Sunday, January 15, 2012

N.Y. Rangers ~ First Team to Sixty Points



Montreal Canadiens

The Great White North

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NEW YORK RANGERS:  Blueshirt Gain Measure of Revenge; Correct Past Losses To Maple Leafs With a 3-0 Shut-Out. 

Marty Biron Stops 20 Shots and Had One Assist.


28-10-4; 60 Points

National Hockey League

So how does a team respond after losing to an opponent who out-hit you; out-skated you; out-skilled you; and out-scored you by an 8-4 margin in two previous meetings against said team?  And before answering that, consider this opponent knocked out one of your prized young defensemen (Michael Sauer) with a concussion who's been missing considerable time as a result.

You can start with the best back-up goalie in Hockey continuing his superb play by shutting-out a good, and currently hot Toronto Maple Leafs team.  He faced twenty shots and stopped them all.  This was Marty Biron's second shut-out of the season, and the Rangers' fifth overall.  He is now 9-2 on the season.  Marty also accounted for an assist on Derek Stepan's third period goal.  Biron made a strong pass to mid-ice where Carl Hagelin then forwarded the puck to Derek Stepan who skated and held the puck with veteran-like patience, then faked Toronto goalie; Jonas Gustavsson; to score on a backhand and turn Saturday's contest into a 3-0 final.

The Rangers finished a scoreless first period on a power play that went for not.  They were 0-2 on the power play for the game while successfully killing off two Toronto man-advantages.

Veteran Michael Rupp played the role of steadying force again.  He was the one who got the Rangers started in the second period, just like he did in the Winter Classic.  The veteran took charge of his line and together they demonstrated a picture perfect three-man rush where-in they moved the puck with the rapid action of a pinball executing three marvelously crisp passes en route to a score.  Rupp's goal made the score 1-0 and was assisted by Derek Stepan and a returning Wojtek Wolski.

Then at 16:20 of the second period; Iron Man; Brian Boyle was finally rewarded for all the hard work he's put in this season with a goal assisted by his partner in grind Brandon Prust, and Ryan McDonagh. Boyle and Prust were relentless on the fore-check making Boyle's first goal in almost twenty games possible.  He paid a price a little later in the game though.  Deon Phaneuf caught Boyle at mid-ice with his head down and crunched him good.  It hasn't been lost on Ranger Fans that it was Phaneuf who laid the hit on Michael Sauer which has since kept him out of action with concussion symptoms.

So add this item to the list growing longer with every Rangers game regarding things good teams do:  Lets add being practiced at the art of revenge.  Toronto as I mentioned, hammered us in two prior games this season.  Answering back with a convincing 3-0 shut-out on Toronto's home ice was a great way to settle a score so to say.  And with this win over Toronto, the Rangers have pretty much settled all accounts on their schedule to date.

Even though Ottawa kind of took us to town the other night, it was still only a rubber game after two previous meetings in which both teams won a game each.  Toronto was the only foe which really stood out that handily turned the Blueshirts away this season.  Until Saturday this is. 

With the first half of the season officially complete, it can now be said with confidence the Rangers have stood up to all-comers the schedule makers put on the ice against them.  They've either struck first, exchanged body blows, or have counter-punched their way to redeeming themselves, as was the case against Toronto.

Before I end this installment, add yet another item to the list of things good teams do:  Exhibit Poise.  Like the poise Marty Biron exhibited stopping twenty shots in hostile territory knowing full well, the Rangers needed a good showing against the Leafs.  He provided his team with a shut-out.  And poise, like Derek Stepan exhibited on his delayed move against Jonas Gustavvson.  Many of these kids are acting and playing like they've done this before.  That's on Coach.

The Rangers list of things good teams do is growing longer indeed.  They keep adhering to the mandates of their Coach, and forever keep mindful the little things that need to get done in order for big things to happen.  The correction against the Maple Leafs has been chilled, shaken, and served, Toronto style.

The Rangers are only half way up the mountain.  Teams like Boston; Chicago; and Detroit loom ahead to test us.  But as of January 14th, the New York Rangers have achieved sixty points before any other team in the NHL this season.

Toast!  Here's to you Boys!  Shaken.  Not stirred.


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