Monday, October 12, 2009

Ranger Penalty Kill - better than last year!

Second Tier? Not so far. Through five games your New York Rangers look like a playoff team that can make it into the second round - at least.

As usual, my blog partner Nugman covered yesterday's impressive win in great detail - and take a look below for his recap and below that for his in-game updates. Nugs is a happy guy these days with his Yankees and G-men rolling. And I, like Sam Rosen, was able get a much-appreciated off day Sunday.

Here's what I liked about Sunday's 3-0 blanking of the Ducks.

We could have had more. We were unlucky, actually, clanging two posts and a crossbar and still won - eventually - convincingly.

Valiquette showed he belongs here. Although you have to credit your Ranger defense as well. I mean, Steve only face 3 shots in the first period. You could have put me in the Spider man Mask - propped me up in the net - faced me the right way - and I wouldn't have let in more than 3 goals myself. But although the Ranger D really helped - as the game went along Valli did stand up and make some nice saves. I think the whole team gets that the coach wants excellence and no one wants to give him anything but their best. It's a good place to be.

And man, was I wrong about Special Teams. I thought the Rangers would be hurting on special teams this year - given my respect for Blair Betts and our past recent history on the Powerplay. But yesterday the Specials were the difference - and the Rangers, 2-5 on the PP and 4-4 on the PK were on the receiving end of that difference.

Looking at our stats for the year now we see something amazing: Our Penalty kill rate this year is 88% (22 of 25) which actually nets out better than last year's 87.8%. I'm, frankly stunned. Granted were only 5 games in, but we've played some potent offenses and we're doing really well. I wondered how much worse the PK would be without Betts and Sojostrom - I never dreamed it could be better.

And our Powerplay is now 20% on the year (5 of 25). That's way up over the paltry 13.9% mess we put up last season. That Kotalik cannon finally found the twine on the powerplay - just as we'd been talking about since Sather brought him on board.

To complete the recap:

New Veteran Rangers have shown up huge again: Kotalik had a goal and a variety of post and crossbar clangs, Prospal an assist. Gaborik had an assist as well and once again looked really wonderful out there.

New Kid Rangers also contributed again. Our young center "Anis" Anisimov slammed in his first career goal, and Del Zotto and Gilroy played like big leaguers again - contributing to 60 minutes of shut out hockey

Returning Rangers helped as well - with Drury anchoring the Penalty Kill and Girardi scoring the longest empty netter I've seen in years - to clinch the game. And Avery, finally back in action, had his game and his mouth in mid season form with an assist, some great play, and drawing the penalty that got us going.

So, a good day at the office for your Rangers. And now - with no rest - they take on the 0-3-1 Maple Leafs tonight at 7pm. Let's hoping that those well-conditioned legs hold up on zero days rest!

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