Saturday, March 14, 2015

Can we play Buffalo every night? Rangers beat Sabres 2-0

If you want to look at this by purely from a statistical standpoint – Henrik Lundqvist has been good this year – Cam Talbot has been better – and Mackenzie Skapski has been better still.  The Ranger rookie goalie has now played 119 minutes and 46 seconds of shutout hockey – defeating the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 to keep the Rangers’ on top of the Metro, the East, and the NHL.

The kid stopped all 20 shots that came his way – several of them quality saves.  Of course the Rangers helped by rallying around the young netminder in his 2nd ever NHL game – limiting a not-so-good Buffalo team to just 20 shots.

The contest was scoreless midway through the third period when Keith Yandle got his first goal as a Ranger on a hard shot from the point that was aided greatly by a Chris Kreider screen on Lindback. 

From there the Rangers held the lead.  There was a brilliant sequence with 5 minutes to go.  Zadorov was whistled for a delayed penalty – a hook against Kreider – while the Rangers kept possession of the puck.  They sent Skapski to the bench to get an extra skater on – knowing that the whistle would blow if the Sabres got the puck.  But here’s the cool part – instead of attacking right away - they deliberately delayed the action – keeping the puck away from Buffalo as time ticked off the clock.  It was more than 45 seconds before the Sabres could make a touch at 15:33.  And then the Rangers had the two minute powerplay.  When that ended there was less than 2 and a half minutes left.

The play that put the game away came in the final minute with the Sabre goalie on the bench.  Marty St. Louis made a great play – intercepting a cross ice pass in the neutral zone – and then shooting the puck from mid-ice into the empty net to put the game away with a 2-0 lead with 33 seconds to go. 

And so the Rangers roll on – once again topping the entire league.

What Did We Learn?  We learned that the Skapski can play well enough to beat Buffalo.

Uh, A Little Help?  There was just one assist tonight – a big one by Chris Kreider.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Another fail on the power play at 0 of r3.  But the penalty kill was a perfect 3-3

Where Do We Stand?  At the top!  43-17-7 for 93 points puts us in first overall.  We lead the Islanders by 3 points and 9th place Florida by 18 points with 15 games left to play. 

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  The Rangers travel due south from Buffalo to Florida to take on the Panthers Sunday.  At least Cam is rested. 

Non Sequitor of the Day:  Washington has fallen to 8th place in the East.   Wouldn't it be great if they could fall one more slot?

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