A big thanks to Eddie Eddie Eddie for the review of last night’s game. I still need some help for tonight. Please let me know.
Eddie Eddie Eddie aka e3
Last summer we spent a few weeks in western Canada. I was wearing one of my Ranger sweatshirts as we landed in Calgary and I got some good natured ribbing from the customs officials. Nice city. Friendly and down to earth people. Driving up through the Canadian Rockies through Lake Louise and Banff, on our way to Hinton where we were visiting my wife’s best friend from graduate school, I was blown away by the natural beauty. Gorgeous county. As we might be going back this June, I hope Edmonton (if not the Sharks) and the Rangers meet in the finals. On to the game:
1) Tale of two teams heading in opposite directions. The Flames are in trouble and the talk in Calgary is not good. Cassie Campbell mentioned on the CBC feed that the Flames need to get away from the rink and regroup. No practice, no video, no nothing. The Rangers on the other hand are playing impressive hockey. Their last game against Vancouver, notwithstanding, this team looks like the real deal. It’s still early in the season but I anticipate a deep run come spring time.
2) The rangers began a bit slowly not getting a shot on goal for the first three or four minutes. Four days off might account for the slow start but I imagine AV impressed upon our boys that it was important to jump on the Flames early as they’ve been slow starters this season giving up a lot of first goals. Moreover, Calgary came in on a three game losing streak and are comfortably nestled in the bottom of the much weaker, this year anyway, Western Conference.
3) Rangers definitely benefitted from the time off as they had their legs and and were flying up and down the ice all game long. This Ranger team doesn’t just skate fast, but also they move the puck quickly. Almost as though they were playing hot potato with it, the puck didn’t stay on anybody’s stick very long this game Even Zucc, who I’ve been critical of (as have Bulldog and SN by the way) as preferring a half court offense to the up and down, north south, track meet that has become AV’s style since he became head coach, was pushing the pace.
4) Hank was not tested until late in the first (more on that later) as the Rangers Dmen were doing a terrific job getting to loose pucks and breaking up plays. All three pairs played a solid business like game. Brady Shay (sic) and Marc Staal looked especially strong in their own end. Staal had a lovely tip of a pass on a three on two in the first period braking up a tremendous scoring chance. Meanwhile, the ranger Captain has quietly regained the form of three years ago when he was being mentioned by some as a Norris candidate. McD looks so comfortable out there and his pass to VC for the third goal was a beauty. Danny Girardi also looked good tonight and if he is able to regain some of the what we saw yesteryear, there might not be any need to look to make a deal for a top 4 defenseman.
5) Is there any doubt that Carl Haglin has finally been replaced? Grabner is just as fast if not faster and has much better hands than Carl. That was a laser shot short side that beat Brian Elliot. Bad goal? I don’t think Elliot had a chance. Fast made a nice defensive play tipping the puck to Grabner and he was off like a shot out of a cannon. Motoring down the right wing, He blasted a well placed rocket high glove side and once again the Flames gave up the first goal, Rangers lead 1-0.
6) Later in the third Grabner hit a post. This guy has come in and has matched his skill set with AV’s system about as good as one could hope. Will he continue on this pace and look at a possible 40 goal season? Crazier things have happened.
7) THE Kreider announced himself in this game. Playing nearly as well as he did before the neck spasms, he was flying all night and his little give and go with Stepan was picture perfect. That was as pretty a play as I’ve seen from the Rangers this season. THE took the body on the wall allowing Step to take the puck, who gave
it to THE, who softly slid it over to Step for a clever little 2 on 1. Stepan buried it into a wide open net. Rangers lead 2-0.
8) Late in the first, Boosh threw a misguided pass across the ice in the offensive zone and it was intercepted. It quickly led to a long outlet pass to Johnny Hockey and he was off on a breakaway. Hank stoned him on his first and only test of the period. The King made several outstanding saves later in the game and looked sharp throughout. The only goal against came middle of the third ruining the King’s shutout. It was good see after the debacle last game when Raanta was ushered off by the league to sit in the quiet room in concussion protocol. Hank relieved and and gave up an immediate two run homer.
9) Speaking of which, If the league officials are going to force a goalie of the ice, the backup that night should be allowed plenty of time to warm up as is the case in baseball when a pitcher is hurt. In that case, the reliever gets as long as he deems necessary.
10) Early in the second, Ein Klein made a very high IQ play directly leading to the first Ranger power play. As the Flames appeared to think icing was going to be called. Klein grabbed the puck behind his net, looked over his shoulder and saw half the flame team on the ice. He threw the puck at the flame bench and it was impossible for the Flames to avoid a too many men penalty.
11) The Rangers’ 4th goal topped the Kreider to Stepan to Kreider to Stepan goal in terms of sheer beauty. From the left wing, Z threw a soft sweet centering pass to Zuuc who moved it just off his right side to Boosh who buried his 4th goal in as many games. Zucc has amazing vision as that was a beautiful pass.
12) Opportunistic is the word best describing the Rangers’ goal scoring so far this season. When the opponent has turned the puck over this season, the Rangers have made them pay. I hope it continues. I’m not sure I have ever seen so many goals on so few shots in my 46 years of watching this team. At some point, it will dry up and when it does Hank and Raanta are going to called upon to make big saves.
13) But if the D can continue pushing the pace and getting the puck up ice, and if the forwards can help out with the back check, winning games 3-2, 2-1 or 1-0 is just fine by me.
14) This team is special and I’m quite excited given my expectations coming into the season. How far can they go? We will see soon enough.
15) And it’s on to Edmonton and let’s win there.
My Three Stars: