Good morning, boneheads! Always nice to wake up after a win against the Devils.
And today we have another special treat. E3 with a game review! Thanks, Eddie!
This has been a strange year for our boys. After starting the season 1-5-2 and looking even worse than that record suggests, the Rangers were breathing down the NY Giants’ neck as to what NY team sucked the most. Calls to fire AV might have been rumor only but I joined the chorus and was ready for a change. Had the team tuned him out the way the Gmen were tuning out McApoo? I wasn’t especially thrilled with AV’s coaching in last year’s playoff loss to the Senators. Fast forward 21 games and how things have changed. While still not in a playoff position, it will only be a matter of time before they move up the standings especially if they play as well the rest of the season as they did last night in winning 5-2 against the NJ Devils.
I’d argue that this was their best regular season game in a long long time. The Rangers dominated the play the entire game and there wasn’t a shred of doubt that they’d come away with the two points even after the Devils made it 2-1 in the second. A tremendous effort in the offensive zone. With that, here’s my review.
1) It was nice to see Brian Boyle on the ice albeit in a Devil uniform. A solid player for the Rangers. He and Brandon Prust were a valuable part of many 4th lines for the Rangers and those two were very effective penalty killers. Who can forget Boyle’s game 5 shorty against the Kings in game 5 of the 2014 final?
2) Staying with the Devils for a moment, you got to like a few of the names on the NJD. Ben LoveJoy Division, wheel of fortunes Pat Sajak, those three musicians James Taylor Hall and Oats, Miles Wood, and the painter goalie Thomas Kink-aide.
3) On the blog I mentioned how often Nash seems to falling down and he didn’t disappoint in this game, as he was on his butt at 0:29 of the first.
4) The Gnasher – Hazy – VC line has not been good and I was happy to see that Fast replaced VC. AV might have struck gold with this switch and they just dominated most of the game.
5) I’ve been ragging on VC lately and then he scores a beautiful goal to open the game. Peek-a-boo made a great play in the corner to throw the puck out to Carey to touch passed to Jimmy V, who went high stick side on Kink-aide. A very nice play.
6) Turned out to be the first of many high stick side goals given up by the Kink. It’s curious that a goalie can give up 5 and yet play a spectacular game and yet he did. Rangers easily could have had at least 5 more.
7) Devils aren’t going far if they play this poorly going forward and the Rangers are going deep into June if they can play this well. Passes were crisp and clean all night.
8) Back to Jasper. Fast has really blossomed into a real good player. Always willing to throw the body, make the smart unselfish play, and do whatever was asked of him, he was a real liability in the offensive zone. True, he has historically shown good hands on tips and deflections and may be the best on the team in fact. But countless times I’ve seen him whiff on shots with an open net staring him in the face. Well, those days are over. He is now the team sniper. He is finishing like never before and scored a beauty high glove side off of a lovely back handed pass from Nash in the corner. Fast now has six goals in eight games. I just might get a #17 jersey. Maybe it was the number change from 19, but something has clicked and Fast is playing amazing hockey.
9) Vc’s goal was the only score in the first period that was all Rangers. The best first period in years. And certainly their best this season. Rangers have far too often been caught sleepwalking to start the game. Not tonight. Rangers jumped on the Devils early and often and even though both teams were playing the second game in a back-to-back, the Devils looked like they swam across the Hudson to get to the Garden. They didn’t play well. Whether the Devils were simply tired or the Rangers just suffocated them, bottom line was a convincing and easy win.
10) Crazy sequence in the middle of the second as Gibbons came hauling down the left wing, after Zook bungled a play at the Devil blue line, and launched a rocket that Hank saved but it trickled between his legs and was rolling slowly into the open net with Hank way out of position. And from nowhere Zook swooped in and captured the puck inches before going in which would have tied the score at one. Zook then threw it on the tape of a devil stick forcing Hank to make a monster save.
11) Have to give AV credit. The Rangers might have finally found their 4 lines. Kreider-Mika-Buch, Grabby-JT-Zucc, Gnash-Haze-Fast, Carey-Boo-VC. Nice balance and all 4 lines are a threat to score.
12) Zook scored to make it 3-1 off of a steal that reminded me of vintage Walt Frazier picking the pocket of Jerry West circa 1970. He broke in and went high stick side. Excellent steal and shot.
13) The Zook cross ice to Miller cross ice to Zook goal in the third was as sweet play as you could make. Both passes were tape to tape thru players. Very nice indeed.
14) Shatty is so patient with the puck. He really can move it and controls the play better than any QB they’ve had perhaps since Zubov and Leetch. Still a danger in his own end but that’s another story. Looks like he’s now their enforcer too.
15) Hank is back. He is playing well. Making big timely saves. There was, however, one Hank play in the second that could have ended badly. Hank had the puck about a third of the way up the blue line along the wall with a Devil closing in. He deked him, held the puck, and made a long cross ice pass. Whew.
16) Interesting stat was posted during the game which showed Hank as the all time league leader in Wins (35) GAA (1.75) and shutouts (8) lifetime vs the NJD team. That said, Debs have beaten Hank in two playoff series.
16) I like Boo. He was good in “To Kill A Mockingbird” and he’s good as a 4th line Center. Rangers have a nice balance of offense and defense on their 4 lines. I’m hopeful once again. The East is wide open. Rangers are right in the mix if they can escape their first period blahs and play like they did last night.
17) JoeM is truly the Master of the Obvious. You can almost expect him to say during one of these games “you know Sam (or John G), the team that scores the most goals will win the game.” Good lord.
18) Here’s hoping Mika heals up quickly and remains healthy…
My three stars :