Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Touchdown! Rangers Score Seven – Beat Blue Jackets

Goodbye Columbus! In what was easily the most thrilling Ranger victory of the season, the Blueshirts overcame a 2-0 deficit, scoring seven straight goals to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-4.

The Rangers fell behind by two goals early in the contest and Coach John Tortorella called a timeout. Not to scream at his players – to encourage them.

Torts explained afterward: “I just told them to take a deep breath because we weren’t playing that badly. We just made a couple of mistakes and it ends up in the net. I just told them to take a deep breath. There is a lot of hockey left.”

It's called coaching. And man, did it ever work. The Rangers came back flying and in a 22 minute span of the first and second periods scored 7 times – reversing Columbus' lead, taking over the game, and giving the Rangers a badly-needed win.

What a night! In addition to the 11 goals we had two fights. Voros went after Aaron Boll – who had been punishing Marc Staal and other Rangers with vicious checks. Voros won the fight – in fact all the refs could give Boll was a “roughing” penalty to balance Aaron's fighting major. It was a long-overdue gesture of protecting his fellow Rangers by Voros that the team clearly appreciated.

The fight must have gotten Brashear's attention (“oh yeah, that's right – fighting!”) and so Punch-Man went after Boll himself at 2:14 of the 3rd period, landing ten head shots (I counted them) as Jared tried to clinch and turn his face away.
After what the Rangers have been through recently, did we ever need a night like this one. Thrilling to watch. And here are the details:

The Goalies: Hank again made some great saves. And again the Rangers exposed him to a lot of quality chances. Statistically it won't look all that good for Lundqvist. He saved 30 of 34 shots for a .867 percentage. But if you score 7 for hank – you're going to win. Always.

The Blue Jackets switched goalies to no avail. Garon stopped just 12 of 15 shots for a .800 save percentage. And Mason stopped just 14 of 18 for a worse .778 save percentage. The Rangers scored on better than 1 of each 5 shots they took.

Special Teams: Only one Ranger Shorthanded situation on the night and we killed it off. The Powerplay was 1-4. Advantage Rangers, but only part of the story.

The New Veteran Rangers: Two huge goals and two big assists for – who else? - Marian Gaborik. The Gifted One lifted his game when we needed him most and was everywhere on the ice – digging, skating, passing, shooting and scoring. Two goals on 3 shots. Plus Minus of +3. Nearly 19 minutes of ice time. His best night – of many great nights as a Ranger. Thank God for Gabs. Prospal also had an assist. Two assists for Higgins who looked great on the top line. It looks like Torts may keep these guys together for a while.

The Kid Rangers re-joined the party in a big way. A goal and 2 assists for Anisimov. Parenteau had two assists. A nice goal for Del Zotto. And a great breakaway goal for Gilroy, who deked 9 times before burying the puck from close in with his family in attendance.

The Returning Rangers? Finally, yes! SEAN! A two goal night – his second of the season. Sean scored a PowerPlay goal that, for a minute, no one saw but Avery. But eventually the light went on, then the review-crew in Toronto agreed. And less than a minute later Avery found himself on the ice with Gaborik – a rare combo that produced instant results. Gabs put an absolutely perfect pass on Avery's stick that he hammered home. Sean's 2 goals moved us from a 1 goal to a 3 goal lead and broke the game open. I'm so happy for Sean, who has been working hard and who deserves a little success for all the abuse he puts up with on the ice with no help from the referees.

Where was I? Of yeah, returning Rangers. Besides Sean, Wade Redden had an assist – a hard slapshot that was re-directed into the net.

Defense on Offense: Yes there was. Two goals and an assist for this unit. Our Defense has been outscoring the 2nd and 3rd lines.

In Conclusion: A night to remember. Nothing less than the game of the year. We scored seven once before back in October – but this was a night the Rangers desperately needed – an offensive explosion for our first regulation win in 6 games – and just what we needed to get our mojo back.

And someone not named Gaborik or Prospal scored. Lots of someones. Avery (twice) and Anisimov on offense. And Gilroy and Delzy for the defense. Let's hope our guys can keep the momentum going.
And I know that Torts will stick with Higgins on the top line since it worked - but that brief tasts of Sean playing with Gaborik worked so beautifully - I hope that stays in Coach's head. I think the hard-working speed-skating attention-drawing Avery would be perfect with Gabs and Vinny.
Next Up: One day of rest – then 5 games in 8 days, First up – a 3 game road trip – starting with us getting another crack at the Panthers who beat us 3-2 on Saturday.

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