From the desk of: RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS
NEW YORK RANGERS: Blueshirts Earn Points Number 100 and 101 on the Season. Accomplish Feat for Seventh Time in Their History.
You lose 4-1 against Buffalo at home and maybe think, what happened to Henrik? The answer is nothing. But he's had better weeks. However, if we're pointing fingers, blame the defense for a series of crippling brain cramps. Regardless, Henrik was brilliant at times against the Sabres. But Buffalo's goalie, Ryan Miller, was equally brilliant; if not a shade better this time, for the Rangers were 3-0 against Buffalo this season. That Ryan Miller had an insane night between the pipes should not go under spoken when talking about the Rangers deflating loss Friday night.
The MSG crowd; me included; were denied their chance to see the Rangers gain their 100th point of the season on home ice. And as far as how the Rangers did, over this now concluded seven game home stand, things could have gone better for the Rangers. By Friday night, the Rangers lead over Pittsburgh was down to one point. And so in hindsight, the Blueshirts missed a great opportunity to gain a little separation from Pittsburgh, as the Penguins were idle Friday night, and lost to Ottawa Saturday evening. So instead of having a four or five point lead with seven games left, the Rangers will settle for a three point margin.
Friday night, Buffalo got on the board first and had the Blueshirts playing catch-up the rest of the way. Truth is, once the Rangers attention to detail began to break down in the second period, they never stood a chance. After a slow first period, Buffalo stampeded. They were a far different team in the second and third periods of Friday's game than the group of the opening session.
Truth is, the Rangers had their share of opportunities to score in Friday's game; loads of 'em. And even though the first period ended tied at one, I thought the Sabres were getting out skated. To me, it just seemed as if the Blueshirts' shots on goal weren't accurately reflecting what I was seeing. And I thought it was only a matter of time before we cashed in on a few more opportunities.
Buffalo's third goal came on a horrible turnover by John Mitchell above the dots in the Rangers offensive zone. The result - an odd man rush the other way. When the Sabres made the score 4-1, my son and I promptly left the building. Yet another odd man rush was too much to bear. That was the story of the night. No 100 points for you. And to make matters worse, Mats Zuccarello sustained a broken wrist Friday early in the game.
Then it was off to Toronto for Saturday's game. The Maple Leafs pummeled us in each of our first two encounters. The Blueshirts finally got a game back the previous time we met. And now in our fourth meeting of the season, the Blueshirts got 'em again. But not before the Rangers gave us every indication they were picking-up where they left off Friday, by allowing Toronto to score on yet another odd man rush. Stu Bickle got caught too deep in the offensive zone, and off went Toronto the other way to make it a 1-0 game.
Marian Gaborik promptly tied the game at one apiece. Then in the second period, Toronto went ahead 2-1 again. This time, Brandon Dubinsky, who is playing much better hockey of late, scored his 9th goal of the season, for a second Rangers tie.
Marian Gaborik gave the Rangers their first lead in their last six periods when he scored his second goal of the game and his 37th of the season. But just eighteen seconds later, Toronto tied the game again at three apiece. And that's the way regulation time would end. The Rangers were headed for their fourth overtime game of March. In bitter-sweet fashion, the Blueshirst had just earned their 100th point of this NHL season. Could they get another? To keep more than two points between them and Pittsburgh, they needed to.
They played five more minutes to no avail. In the ensuing Shoot-Out, Henrik stood strong long enough to allow the Captain; Ryan Callahan; to take the last; deciding; and winning shot in yet another game.
So make that 101 points now. That's three points better than the Pens, and it ties us with the St. Louis Blues for the NHL lead.