Monday, October 12, 2009


"We were hitting crossbars, posts," said Kotalik, who struck iron twice before scoring. "We stayed with it, stayed patient and we knew we'd have the strength and conditioning to win it in the third period. We did it."

A great New York sports day/night wouldn't be complete without a dominant performance on home ice from the blue shirts. The Rangers controlled the play from the first drop of the puck against a tired Ducks team, but for 2 periods, it had "potentially devestating loss" written all over this game. Dominating a team, and having nothing to show for it, can be mentally damaging to a team. The Rangers easily could have gone to the third period without confidence, wondering what it would take to finally break thru, as they had 24 shots on goal, had hit two posts, and would soon drill a crossbar in the opening minutes of the third period. The last thing a quality goalie like Giguere needs is extra help, and it really felt like the Rangers might end up on the wrong side of a bad bounce, 1-0 sort of loss. The Ducks headed out for the third, potentially with a mental edge, knowing they had been completely dominated for most of the game...yet were tied. It could have been an edge...but it wasn't. Because this Rangers team believes the third period is their period. They believe they will have the fresher legs. They believe they will work harder, and they are buying in to what Torts is selling.

Torts couldn't have scripted this better. He gets Vally his first start of the season, finally getting Hank a game off. (Gotta try and get him more this season, get him as fresh and rested for the playoffs as possible...anyone still doubt this is a playoff team?) Hank got a nice 3 days off, Vally faced the tougher team, but a more tired team. Torts felt that the Rangers conditioning could over power the Ducks, keep the pressure off Vally, and maybe he could steal a win...and he was right. The Rangers allowed just ONE shot in the first period, 12 thru two periods. And the Ducks really only had 2 great scoring chances in the game (created by Rangers turnovers). Vally not only gets a win, he gets a shutout! His confidence next time he takes the net should be sky high. And now tomorrow, when maybe a few of the older guys legs are a little heavier against Toronto, they got a very well rested Hank to make up for their mistakes, as they look for their 5th straight win and to put some distance between themselves and some of the lower seeds in the eastern conference.

- "Avery has his own agenda out there," Carlyle said. "Some of the things he says to people, you can't believe."

For all those not aware, Sean Avery is back....and has an impact. He's like another, more annoying, Callahan out there on the ice. Avery drew the penalty in the third period that set up the first of TWO rangers power play goals. Then with less than 6 minutes to play, avery picked up a secondary assist on the Rangers second power play goal from Anisimov. Strong night for Avery, +2, and as is usually the case when avery plays...the Rangers won.

- "We are happy with four wins in a row," Valiquette said, "but we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves because we know a pat on the back is only a few feet from a kick in the butt."

If this is the mindset our backup goalie has, A guy who rarely plays, and who just came off one of the best nights of his career (4th shutout, 15th win) and that's the first thing that came to mind when asked to talk about this game, you gotta think Torts has the boys focused on the bigger picture this season.

Nugman's Stars of the Game:

# 3 - Special Teams: Rangers go 2 for 5 on the power play, netting two goals in the 3rd period (Kotalik, Anisimov). Also, the Penalty kill goes 4/4, and gets a shorthanded goal from Dan Girardi.

# 2 - Valiquette: He wasn't brilliant, but was solid as usual in his back up role. He doesn't get to play much, but always seems to bring a consistent level of solid play for the Rangers. He turned away all 18 shots he faced for his 4th career shut out.

# 1 - Avery: This was a strong team effort, so I could have chosen a lot of guys. (Prospal and gaborik got assists, Kotalik got the game winner off the power play) But avery logged 10+ minutes his first game back, drew a penalty that set up the first goal, then assisted on the second goal. He gets in the other teams head, and usually is instant offense for the Rangers. Also, he's addition by subtraction. The return of Avery meant Voros was a healthy scratch.

Looking ahead: The Rangers now have 2 games in the next 3 days (marking the second time in the young season the Rangers play 3 games in 4 days, off to a good start with the win tonight). Hank will most likely be in net tomorrow night at home against Toronto. Toronto is 0-3-1 on the young season, and is allowing better than 4 goals per game. The Rangers have now scored 3 or more goals in 4 straight games, leading me to believe they should be able to net 3/4 tomorrow night. With a rested Hank in goal....sounds like 5 victories in a row is a pretty strong bet. (Rangers then host the Kings on wednesday, and head to Toronto on saturday, as they have a chance to close the week potentially on a 7 game win streak, and to get some big points early in the season. Can't have a let down after the last 4 games played now)

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