Sunday, October 18, 2009

Recap: Rangers Defeat Leafs Again: 4-1

Hey, can we play the Leafs every night?

As expected Toronto, winless at home - winless everywhere - came out with all they had and played hard, outshooting the Rangers 35 to 28, with most of that edge coming from a 14 shot first period barrage on Lundqvist. But Hank stood tall (or squatted short depending on the circumstances) and in the end we out-lasted and out-performed Toronto for a 4-1 win.

Here's how we won:

The Goalies. Once again you don't have to look much further than Henrik Lundqvist's domination of Toronto's MacDonald. Hank saved 34 of 35 shots for a save percentage of 97.1% - and the lone goal came only after he had saved 3 quick shots in a row. Once again the Leafs ran him over a few times - and once again it was to no avail. MacDonald on the other hand, had no SuperSized night in goal last night: giving up 4 goals on 28 shots, saving just over 85%.

Special teams: And once again, we won the special teams battle as the Rangers connected again for a PowerPlay Goal in four attempts, while blanking the Leafs on all six of their man-advantage chances. For the year now, our Power Play is at 26.3% (up from last years 13%). And our Penalty Kill is humming along at an 88% rate that is BETTER THAN LAST YEAR. That's right, our lone strength last season - and without Betts and Sjostrom we're even better this year.

The New Veteran Rangers again were a big factor. Gaborik didn't find twine tonight, but added two more assists to his impressive start. Lisin, presumably pissed off after being dumped from the 3rd to the to the Brash line (the 4th line with Don Brashear), responded with a goal off of a rebound. Prospal added an assist.

The Returning Rangers made some noise as well. Dubinsky got one of his patented skate-and-shoot goals plus an assist. And Staal scored on a nifty wrap-around. And the much maligned (by me) Redden and Rozsival each provided an assist.

The New Kids again showed they belong. The teenage wonder Del Zotto, playing with his friends and his Mom and Dad in attendance, ripped a shot past MacDonald on the powerplay. (I liked how DZ's Mom clapped enthusiastically, while Dad smiled and tried not to anger the locals by cheering against the home team.)

And in the category of Offensive Defense: While the Leafs had one goal (White) and no assist by their defensemen, the Rangers had 2 goals and 2 assist by their back liners.

In lineup news - it looked like Sean Avery was promoted to playing with the 2nd line in the 3rd period, most probably because of a demotion to Chris Higgins, held scoreless for the season, who was dropped to the 3rd line with "Anis" and "Kannon" Kotalik (a recent arrival from the 4th line).

I like how Tortorella is tinkering based, again, on performance on the ice. But since I had nicknamed the 2nd line "The Americans" and the 3rd line "Avery's Line" I'll have to come up with new labels going foward.

The Rangers, however, keep going forward quite well. This was one of the worst teams in the league - but they did what they needed to win once again. Winning ugly is still a giddy feeling for me. Last year we had to play perfectly just to have a chance. But this year - everything Tortorella touches turns to GOALS!

Next up - and off day Sunday followed by the 4-3-1 San Jose Sharks, who come to the Garden on Monday night in a game that I think will not be on MSG cable. Plan your drinking location accordingly.
In case you missed the big news - Nugman says he will be leaving Blueshirt Brothers. But take a minute to vote in the poll on the right side of this page and let him know we still need him.

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