Friday, January 8, 2010


Look, we lost. But....

We took the game all the way to a shoot out and got a tough point on the road against a tough goalie that always plays well against us. We played great defense and we were great on the penatly kill. And we played with energy and desire despite back to back games and the travel.

But the real story of the night is Ranger Rookie Goalie Chad Johnson.

Our last word of our pre-game post was this: “John Tortorella – we plead and implore you – start Chad Johnson!”

And lo and behold (Editor - that means “lookit”) Tortorella, after 17 straight games of Henrik Lundqvist, sent out rookie goaltender Chad Johnson out between the pipes.

And Chad was nothing short of magnificent. This is a 23 year old rookie making his first NHL start. And he went up against Atlanta's Hedberg who always has the Rangers number.
Hedberg was nearly unbeatable – but Johnson matched him save for save. Chad was in command out there – moving with confidence – making saves high, low, left and right. And it was only a bad line change by the Rangers that let to the breakaway that produced Atlanta's only regulation goal.

There's something about Chad's game that settles down his teammates. I can't explain it exactly – but he exudes (Editor – he means “give off”) this calm and confidence that spreads to his team. And I don't think I have ever seen a rookie do that before – especially in his first ever NHL start.

And to top it all off – Johnson got an assist on the lone Ranger goal. The box score doesn't even have a way of recording that. Johnson got the puck to Staal who got it to Lisin for a 12 foot tip in.
And if only the Rangers could have managed a 2nd goal, they could have gotten the kid his first NHL win. But the Blueshirts did help Chad out as best they could on defense – blocking shots and slowing down the Thrashers any way they could.

In the end, on the Shoot Out we could manage one goal and Chad let up 2 in 5 attempts. But don't blame the kid – this was a masterful NHL debut. Make no mistake – most NHL goaltenders would have lost this game in regulation. Chad didn't, and now the rangers have points in 9 of their last 10 games.

Also – I don't want to nit pick – but I don't understand why Tortorella sent Del Zotto out for his first-ever shootout with the game on the line. Too much pressure to throw at a 19 year old. But I did like Gaborik shooting third – I think that's better than having him first – and it worked.

Here's the official recap:

The Goalies: If Hedberg was brilliant (30 saves, .967 save percentage), Johnson was “brilliant-er” (32 saves and .969 save percentage). And the move helps Hank get a little rest after 17 straight starts.

Special Teams: Again one goal here would have won this for us. We were 0-2 on the powerplay. But we were perfect, dominant even, on the penalty kill (3-3)

The New Veteran Rangers: One goal by Lisin. Gabby scored on the Shoot Out.

The Kid Rangers: Chad counts as a kid – he had an assist.

The Returning Rangers: Staal had an assist as well.

Defense on Offense: Just the one assist.

In Conclusion: If there are Encouraging losses – this was one. We got a point – we got a new Goalie up and running – we got hank some much needed rest – and we played hard after playing the night before and traveling.
Next Up: Saturday afternoon at Boston.

Where We Stand: Every point helps. We're still in 7th place in the East, but we're tied now with the 6th place Ottawa Senators

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