NEW YORK RANGERS
Battle for the Eastern Conference
New York vs. Boston
Game One of Four
FINAL - O.T.
NEW YORK RANGERS 3
BOSTON BRUINS 2
In the First Battle for Conference Supremacy, the Blueshirts Turned Out to be One Mistake and 3.6 Seconds Better Than Boston.
I had a Giants' Championship Game to deal with. So let's pick up where we last left off shall we? Back in Boston....
Over the weekend in Boston, the Blueshirts and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins exchanged the first volleys in the long awaited Eastern Conference Battle for Supremacy. Both teams entered this first of four engagements leading their respective divisions after a half season of play and separated in the Conference standings by a mere point.
Once they dropped the puck, things went as well as you'd expect. Boston opened the game with a furious attack. But the Rangers stood their ground and settled things down considerably there-after. The teams finished the first period scoreless as if feeling each other out like prize fighters. Then in the second period came the body blows. The Captain; Ryan Callahan; struck first. But the Bruins countered. The Rangers struck a second time on Marian Gaborik's goal. And the Bruins countered again for a 2-2 tie. They'd finish regulation time after a scoreless third period still tied at two apiece.
It went like that. And why wouldn't it? The teams are number one and two in the Conference. And quite frankly that's the way the game should have went. Only difference being Ranger Fans are the ones used to their team playing catch-up. But that wasn't the case on this afternoon. Not this team; or not this edition Blueshirts I should say. As a matter of fact, these guys demonstrated several breaks with the past last Saturday.
A certain Boston player has been becoming quite the popular skater lately, who's not so popular hip-checks have been causing a stir around the League. But on this afternoon, it was the Rangers who laid the big hip check. It was the Rangers who still lead the NHL in fighting-majors and took a little time out to give Boston (#2 in fighting majors) a taste. It was the Rangers who also kept upping the score in that second period. And it was the Rangers who popped off Boston goalie, Tuukka Rask's mask as he attempted a save of a slap shot with his face. Yeah! It was like that; like Rockem' Sockem' Robots in Ice and we were the Blue guy.
As in black and blue - Before they went into overtime, the image I was taking away from this game was of Brandon Prust heading into the hallway and collapsing in pain after blocking a shot. Then a short time later, he could be seen right there next to Ryan Callahan celebrating his Captain's, and the Rangers' first goal of the night. To me that symbolized what this team is all about; camaraderie; resiliency, and a willingness to ignore pain and compete.
As far as the game though, no one was budging. Teams number one and two in the Conference were playing up to their billings. And the way both teams were going, overtime seemed unlikely to change anything. Shoot-out seemed like a sure bet. Until..., - like in any evenly matched and expertly fought bout where mistakes are kept to a minimum, in this case, the team which makes the first or biggest mistake, loses.
For future reference, the name of Andrew Ference will be remembered, and no doubt made to answer for a vicious hit-from-behind boarding offense he committed against Ryan McDonagh, which kept the Rangers' defenseman down for several minutes before being able to regroup himself and leave the ice. Perhaps that was a mistake in judgement, but for Boston, it proved to be the biggest mistake of the game. The penalty; a five minute major; put the Rangers on the power play for nearly the entire five minute overtime. And Boston nearly killed it off.
But just when this game looked like it was headed for a shoot-out, Marian Gaborik said, No! The Rangers' leading goal scorer netted his second of the game for the win. Avoiding shoot-outs is also another aspect of the past seemingly being phased out of the Rangers' plans these days. One of the biggest differences in the Rangers this year from last is their increasing ability to put teams away.
This game took 3.6 second shy of a full overtime period to win. But this was Boston. So give them their due, and their point. They earned it. The Rangers didn't quite put them away in regulation, but a) - this was more exciting, wasn't it? - and b) - we still earned our two more points.
I'll be in MSG Tuesday night to thank Gaborik and the Rangers for going to Boston and passing yet another big in-season test with my cheering and loud support. We have sixty-four points now and counting. The next competitor to enter Madison Square Garden will be the Winnipeg Jets. We welcome all comers. May the better team win. Before then however...,
Three cheers for the Blueshirts' upon their triumphant return home from Boston!
Let's Go Rangers!