Friday, November 6, 2009

Renney just an afterthought as Rangers get much-needed road win

Last night wasn’t about winning a hockey game against our former coach Tom Renney. It was about winning a hockey game – period. The Rangers had a 4 game road losing streak – and back-to-back games where they scored just one goal. They needed a turn around – and quick.

Sometimes hockey is a simple game. In order to win you have to score goals and in order to score goals you have to do several things well - but first and foremost:

You have to SHOOT THE PUCK

In their last two games the Rangers didn't shoot enough and – guess what? – we didn't score enough.

But last night in Edmonton they launched 39 shots on Khabibulin, scored 4 times, won the game and gave Lundqvist a much-needed night off in the balance. Good marks all around.

Here’s how we did it:

The Goalies: Khabibulin (and once you learn to say his name it's a little hard to stop) did not play badly. He stopped 35 shots and only let 4 slide by for a Save percentage of .897. It's just that the Rangers' barrage of shots was too much for him. And, subbing just fine for Hank, Stevie V regained his form stopping 26 of the 28 shots that squirted his way – for a .928 save percentage.

Special Teams: This was your ballgame (or more accurately - this was your hockey game).

The Rangers PP scored on 3 of 7 chances and stoned the Oilers in all 4 of their opportunities. You are going to win almost every time with a special teams advantage that wide - and we did.

The New Veteran Rangers: As usual, these guys were your difference makers. After having the team's longest goal-less streak at 15 games, Chris Higgins suddenly has the team's longest consecutive goal games. It's just 2 goals in two games - but it’s great to see the young American starting to turn his season around.

Kotalik pounded his cannon shot into the back of the net on a perfect feed from Gaborik to give us a 3-1 lead in the 2nd. And Kotalik had an assist as well. Prospal also had an assist.

And The Gifted One? Gaborik again came up huge with the dagger goal in the third - a tip in off a Cally shot.

The Kid Rangers: After two pointless games, they got up off the mat. Both Del Zotto and Gilroy had assists. Welcome back to the scorer's table fellas.

Your Returning Rangers: produced a goal and assist from Callahan - and an assist from Staal. But have you noticed how The Captain doesn't get mentioned much in this section?

Defense on Offense? Back in business baby! This is one of the engines that make the team go (when it goes somewhere, that is). Three big assists on the night for this unit. And they only let up 2 goals.

In Conclusion:

Wow, did we ever need this road win to help us get well. The Oilers are not defensive gurus - they didn't seem to have a special plan for Gaborik - and it hurt them. But to our credit the New York Rangers rose up and got a big victory far from home and out of their time zone.

As mentioned, I don’t make much of the fact that Tom Renney - our former coach - is an assistant coach over in Edmonton now. I think the game meant more to him than it did to us. After floundering so badly as of late - we just wanted a win - against anyone. If Tom was their head coach it might have felt more like a battle against our former leader - but there's no reason for the Ranger players to feel angry at Tom – and half the team are newcomers anyway - so I don't think anyone got any extra juice out of seeing Tom on the Oiler bench.

Next Up: A day off (featuring less yelling from Coach Tortorella) and then your 10-6-1 Rangers face that flaming team from Calgary

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