Just look at your NHL Eastern Conference Standings this morning. In 7th place now – after going 6-2-2 in their last 10 games – are your New York Rangers. Now, we’re only 4 points out of a tie for 13th… but hey, I’ll take it.
How did we get to 7th? With a shocking 3-2 win last night over the Boston Bruins.
Why shocking? Let me explain:
1 - I was amazed and pleased to see the Rangers work hard at home and get within 6 minutes of a 2-0 shutout win at home.
2 – I was astounded when the Rangers instead of taking a bad penalty in the third period – were the recipients of one at 13:28, giving us – I thought – a chance to eat up 2 big minutes to get us that much closer to the final buzzer up by two.
3 – I was shocked and dismayed when we let up – of all things – a shorthanded goal at 14:33 to let the Bruins back in the game at 2-1.
4 – And I was shockingly UNSURPRISED to see the 2nd Boston goal get by Lundqvist to tie the game at 2 with 4 minutes left to go.
5 - But Higgins scoring a clutch game winner? With less than 2 minutes remaining? At MSG where he has never scored as a Ranger? Well - that is about as shocked as Dave Pucks can get watching a hockey game.
So, as unhappy as I was to see Lundqvist surrender not one but two late goals - I was elated (editor - he means "happy") to see our Rangers rise up and strike back against a team that had all the momentum swinging their way.
In short: A VERY encouraging win for the Ranger offense.
Here are the details:
The Goalies: Lundqvist faced 28 shots and made 26 saves. That was, in the end, a better performance than the very hot Mr. Rask, who made 32 saves on 35 shots. If we had Boston's back up goalie, we'd be challenging for first place right now - I really believe that.
Hank, who has been letting up late goals this season - this time let up 2 late goals. In the last six minutes of the game, less than 90 seconds apart, Hundwick (on a shorthander) and Wheeler scored. But over the 60 minutes Hank played well enough to win
Special Teams: A mixed bag. Our Penalty Kill was perfect, blanking Boston in 3 attempts. Our PowerPlay, in 5 chances including some 5-on-3, scored one goal - but let up the terrible shorthander with 6 minutes left that woke up the hibernating Bruins.
The New Veteran Rangers: Somehow - when that icy smoke had cleared - there were no goals and no assists by Marian Gaborik. But even without The Gifted One - this unit was pretty much the whole show.
But Cannon Kotalik produced a goal with his powerful slapshot. And Waiver-man Erik Christensen continues to show he can compete on the top line with a goal of his own. And Chris Higgins somehow shook off a half-season's worth of disappointment and produced a Huge goal - the game winner in the final two minutes after the Rangers had blown a 2-0 lead in the Third.
The Kid Rangers showed up after a few nights off. Del Zotto had a nice assist on Christensen's goal.
Your Returning Rangers worked hard and collected five big assists. Dubinsky and Callahan in the first period, Dubinsky in the second, and Drury and Callahan again in the third.
Defense on Offense? One assist.
In conclusion: The best part about last night was that we managed three goals without so much as an assist from Marian Gaborik (or of course the injured Prospal). This gives me this happy little feeling inside. A feeling I couldn't identify right away because I hadn't felt it in so long.
That feeling was hope. Hope for the Rangers season. Because if we can get non-Gaborik-al scoring. And if we can play tough and smart and come back when the ice chips are down - then maybe - just maybe - this team can make some noise this year.
Where we stand: As mentioned up top - the win pushed us to 7th place in a very crowded playoff picture. This is the highest we've been in a long time.
Next Up: We're back on the ice Wednesday to face Dallas. (Really? There’s a hockey team in Dallas?)
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