The National Hockey League's
The National Hockey League's
January 2, 2012
NEW YORK RANGERS
NEW YORK RANGERS: From Off-Broadway to the National Stage; It's Time for the Blueshirts to Shine.
The Power Play was 0-3 over the first two periods during a 3-1 deficit and 0-5 overall in a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals. And somewhere along the way in another post, I said you really can't appreciate how bad the Blueshirt power play is until you see it in person. Sheesh!
They had just come off one of their unsuccessful power play opportunities when Washington launched a bomb from the left circle. Captain Callahan cleverly stuck his ankle in the way and deflected the puck Brandon Dubinsky's way, who dashed off to score the game tying goal with a little over two minutes left in the first period. And for another moment in the second period, it looked like last Wednesday's game was turning into the Brandon Dubinsky Show when he almost cashed in on another hot rush towards net. We know Dubinsky is working hard and still playing well. The goals will come eventually. And if they come in bunches down the stretch, even better for us. For now, good teams back each other up in times like these.
Then a series of amateurishly bad plays against the Capitals doomed the Rangers. Michael Del Zotto, John Mitchel, and Brad Richards were all guilty of very costly mistakes which opened the door to Wednesday's disappointing loss and snapping their latest five game winning streak.
But the Rangers rebounded Friday by showing another attribute of a good hockey club; an ability to correct mistakes and win the next game out. That's precisely why the Rangers haven't gone longer than three games without a win this season. And they corrected themselves against a good team; the Southern Division leaders. The Florida Panthers are the fourth ranked team in the Conference. So after the loss to Washington, beating Florida was a very good sign indeed. There is a sense Dubinsky may be awakening from his scoring slumber after scoring his third of the season and Del Zotto bounced back against Florida and had a very strong game.
Here's another mark of a good team - A good team sticks up for each other. Friday night Del Zotto took a sucker punch with 7 seconds left in the game. Mike Rupp stepped in, peeled off Del Zotto's assailant and proceeded to pummel him, with no real objection by Florida team mates. Coach Torts backed up his forward's retaliation when after the game, among other things he said,
"YOU DON"T SUCKER PUNCH ANOTHER PLAY. HE GOT WHAT HE DESERVED!"
This may be the absolute wrong time then to remind everyone how Dan Girardi just stood around and watched Marian Gaborik get beat up. Anyone remember that? Girardi was younger and still unsure of himself. But even he is throwing his body around a little more these days. My point is merely to say, these Rangers aren't the Rangers of that forgettable day Girardi just stood and watched. Rupp showed the Panthers what happens now-a-days. Brandon Prust is always showing what the League can expect from the Rangers also. These aren't the Rangers of even this time last year, or even the Rangers of two months ago. The Rangers prior to October 31st looked eerily similar to the frustrating Rangers of the past.
You can fast-forward now and hit play. The Rangers hit fifty points before January. Heading into this afternoon's Winter Classic, their fifty points remain number one in the Eastern Conference, and only two shy of the NHL leading Chicago Blackhawks.
This is the third meeting between the Flyers and Rangers. The first two games were played at Madison Square Garden where the Rangers defeated Philly on November 26th in a 2-0 Henrik Lundqvist shut-out. There second meeting just prior to Christmas resulted in a 4-2 Ranger win, but it wasn't even that close. The Classic will be the first game in Philly in what amounts to a neutral site game for both teams.
Philly remains only two points behind the Rangers for the Atlantic Division lead. So this game is in effect a battle for first place. In Philly's case, they're trying to regain a share of the lead. And in the Rangers' case, they're trying to widen their lead.
I hope the weather suddenly gets frosty in time for the game. I'd like to have some good ice for what should be a great game.
Let's go Rangers!