Friday, December 18, 2009

Goals! Saves! A Ranger Victory! Finally!

Hey! We won a hockey game! After so much pain and suffering – after 5 consecutive losses – after starting to think that we’d never score more than 2 goals ever again – the Rangers provided us with a big jolt of good news for the holiday season. For the first time in a long time we got (1) timely goaltending, (2) some scoring, and (3) a huge dose of NOT LOSING.

After Wednesday’s loss, Coach John Tortorella’s press conference was short, angry, and not suitable for repetition in a family web site. (Editor – he means Torts was cursing). Tortorella was also ominous – hinting that there would be changes made to the team. And one thing you can count on this Coach for – he will not stand still in a crisis.

So – with the wolves circling and the team in crisis – what does a coach do? Well, when John Tortorella has an itch – he scratches. And last night’s healthy scratches were: Wade Redden (and it is about time!) and Ales Kotalik (the man with the Cannon, but not a two-way game – his plus minus is a disaster). And for one night anyway – the move worked.

There were rumors flying around that a loss last night would have put an end to Glen Sather’s increasingly troubled tenure as our General Manager. Was that true? We may never know – because our New York Rangers responded last night – digging deep and coming up – finally – with a stellar effort.

Unless you’re a football team, there’s no such thing as a must-win game in Mid December, but it sure felt that way as the Rangers took the ice last night in Nassau. And make no mistake – the Islanders competed last night – at least the front five did. The ‘slanders outshot our heroes 37 to 22, which on a lot of nights, is going to get them a victory. But not last night.

Because last night, finally, was the Rangers’ night. Here’s the details:

The Goalies: It has been so long since I had a chance to write this - the game was won by Henrik Lundqvist outplaying his counterpart. Hank had a great game - holding off the Islanders against a barrage of shots.

The Islanders, playing at home against a desperate Ranger team, outshot the Blueshirts. But Hank came up huge and while Roloson was coming up not-so-huge.

Roloson’s numbers were terrible. He let in 5 goals on 22 shots and made just 17 saves for a save percentage of .773 percent.

This was the Henrik Lundqvist we know and love. Hank stopped 35 shots and let in just 2 goals (admittedly one was a late goal - a symptom, I believe, of the overwork he's getting from John Tortorella). His save percentage was .946% - which means he had a great night.

Special Teams: A big boost from this unit. The Ranger power play scored on 3 of 6 opportunities while the penalty kill unit was a perfect 7 for 7. You are virtually never going to lose when your special teams dominate like that.

The New Veteran Rangers: The Gifted One had a big night. Gaborik had a goal and 2 big assists on Cally's Tallys. Prospal had 2 assists of his own and won 6 of 11 faceoffs. Christensen won 5 of 8 faceoffs. 4 hits for Lisin.

The Kid Rangers contributed a goal from Anisimov. And I guess we should point out the 3 rookie defensemen hung in there pretty well. Delzy had 4 hits. Heikkinen was +1 and Bobby S. was even.

Your Returning Rangers came to the party big time last night. Ryan Callahan had a thrilling night: 2 goals and 2 assists. And the Captain returned to the Bridge - Drury finally notched a goal. Rozsival had 2 assists and Girardi had one. And SEAN had an assist and 4 hits.

Defense on Offense: 3 assists from this unit.

In conclusion:
Is this A New Beginning or a Dead Man’s Bounce? We’ll find out a lot more in the next few days. And maybe we can finally jettison some of the dead weight. Redden? Sather? I sure hope so.
But anyway Toto, we won a hockey game. Finally!
Where we stand: In the tightly bunched Eastern Conference the win catapults us to 9th place. We’re just 2 points out of 8th place – but also just 2 points out of 15th place.
Next Up: One rest day and then it’s down the turnpike to play the Philadelphia Flyers – a team with a record almost identical to ours. We’re 15-16-3 and they are 15-16-2.
Lookout below: if you want to read one very excited post by my 11 year old son Pucks Junior – who has suffered through the longest losing streak he can remember - check out his happy post below.

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