Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Rangers Beat the Best - stopping Nashville 4-1 to reclaim 1st Place!

With the trade deadline jitters behind them – the Rangers resumed their season with joy and determination.  Joy that Mats Zuccarello was still on the team.  And determination to go for a Stanley Cup that Ranger Management clearly think they have a real shot at.  Otherwise they would never have given up possible future star Anthony Duclair and first and second round draft picks for Keith Yandel – offensive defenseman, two time all star and the NHL’s leading point scorer on the powerplay.
So the time is now and the Rangers know it and reacted well to it.  They took on the top point team in hockey and pretty much outplayed them for 60 minutes, outshooting them 40 to 26 and beating them 4-1 with Cam Talbot in goal. 

Marc Staal got the scoring started in the first – grabbing a pass probably meant for Nash and finishing for the 1-0 lead.  The Ranger limited Nashville to 6 shots in the first and Cam handled them all.  On to the 2nd:

Zuccarello from the right corner made a perfect pass through traffic to a wide open Chris Kreider streaking to the net.  He beat Pekka Rinne (that’s two sets of double letters) and it was 2-0.  The Predators did get one back at 15:24 and we went to the third up 2-1.
In third it was Moore (and we no longer have to explain its Dominic – John Moore is no more) pouncing on a rebound off a Girardi blast and sweeping the puck toward the net.  Rinne got a stick on it – but it trickled through in slow motion and we were 3-1.  And the final goal was an empty netter by Rick Nash for the 4-1 win.

Yandle, who woke up in Arizona and found himself in a Ranger uniform the same day, played nearly 20 minutes and looked good despite the -1 plus-minus.  He moved the puck well and provided some organization and skill to our power play.  He was paired at different times with Klein and Boyle. 

What Did We Learn?  This is a defensive six that is the best the Rangers have ever had and maybe the best in the league.  I mean, if Staal is now a number 5 defenseman – is anyone else’s number 5 even remotely close to his skill level?  And so, without overworking anyone – we were able to put high quality defensive pairings out there for a full 60 minutes and keep a great tram like Nashville from really testing our back up goaltender.  There’s lots of hockey left to play – but the results so far are very encouraging.

Uh, A Little Help?  Assists?  A pair for the revitalized Mats Zuccarello – who gave up at least some possible personal gain to remain a Ranger.  And a pair for Brassard.  Single assists for:  Girardi, Glass, and Klein.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Yes and no.  We were -0-1 on the powerplay – but our aggressive Penalty Kill kept the Predators from scoring in three attempts.    

Where Do We Stand?  It’s good.  It’s very good.  39-17-6.  84 points.  FIRST PLACE in the Metro – tied with the Islanders with 2 games at hand.  8-1-1 in our last 10.    3 points up on the Penguins.  And a full 15 points up on the 9th place Panthers with 20 games to play.

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Wednesday we go to Detroit to take on the Redwings. 

Non-Sequitur of the day:  Do you think Ranger analyst Dave Maloney was involved when Sather pulled off the trade with his brother Don Maloney – the Coyote’s GM?

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