacked speed; not to be confused with effort though. From Section 417, it just seemed like both teams were skating rather slowly. The dude next to me concurred.
The Jets have been on the road for most of the month and were playing their third game in four days. I can see them slowing down. But the Rangers have been off the last two days. Their compressed portion of this month's schedule started to lighten up after the 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh.
Call it post-Boston slowdown; or playing down to the competition; or just dying to get the mid-season break started, but who am I to complain because the effort still seemed to be more than enough for points number sixty-five and sixty-six on the season. I know teams have night's like this. And I do kind of believe in the Boston decompression factor.
Even though the Rangers won this game rather handily, if I were Coach, I'd still have something to say. I coached little league for ten years, and I always like to rag my team most when they were playing well. With most of the Blueshirts; minus Henrik, Girardi, and Gaborik; getting the next six days off so to speak as the NHL takes an All-Star break, I'd like to leave my players with something else to think about other than feeling good about themselves for the better part of a week. After winning their last two games to rebound from that 4-1 Penguins loss, it's also probably the last thing the players want to hear after spending the first half of the season putting their bodies in front of so many pucks and playing to a 6-5 record in January. Gotta rub some snow on those bruises Boys, because tough love sucks. As Coach will tell ya, Only the Strong Survive.
I know this sounds a little petty considering Henrik Lundqvist only faced twenty-two shots, and looked brilliant again stopping every attempt for his fifth shut-out of the season. Although to Winnipeg's credit, they did pour it on somewhat in the third period. But to no avail. It was The King's 40th shut-out of his reign and an overall good defensive effort from all the King's Men.
After creating some nifty goal scoring opportunities in the first period, John Mitchell finally cashed in on one of those chances with a second period goal; his fifth; to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Ryan Callahan got things started in the right direction for the Blueshirts scoring a clean-up goal in the first. Brad 'the hat' Richards capped things off in the third period with his sixteenth goal of the season; assisted by Captain Callahan.
In one of the oddities of the night, Mike Rupp seemed to be begging for a beating from a reluctant Chris Thorburn. And he got one; twice. The first of two fights, at least from Sec.417 looked strange as Rupp hesitated? - and appeared to have ended with Rupp headed head first into the ice. The scoreboard cleared things up for me. But not liking the way that round ended, The Rupper wanted more and got it during the second period. Rupp did land a haymaker or two, but otherwise his plans were a total fail.
None the less, here we are. Even thought we are beyond the midway point of the season, we enter the official break first in the Eastern Conference with sixty-six points and trail only Detroit by a point for the overall NHL lead.
Looking ahead to the second half, the Rangers' schedule will get a lot more New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins intensive. Along with the more division games remaining against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the Rangers can also look forward to meeting up with the NHL's leading team; the Detroit Red Wings; and the Chicago Blackhawks.
There's much to discuss over the break. Tune in.