Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ranger Beat Pens 3-1, Topping the League

So much for skating under the radar.

Your New York Rangers have assembled a big Blue target on their backs as they win their 4th in a row and 9th win in 10 games. And here we sit – 56 points – and way atop the Eastern Conference standings, a full 3 points ahead of 2nd place Boston as I type this. We're the only team in the only team in the NHL without double digit losses. We're the over-all point leader.

I mean – I wanted to be good – but not this good. At least not this good this early. I mean – as a Ranger fan – I'm conditions to scan the middle of the Eastern Conference standings to see if we're in 8th place. From that 7 year stretch where we didn't make the playoffs my next reflex is to look at the bottom. And it is only then, confused and perplexed that my eyes will wander up the standings to find us all the way at the top.

Okay – enough nervous venting – on to the game. The Aquatic Birds (who are somewhat harder to hate without Sid Crosby) started the game with a barrage – hoping to exhaust the Rangers who had won in OT the night before while the 'Guins had 5 days rest. Pittsburgh had 11 of the first 12 shots and held the Blueshirts SHOTLESS for the opening 10 minutes. And is was Henrik Lundqvist who kept us in the game – making several massive saves and only surrendering a single tally to Ben Lovejoy (how would you like that last name?) at 5:43.

Later in the first, the Penguins had tired themselves out and the Rangers struck back as McDonagh worked the puck down low to the resurgent Dubinsky – who found Richards alone on the doorstep for a

hockey's version of a layup – tying the score at 1 and visibly deflating the Penguins – who had thrown everything at the Rangers and had little to show for it.,

Our defense continued to hang tough and at 3:09 of the 2nd period, Dubinsky cashed in on a shorthander and the Rangers had their first lead.

The in in the 2nd minute of the third period Marian Gaborik caught Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury out of his net (Marc-Andre – how could you!) stole the puck, and found himself with a nearly impossible shot from the red line. Still – being super-human, Gabs launched one that hit the post. And the hockey gods rewarded The Gifted One as the puck bounced straight to Stepan who took a second try at the still-empty net and made this one count. The Pitt-Pens could get no closer and your Rangers climbed to 26-9-4.

Goals (as mentioned) for Gabs, Dubs, and Step. Assists for Cap-Call (Callahan), Dubs, Girardi, and McDonagh. Plus 3 for Girardi and McDonagh. 4 hits for Bickel, Callahan, Dubinsky, Prust and Rupp.

28 minutes of ice time for Girardi. And for the returning Marc Staal 15 minutes, 3 hits, and one shot on goal. When Staal returns to form – this impressive defense will only get better. And just think what we'll look like with Sauer back as well.

We out hit the Water-Wings 35-22, and outscored them despite being outshot 35-22. And in a rare face-off advantage we won 40 and only lost 25. (Richards won 18 and only lost 5).

So to sum up – Dave Pucks is a happy guy – Rangers win – and all's right with the world. The Rangers may not be under the radar any more – but they're thriving in the spotlight – at least for now.

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