Monday, March 16, 2015

Rangers Find A Way - Beat Panthers 2-1

Over the years I’ve watched when the Rangers played really good teams so I know what really good teams look like.  And now, somehow, the Rangers loom like a really good team.

What they did last night against the Florida Panthers, winning 2-1, is one of those things that really good teams do.  They found a way to win a game they were outplayed.

And they were totally outplayed – particularly in the 2nd period – but a Florida Panthers team in 9th place in the East and desperate for points.  Florida launched 98 attempts at the Ranger goal. 

And how did they win?  There were two big things the Rangers did that this year’s team had never done before. 

The first was Cam Talbot.  Cam has had shutouts before – and this wasn’t one of those.  But you can argue this was his best game as a Ranger.  Cam looked like Lundqvist.  There’s no other way to put it.  He was magnificent in goal – keeping the Rangers not only in the game – but ahead in the game despite the barrage of 39 Florida shots. 

And the other factor was amazing.  The Rangers found a way to block 36 shots.  This is more blocks than any game since the NHL started counting this stat ten years ago.  This is more blocks than any game we played under John Tortorella – the coaching king of the blocked shot.  It’s just not something that this year’s Rangers do – except that they did it last night because they needed to. 

They needed just two goals to win last night and they got them.  The first was a fabulous James Sheppard tip in off a Hunwick slapshot from the point.  Thank you Glen Sather.  Hunwick is a great 7th defenseman who was playing because of Klein’s injury.  And Sheppard was part of the Yandel deal.  Sheppard made a great pass to Hunwick to set up the shot – if you could get an assist on your own goal Sheppard would have one. 

And then in the third it was Hunwick’s slapshot again – this time beating Dan Ellis all by himself. 

It wasn’t much – 2 goals - but this year’s Rangers found a way to win with it.

On piece of bad news – Marty St. Louis appeared to hurt his knee.  But Vigneault said later it didn’t appear to be serious and that we’ll know more in a day or two.

What Did We Learn?  We learned that for one night at least Cam can be Hank.  And that the Rangers can block shots when they need to. 

Uh, A Little Help?  Assists for Fast, Hunwick, and Sheppard.  A night for the new and recently added Rangers.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  We were 0 for 2 and our PK was 2-2.  A wash.

Where Do We Stand?  Still number 1 in the league.  At the top!  95 points.  5 up on the Islanders with 3 at hand.

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Blackhawks at home on Wednesday.

Non-Sequitur of the day:  Please hockey gods – make Marty St. Louis okay.

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