Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Rangers score 5 – need them all to beat Leafs 5-4

Well, it’s a win.  Talbot’s 2nd victory in the (hopefully temporary) post-Lundqvist era was maybe his worst game of the year.  With his family in attendance in Toronto – Cam let up 4 goals, including two shots from 40 feet or more.

The Maple Leafs are not a good team – but they do have a winning record at home.  They’re the kind of club that attacks all the time – and for good reason – they don’t play defense very well.  They let up more than 3 goals a game and are 25th in the NHL in defense. 

So the Rangers attacked and – as we’ve said before – goals can cover up a whole lot of other problems.  The Rangers got five last night and needed the all – and a goal post – to hold off a Toronto team that kept digging their way back into the game.

Things started off well enough.  In the game’s third minute Dan Boyle saw an opening and charged the net.  Brassard saw him from behind the Toronto net and game him a perfect pass right in front of the net that Boyle netted for the early lead.

And then at 10:37 Brassard intercepted the puck in the offensive zone – got it to Nash – who fed Zuccarello in front for the first of three 2 goal leads.

But the Leafs scored before the first period ended and the Rangers carried the 2-1 lead into the 2nd.

Staal carried the puck right to the Toronto net – slid it across to Hayes – who put the Rangers up 3-1.  But just 20 seconds later it was 3-2.

And there’s more.  Mid way through the 2nd – with the Leafs on the powerplay – the Rangers scored again.  They really dominated the action – it actually looked like the Rangers had the extra skater for much of the penalty time.  And to cap it off – Dominic Moore (whose family was also in attendance) did the hockey equivalent of the turn around three point jump shot.  His spin-a-rama from 40+ feet away beat James Reimer cleanly and and the Rangers had a 4-2 lead going into the third.

The 2 goal lead held up all of 20 seconds of the third.  And then at 6:46 an unassisted goal by Dan Winnick and the Leafs had fought from deficits of 2-0, 3-1, and 4-2 for the 4-4 tie.
 And so it was the Nash-Brassard-Zuccarello line that bailed them out again.  Dominic Moore scooted on the puck down the right side – and promptly tripped over his own skates.  But Nash dashed over – gained possession - and fed Zuccarello all along between the circles.  The little Norwegian shot the puck just inside the right post – and the Rangers were back on top 5-4. 

In the final five minutes Toronto put on several rushes – and did hit a post on Talbot as mentioned earlier.  To Talbot’s credit – he made all the saves he needed to at the end and showed some ingenuity in clearing the puck twice on his own when the opportunity arose.  The 5-4 win was worse than Leaf goaltender Reimer deserved.  He was actually brilliant for much of the game.

Missing in action once again was Marty St. Louis who teamed with Stepan and Kreider had no goals – no assists – and a minus 1.  It’s been a month since Marty scored and there is real cause for concern now for the unrestricted free agent less than a month from the trade deadline.

By the numbers Talbot’s save percentage was 0.882 – another sub .900 game. 

Uh, A Little Help?  You want assists?  We got plenty.  Three for the unselfish Nash, who despite his 30+ goal season is happy to pass the puck.  If he ends up igniting Zuccarello – it’s great news for the Rangers.  2 assists each for Brassard and Staal.  Single assists for Klein, Moore, and Hagelin. 

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  No – Toronto was 1-2 on their powerplay – but we scored a shorty so a wash there.  Our powerplay was 0-2

Where Do We Stand?  31-16-5.  Looking down – the perennial 9th place Florida Panthers also won so we remain 8 points up on the line-of-death.  Looking up – we leapfrog the Caps into 3rd place in the east.  And we’re one point behind Pittsburgh for 2nd and 4 behind the Islanders for 1st (with 2 games at hand). 

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  The road trip continues Thursday night in Denver. 

Non Sequitur of the day:  Goalies with double letters in their names: 

Pekka Rinne
Tuukka Rask
Antti Nieme

Dave Pucks out – thanks for listening.

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