Friday, September 25, 2009

Finally! We Beat The Caps!

Last night at The Garden did not sound like, look like, or feel like a pre-season game. To be honest it felt like more than a run-of-the-mill regular season game too.

It felt like a rematch.

There's been a hole in our Ranger hearts ever since Ovechkin and the Capitals came storming back in the playoffs to erase a 3-1 game deficit and send the Blueshirts home for the summer. Well, pre-season or not - last night's exciting 3-2 win went a long way toward healing those wounds.

There was so much to like tonight. It was as if Sather and Tortorella thought all off-season about how to remake the Rangers into a team that could defeat the Capitals - and friends - they passed that first test. Here are the Ranger changes this season and how they looked tonight

  • New Ranger Marian Gaborik showed why he's worth $7.5 million and was Sather's first off-season target. Gabby showed speed and lightning quick stick work in scoring two big goals - one shorthanded. He was a constant threat tonight. And on the winning goal Gaborik skated into a crowd and flipped a beautiful no look pass to the exact spot where Dubinsky could get it and attack the net. This can't be overstated: Without Gaborik the Rangers lose this hockey game. With him - we can rock and roll with the big kids.

  • Chris Higgins - another Sather-Torts addition, is a big strong player who can hold his position around the opposing net in traffic. So when Dubinsky was stopped in his tracks - Chris grabbed the soft pass and slid it under Theodore for the game winner. Last year we had no one like that - and it hurt us. Higgins was a difference maker tonight. In addition to the goal he also added an assist on one of Gaborik's goals.

  • Kotalik may not have scored a goal - but he showed a really cannon of a shot on the tonight that is going to be a huge threat on the power play. Let him blast from the point with Higgins screening the goalie and fishing for rebounds - and we will stop being the worst PP in the league.

  • Prospal - another new Ranger - looked good as a playmaker and contributed an assist of his own.

  • Brashear may not have intimidated the Caps - but now that he's on our side he kept us from being intimidated. (Wasn't it really weird to see him in a Ranger uniform skating - and punching - against the Caps? And by the way - do pre-season fights "count"? I mean - the guys are actually hitting each other, right?)

So - to sum this up:

New Rangers last night: 3 goals, 3 assists. Returning Rangers: 1 assist.

Look, Glen and Tort's off season moves may not always look like gems. But last night those two guys looked like geniuses.

And Hank looked very sharp. And Dubinsky looks like all the off-season rust fell off in a hurry.

Add it all up and I am getting very very pumped for this season to get underway.

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