Sunday, January 11, 2015

Rangers Bite Sharks to Sweep West Road Trip

The red hot Rangers brought their traveling road show to San Jose Saturday night and ran into a Sharks team that were flying around the rink, attacking, hitting, and moving the puck. 
The Rangers appeared to be thoroughly outplayed in the first period – but with equal doses of resilience and Henrik Lundqvist – not only kept the home team off the score sheet – they struck back for a pair of goals themselves.

And Chris Kreider flashed some of that amazing potential that has all Ranger fans so excited about what this guy can be.

First – in front of the net – Kreider – reached back one handed for the puck with his stick and – with a play that almost looked like a ping pong paddle backhand – tapped the puck to Marty St. Louis in perfect position.  Marty snapped the puck home from point blank range and the Rangers, who had withstood an onslaught for 10 minutes – had the improbable 1-0 lead.

Five minutes later – it was Kreider again.  This time he used his strength to hold position in front of the Shark net (Editor – “shark net?” That sounds like something from a fishing show) (Dave Pucks – I mean the goal net of the San Jose Sharks) (Editor – got it) and the San Jose defense just could not move him.  Niemi let up another rebound off his pads and Kreider pounced on it – and muscled it into the Sharks goal for a 2-0 lead in the first.

And that was really all we needed because Henrik Lundqvist played maybe his best game of the year.  Was the proud former Vezina trophy winner feeling slighted because he wasn’t selected to the all-star game?  We’ll probably never know – but Hank was magnificent – fighting back the Shark’s onslaught over and over again.  They did break through with a single goal – on the powerplay in the third – where Hank stopped the initial shot – but Karlsson was there to bank the rebound.  But one goal was all Henrik would let up.  In all he stopped thirty shots and was the difference last night.

And, in the game’s final minute – with San Jose pulling Niemi for the extra skater – it was Rick Nash showing patience, strength, and skill as he took the puck into the San Jose zone – crossed in front of the Shark’s empty goal -  and out waited the defense for the wide open shot to seal the deal at 3-1.

The Rangers are showing they can beat you in many ways.  We can skate - we can pass – we can score – and Hank can stone you.  It’s a pretty powerful combination – the best I’ve ever seen the Red Pants put together in years – and it’s good for 13 of 14.

Did special teams determine the outcome of this game?  No actually because the Sharks scored on the powerplay – we didn’t – and we won anyway.  San Jose was pretty aggressive on the PK and ended up stopping us all three times we tried.  It just wasn’t enough.

Where do we stand?  It’s like a broken record – the damn Capitals won AGAIN.  So they are – again – tied with the Rangers for 3rd in the Metro – but we have the two games at hand.  We’re still 5 points above the line-of-death (the 9th place Panthers at the moment) and 4 behind the hates Crosbys for 2nd place.

What Will Happen To Us Now?  Two rest days and we return from the left coast to our home ice for a one game home stand against the first place Islanders in a much anticipated clash of rivals.

We keep winning.  It’s a wonderful thing.  When Hank saves 0.968 of the shots thrown at him – we can beat anybody.  Dave Pucks out – and let’s keep it going!

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