NEW YORK RANGERS: Blueshirts Mount a CLASSIC Comeback Win and Tie for the NHL Lead in Points.
With the slow, steady, methodical movement and power of a glacier, the New York Rangers continue to carve a path towards the top spot in the NHL. To many Blueshirts players, Mike Rupp may lovingly seem as old as a glacier. But there was a lesson to be learned from the old veteran. Rupp brought calmness during a 2-0 deficit and settled a bunch of jittery youngsters and bouncing pucks to lead the Blueshirts through a truly Classic Winter game in the windy outdoors of Philadelphia.
But it was The King whom made all Mike Rupp's efforts, and Coach Tortorella's strategy and adjustments possible. Henrik Lundqvist provided his team time to regroup and readjust. But above all, he reigned over this Classic and made it his own showcase. Sure the Flyers scored the initial two goals of the game. But King Henrik taketh as well as giveth. Lest we forget, this Philly team is one in which our liege readily admitted, he's doesn't like very well. And since he doesn't like them much, he said enjoys playing them. He must have had had a ball then late Monday afternoon. With his generosity all but exhausted, he closed down the net for good by 14:21 of the second period. He decided Philly had had enough. And to hammer his dislike of them home, he stonewalled Philly on a penalty shot awarded to Daniel Briere off a Ryan McDonagh penalty to save the regulation time win.
And you can add Mike Rupp as another valid reason why Sean Avery rightfully will never play a game for the Rangers ever again. That's neither here nor there anymore. Mike Rupp is here today to use his big body, peel off and pummel would be threats to his team mates, and to settle down the guys in a big game whom aren't necessarily experienced in big moments and how to sieze them. Because after all Ranger fans, this is still a rebuilding team and still learning much in the ways of their craft.
Maybe this Ranger team is just young enough and nieve enough not to realize what it is they are currently accomplishing. But one thing they are plenty aware of mostly because Coach Torts demands it, is in this NHL Classic Showcase of the Season, the New York Rangers showed the Nation they are the hardest working team in hockey. And their coach showed he knows a thing or two about the game also. While Coach Torts was being the better tactician in a game of chess with Peter Loviolette, his Boys took care of the rest.
Karma has a way of creeping into conversations when players score their first NHL goal against you, especially when you can least afford a new opposing hero to materialize out of nowhere. That's just what Philly's Braden Schenn did at 12:26 of the second period to give the Flyers the first goal of the game. Philly momentum resulted in a second Flyer goal two minutes later when Claude Giroux scored his 18th goal of the season for what was at the moment, a quick striking Ranger stunner that put them down 2-0 with five and a half minutes to go in the second period.
That's when the Rangers took a collective deep breath and decided to make a slow climb back into this game. It was also the moment Henrik Lundqvist decided to go from being great, to perfect the rest of the way. He needed to be miraculaous at times, but he kept his ground.
After going down by one goal, then by two, Mike Rupp stepped up to be the latest Blueshirt hero on a day when others seemed at a loss how. In the two previous meetings between these teams, the Rangers defeated the Flyers handily. But in this game, Philadelphia presented the Rangers with an entirely different effort. But Coach Torts got the lines figured out while Henrik kept the Rangers hanging around. And with well over twenty minutes of hockey left in this game, all three men knew there was planty of time to turn this around.
Mike Rupp answered Claude Giroux's second period goal thirty seconds later in what turned out to be a goal that changed the whole Rangers outlook. It kept the game within one goal headed into the third period. And these days, the Rangers no longer treat the third period like a basket of eggs anymore.
Enter Mike Rupp again. Early, at 2:41of the third period, he led his line of Brandon Prust and John Mitchel and made them factor in this game a second time. This time his linemates set up Rupp for a shot off the left circle that found net for his second goal of the game and more importantly, the game tying score.
And then, ...then the free agent import stepped up like he hasn't too often so far this season. Brad Richards followed Rupp's second goal by puting himself in the right position to clean up a rebound and slapped it home. It was the go ahead and game winning goal at 5:41 of the final period to complete the Ranger's comeback. Henrik Lundqvist took care of the rest by shutting Philly down the rest of the way.
And that's how they did it. That's how the Rangers mounted a comeback and won this year's NHL Winter Classic in grand fashion. And that's how they find themselves tied now with the Chicago Blackhawks for the most points in the NHL with fifty-two.