Friday, March 26, 2010

Stop the Eulogy! The Rangers ain't dead yet

The pundits and detractors will have to wait. All those references to the Ranger's season in the past tense will have to stop. All those angry words and articles about why the Rangers didn't make the playoffs will have to take a little break. Flag down the funeral procession – open up that coffin – mark those sympathy cards “return to sender”.

Because someone forgot to tell the Rangers their season was over. Someone forgot that down is not always out. Someone forgot to check on the patient - because your New York Rangers are not dead yet.

The Rangers went into a tough building - played a surging Devils team - and came away with a stunning triple come-from-behind shootout win 4-3 last night in New Jersey.

To win it they needed to overcome three separate deficits – scoring to tie the game three times. To win it they needed great goaltending - and they got it. To win they needed timely offense- and they got that too. All my concerns about using Henrik two straight nights was wrong - Torts went with his best with the season on the line and it paid off as Hank won back-to-back must games on successive nights

Chris Drury finally did for us what we hired him for - the last minute monster goal. With less then 20 seconds on the clock - with Lundqvist on the bench for an extra skater - with the Rangers season fading away - Eric Christensen went behind the Devils net and delivered a beautiful blind backward pass through his legs to the side of the net. And Chris Drury knew exactly where to be to get the puck and exactly what to do with it when it arrived. He shot quickly and perfectly - the rubber disc slid between Martin Brodeur's pads and the Rangers - improbably - had fought their way back to a 3-3 tie.
And then, when we had negotiated that tie all the way through Overtime (a treacherous five minutes for us all year) it all came down to the shoot out. Marty vs. Hank.
And guess what - the better man won! Christensen - who's assist led to Drury's last minute heroics - had to wait several anxious minutes for the replay - but the on-ice ruling was overturned and he was awarded a goal. The shot beat Brodeur - found the left post - and found some net on the right side before rolling out again. It counted - and that was all Hank needed (and all he got). Three Henrik stops later and the Rangers had two points - an unlikely euphoric win - and a pulse in the playoff race.

Now – all we’ve done is gotten ourselves back within shouting distance. We’re three points out of the 8th spot with 8 to play. But what was looking impossible two days ago is now looking not so impossible any more.

The Goalies: Henrik rose to the occasion – shook off any signs of fatigue after playing the previous night - faced 38 shots and made 35 saves - many of them spectacular. Lundqvist was the best player on the ice last night and he flat out robbed several Devils from point blank range. Time after time he came up huge to keep the Rangers from falling behind by 2 goals. And Hank had a perfect 3 saves in the shoot out to nail down the win.

Fatso Brodeur - as Sean Avery calls him - made 28 saves on 31 shots - and let up one in the shootout. Not a bad night – but not good enough to beat us.

Special Teams: The Rangers were 1 of 3 on the powerplay. And our penalty kill was perfect in 3 opportunities. We had the edge here and needed it.

The New Veteran Rangers - With Gaborik kept off the score sheet and Jokinen kept off the ice (for what John Tortorella called his "play away from the puck" that had led a Devil's goal) it fell to the journeyman Christensen to step up - and step up he did. His no-look backward pass to Drury was a thing of beauty - and his shoot out goal was the game winner.

Shelly played well, had an assist – and some interesting fight action where he showed how to grab the front of a Devil’s jersey, make a fist, and get a back-and-forth one-handed motion going to land multiple blows to the head – like one of those rubber balls on a string.

When is the last time Marian Gaborik had more hits (3) than shots (1)? He did seem to be hustling out there.

Your Returning Rangers: What can we say about Chris Drury? With the season on the line he found his way to the net - and handled a quick tricky pass from Christensen perfectly - and in one motion found a space between Marty's pads to send the game to OT. You can’t be bigger in a big situation than he was last night.

Dubinsky scored the Ranger's first goal on the Powerplay to get us back in the game. Avery had an assist - and from the pre-game skate to the finish he was a constant distraction to the Devils and their goaltender.

The Kid Rangers - Artem Anisimov looks reborn on the 4th line between Shelly and Prust. And with Cally re-injured and Olli in the doghouse – our 4th line had to become our 3rd line and rose to the occasion. Anisimov got our 2nd goal. Prust had an assist. And Del Zotto had two big assists.

Defense on Offense? Delzy's 2 assists. Rozy played over a half hour of ice time and was +2.

In conclusion: The Flyers blowing a 3-1 lead to lose in OT helped us. The Bruins losing in regulation helped us. The Thrashers losing in OT helped us. But most of all – we helped ourselves. There’s plenty more mountain to climb – but at least we’re still climbing. And we’ve still got a chance.
Next Up: Saturday night in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs. They are all must games now.
Where we stand:
Not dead yet. 10th place but just 3 points behind Boston. And just 4 points behind Montreal and the fading Flyers.


  1. I'm still so excited at how great that game was last night. It was amazing!

  2. Great game and what an ending. Perfect shot by Christensen in the shootout. I think Anis has been looking better the last couple of games, I think it may have been a lack of confidence affecting his game.

  3. Hi Mike - yes - Anisimov is starting to shine. Something about the line he's on - he gets more time and space to operate in. He showed a lot of poise and patience on his goal.

    And yes - HKBlog - your man Henrik was the King again last night. It's great to see he still has it in him.