The Blueshirts are Alive and Well!
FINAL: Flyers 0; RANGERS 7
The saying is, this is the time of year when your team's stars are supposed to shine. In today's most critical game against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Rangers had two who stepped up when many prognosticators leaned towards them getting stepped-on this afternoon. Instead, the Rangers' first win in five tries against the Flyers turned out to be one of their biggest and most convincing victories of the season.
Henrik Lundqvist recorded his second shut-out in five games and his 9th of the season which leads the League. The Rangers are dependent on their King more now than ever with Marty Biron out for the season. The hope here is that Henrik is coming into form and his inconsistencies this season are hopefully behind him. Even though the Rangers scored seven goals today, the problem of the month is not enough scoring. And so in Henrik we must trust.
The incumbent yet still ineffective Rangers' star, Marian Gaborik, returned from his second absence due to injury. But it was the team's un-named Captain; Ryan Callahan who decided to shine brightest when his team needed it most. His two first period goals were all Henrik Lundqvist would need to secure victory, but the goal-starved Rangers decided to score five more for good measure. Ryan Callahan would net four of the Ranger seven goals. You can't shine any brighter than that.
The game was Philly's fourth loss in a row and second loss in consecutive days. If we caught the Flyers at a bad time, so be it. It still goes in the books as a HUGE WIN made even more satisfying by the fact we played a dominating game on home-ice for a change. It's not like Mike Richards didn't try to inspire his Flyers to play better. He did. The problem was he picked on Brandon Dubinsky with which to try and send his team a message. But when Dubz answered Richards with a series of left fists, Brad and his message had a little blood on the cheek and a big look of bewilderment on the face.
If anyone was sending messages, it was Brian Boyle. He let Philly and Jody Shelley know their Broad Street Bull wasn't going to be tolerated today. Prior to that, I saw Michael Sauer immediately jump in-between Marian Gaborik and potential Philly harassment; - which in days gone by was a major criticism about this team.
This game needed to happen exactly the way it did. First off it finally relieved the building skull-pressure of not being able to score in spite of routinely out-shooting their opponents. In Brian Boucher, the Rangers finally played a mediocre goalie who didn't have a career game against the Rangers. Instead, Boucher stunk up The Garden like hot garbage should.
Secondly, this game is a marvelous example of how the younger Rangers were once intimidated by the Flyers earlier in the season and how they are no longer unsettled by them today. In an earlier match-up, Sean Avery took it upon himself in their third game against each other to show the youngsters the way. Prust and Boyle also set examples of what it took to play-up the Flyers. This Sunday afternoon, our young twenty-somes remained stalwart. Philly was met at every challenge Today, even Mats Zuccarello was seven feet tall.
And so tonight, the New York Rangers can sleep knowing they are back on firm ground for the moment.
Losses to the Minnesota Wild and the Buffalo Sabres are what put us on shaky ground to begin with. Tonight those same two teams square off against each other in Minnesota while Carolina (and their 71 points) are idle. With 74 points in their pockets now, the Rangers at least know what position they'll be in when they wake-up in the morning, regardless of what happens with Buffalo later this evening.
Sure the Rangers didn't maximize their opportunities on home-ice during this home stand but they recovered very well with this defeat over Philly. Now they'll take a trip to the Left Coast for games against the DUCKS and the SHARKS. And maybe that's where we want them right now, because after-all, they have been Road Warriors. What ever edge we have, perceived or other-wise, must be utilized at this point.
This week started out looking like the end for the Rangers. But after today, The Rangers showed everyone they are far from dead. So this is what your team did for you today Ranger fans; they allowed us to feel good tonight and be able to have more positive-based conversations about them at work tomorrow. We only get to enjoy it until the plane touches down in California though. Then we go right back to nothing being guaranteed.
So between then and now, that statue in Philadelphia of Rocky Balboa would look awfully good with a Rangers jersey on it; Wouldn't it?
Update: Buffalo defeats Minnesota in O.T. 3-2
7th Place ~ N.Y. Rangers 74 Points
8th Place ~ Buffalo Sabres 72 Points
9th Place ~ Carolina Hurricanes 71 Points