Henrik's Milestone Season Continues Against Flyers
NEW YORK RANGERS: Henrik Lundqvist Notches 30 Wins In A Season For Eighth Time In Career.
The Broad Street Bullies and Broadway Blueshirts squared off at the Garden Wednesday night. Philly entered the game in third place of the Metropolitan Division, trailing the Rangers by a point. In the Eastern Conference standings, the Rangers entered the night as the fifth seed, and Philly was likewise sixth.
The Rangers, who own the Eastern Conference's second best defense, stifled the conference's sixth rated offense, en route to a 3-1 final, although I feel the Flyers looked flat on this night.
With a poor start to the season (by his standards) long behind him, Henrik Lundqvist stopped 30 of 31 pucks for his 306th career win. In yet another milestone achievement for the goalie, Henrik also earned his 30th victory of the regular season - the 8th time he's accomplished that. Last season was the only year in which Henrik did not record at least 30 wins, primarily because of the NHL work stoppage, yet he led the NHL for the first time with 24 victories.
Ryan McDonagh has scored the most goals in a season by a Rangers defenseman since Brian Leetch found net 21 times at the turn of the millennium.
RICK NASH NEEDS TO REGENERATE HIS ANGER LEVEL
Rick Nash has cooled off since Columbus earned his ire. Which brings to attention something that needs repeating. Rick Nash needs to play more intensely, with more anger, or perhaps with a major chip on his shoulder. It is no mystic insight on my part, that when the playoffs start, physicality increases exponentially.
Unless he starts tapping into his inner Farmer Brown now, and starts planting seeds of doubt among the league's more aggressive blokes, Rangers opponents will no doubt begin targeting him again. That means taking flat out runs at him, that he himself needs to police, but, if for anything else, just to get him off the ice and into the box, in a very uneven exchange of skilled, and unskilled players. On that part, his team mates must intercede, and take on more responsibilities, if you know what I mean.
The march towards the playoffs must now continue minus the services of Chris Kreider, who must attend to a fractured hand. Kreider contributed 17 goals and 20 assists this season, and sports a +14 over 66 games. His size and speed on the ice will be missed. It now become more imperative than ever, Martin St. Louis break out of his funk, and start finding the back of the net. The Rangers are only averaging 2.6 goals per game as it is. The human yo-yo, J.T. Miller, will be recalled from Hartford to fill Kreider's roster spot.
Nonetheless, the Rangers are now winners of five in a row, and have gained a small measure of separation from the Flyers, in addition to #7 Columbus and #8 Detroit in the conference standings. The Blueshirts now only trail the #4 Tampa Bay Lightning by one point. Obviously, home ice advantage in the first round of playoffs is the motivation for overtaking Tampa. The Rangers have eight games left to continue affecting the standings.
It's off to the great white north now, to go panning for points with three games in the Canadian Rockies, and a stop in Colorado. The Rangers can not afford to bow down to the Calgary Flames, nor the Edmonton Oilers. Those are four must have points. The Western Conference standings say they are inferior last place teams, with 67 points, and 59 points, respectively. However, always beware the trap game, or in this case, trap games.
Then waiting in Vancouver, will be a very desperate Canucks team. John Tortorella's minions are currently 10th in the Western Conference standings. For obvious reasons, I envision this game devolving into something like a war. I'll reiterate, that Philly was flat Wednesday night, and that the Canucks will elevate the physicality above what the Rangers recently experienced against Columbus.
The Rangers will close out the four game road trip in Colorado, against the 5th seeded Avalanche. The Philadelphia Flyers next four games are decidedly tougher. They must face Toronto, Boston, St. Louis, and Columbus.