Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Think I Glove You! Lundqvist reclaims his game - Rangers Win

That was a long time coming. After six straight losses – Henrik was the master out there last night – out-classing Martin Brodeur and making the difference as the Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1.

After giving up 6 goals to the Washington Capitals – and wasting 5 goals from his teammates on Thursday, Hank was the Franchise superstar on Saturday night – stopping 41 shots. Most impressive was his work with the glove. Henrik has been altering his glove side positioning this season – in response to a growing reputation around the league that he can be beaten high on the glove side.

Last night Hank stood a little taller and kept his glove a little higher. And it paid off. He snatched a half dozen shots out of the air with a lightning fast left hand. One shot – a six foot slapshot from Mottau that Hank didn't even see coming – but somehow got his glove on and caught cleanly – was one of the best glove saves I've ever seen Hank come up with.

The Rangers battled throughout – exploded for 3 goals in 2:40 of the 2nd period - and held on to get a much needed win over a very good Devils team. Kovalchuk took 8 shots – and came away with nothing.

The Goalies: Like the Garden crowd chanted for much of the night: Hen-Rik! Outshot 42 to 25 the Rangers won because Hank was much – much – better than Marty.

Hank stopped 41 shots – several of the saves spectacular. A save percentage of .971% is much better than we've seen lately and the kind of performance that gives the Rangers the edge against any other team in the league.

Marty – who was serenaded by the MSG crowd in a derisive “Mar-ty” chant that actually seemed to shake the fat old man's composure – fell apart over a 2 minute 39 second span and let in 3 goals on 4 shots. Overall he stopped just .880% of the shots he faced – just 22 saves.
So – yes – we beat the Devils on goaltending. And it feels great to say that.

Special Teams: The Rangers Penalty Kill has been one of our strengths this year. Despite giving up 3 PP goals tot the Caps (and stopping them 6 times ) - we bounced back last night and denied the Devils on all 5 of their extra-man chances. On our own PP we scored once in three tries. So we won special teams – which helped us with the game.

The New Veteran Rangers: Gaborik was in perfect position – and didn't even have to move his stick – to direct the puck past Brodeur for yet another goal by The Gifted One. Jokinen won 8 of 12 faceoffs and was +1 on the night with 2 blocked shots and a hit. Boyle had a great (if late) check that helped create an odd man rush that resulted in a Ranger goal. I will mention that Prospal and Christensen were the only Rangers with a -1 last night.

The Kid Rangers: I am putting Prust in this category – it's his first full season in the NHL. The kid got an assist, two fights, a hit and was +1 on the night. It's hard not to notice him. Del Zotto and Gilroy had assists. Anisimov won just one of five faceoffs – and it has been a long time since we called his name in a positive way. With all the centers we have on this team – well, I'll let you finish that thought for me.

The Returning Rangers: won this hockey game for us. Callahan was everywhere – 6 hits – 5 shots – a goal and an assist. Chris Drury – the forgotten 4th line captain – scored a goal. Dubinsky didn't score – but won 3 of 4 faceoffs and played an active game. And how about Sean Avery – goading Kovalchuk into a fight with 2 minutes to go – effectively removing the Devil's best weapon from the ice for the remainder of the game?

Defense on Offense: Two assists. When we hear from this unit – odds are we will win.

In Conclusion: Wow – did we ever need this one. Huge, clutch, great performance from your New York Rangers – defending their home ice against a great Devils hockey team. And it goes to show – Lundqvist can still pull out these incredible performances. And when he does – the Rangers have just enough firepower to compete with anybody. 8 goals in 2 nights – with an empty netter just beaten by the buzzer.
Next Up:
Only three more games before the Olympics. On Wednesday night we're home to the Nashville Predators. I'd start Chad – it helps him develop and helps Hank rest.

Where We Stand: The Clump continues. We're in 9th – tied in points with the 8th place Flyers. One point out of 10th. Two points out of 12th. And the Islanders have fallen 3 points behind the clump by going 2-8. Carolina, by the way – have won 7 of 10 and have climbed out of last place.

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