Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rangers break 2 game slide with franchise win number 2,500

This is good. This is really good.

The Rangers have stopped their losing streak at 2 games – and have won their 2500th as a franchise – and have given Hank a good night's rest while getting Marty Biron his 4th win of the season. And the Rangers have once again righted their little ship - with a dominating 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Whenever some Rangers go into a little scoring slump – the others seem to perk up and take up the slack. I've never seen it this good in a long long time.

Man-Up: our specials flat-out won this hockey game. Our PowerPlay scored a goal in four tries – but more importantly – our Penalty Kill team scored two shorthanded goals while shutting down the Sabres on 3 tries. We were 1-1 at even strength, but won the game 4-1, so you tell me – how did we do on Special teams tonight?

Hagelin – the rookie looks more and more like he belongs in the NHL every game. The U of Michigan star had not one, but two goals tonight – his 2nd and 3rd of the season. Both were blasts – 41 and 54 feet that beat Enroth from the left side. 2 goals in 3 shots, a plus 3 on the night, 2 take-aways and a hit. One of the rare starring roles for a 4th liner.

Biron out-dueled Enroth, posting a .970 save percentage and beating his former team by stopping 32 shots. Marty also got a well deserved assist on Callahan's goal. And now Lundqvist comes in rested to the 2nd night of back to back games.

It was, however, Captain Callahan who came through with the back-breaking game winner. Late in the 2nd period, with the game tied at one, Ryan Callahan steals the puck in deep on the Sabre defense and did a series of moves with his back to the goal (and the Sabre defenseman) that resembled school-yard 1-on-1 basketball more than anything I've ever seen on the ice before. Utterly guarded by his man, Ryan dekes and jukes like Michael Jordan and gets off a 14 foot wrister that like a guided missile finds this tiny opening in the five hole of Enroth to sneak into the net. This was a shorthanded goal – the Rangers' 2nd of the period, with 69 seconds left before the 2nd intermission. When you figure in the cumulative psychological effects on Buffalo of giving up a late goal, a shorthanded goal, a stolen puck goal, the lead, and a highlight reel goal all at once – well, they might as well have staying in the locker room after that one. Cally's biggest goal of the year.

Marian Gaborik notched his 14th of the season with a powerplay goal in the 3rd to ice the game with a 43 foot slapshot.

Mitchell got an assist on Gabby's goal.

Offense on Defense – the Blueliners were huge on offense Saturday night. 2 assists and a plus 2 for Del Zotto – and for Eminger. If you throw in Biron's that would be 5 assists for the defensive core.

SeanWatch: The bad news is that Avery is quickly falling to the bottom of the heap. He trailed all other Rangers in ice time with 3:28, not shots and not hits in 6 shifts. The PAD line (Prust, Aves, and Dubinsky has really become the 4th line on this hockey team.

Still, we take comfort in a businesslike bounce back victory on the road. Our Rangers can score, they can defend, they can goaltend. It's fun to watch. We can only hope it keeps building from here.

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