After the Rangers' 4-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes tonight, I asked a few friends if they thought that this game would mark a turning point. You know, bounce back from two bad, bad, bad, bad, bad losses with a win in front of the home crowd ... well, as Mr. X from the Blue Seats pointed out, there are no turning points in November and I would have to agree.
It was a nice victory but, let's face it, they were playing an opponent from another conference and could have easily lost if not for some brilliant play by Henrik Lundqvist.
*Scott Gomez may have won an outrageous 19 faceoffs in his return from
*Gomez may have taken back his A, but Blair Betts had an incredible game without it. Betts was his usual solid citizen in the Ranger end and had several good scoring chances - capitalizing on one sweeeeeeeeeeet goal to tie the game at one.
*Nik Zherdev set Bettsy up with a pretty pass and I will ruin the surprise now and say he was the first star of the game. Zherdev flashed the game-breaking skills that we had hoped for when he was acquired. He handled the puck with ease, he made tape-to-tape passes, he took good shots and he was defensively responsible. Now if he could only do all of these things on any kind of consistent basis we would be set.
*Consistency is also a quality that Brandon Dubinsky needs to acquire. Dubi played with some strength and went hard to the net to force play and get some chances. He also got his ass kicked by Daniel Carcillo (and I may be mistaken but I thought I heard Carcillo actually laughing) but we won't talk about that.
*Dubi looked good between Zherdev and Markus Naslund, who subbed on that line since Aaron Voros has firmly entered Chateau Bow Wow. Voros played with Dan Fritsche and Lauri Korpikoski, a criminal waste of Korpikoski's growing talent ...
*There is few things as impressive as the growth that Marc Staal is showing every game. He is getting stronger, he is learning his responsibilities and how to deal with various situations and, most importantly, he is getting more confident - especially when he has the puck on his stick. At this rate, he should have a Norris Trophy in five to seven years.
*As for the two guys who are getting paid as if they were Norris winners, Michal Rozsival was his now-typical terrible self while Wade Redden had one of his best games as a Ranger. Helping him was yet another good game by Dan Girardi, who scored on a seeing-eye slapper from the point on the power play.
*Shane Doan is one helluva hockey player. He does it all for Phoenix and wears the captaincy well for a young team that can look to him for an example of hard work paying off.
*Ed Jovanovski blocked five shots. This is the same injury-riddled Jovocop that dominated on the Florida blueline once upon a time. Guess the old horse isn't ready for the glue factory just yet.
*Speaking of the elderly, who knew Ken Klee was still in the NHL??? I didn't ...
*Hey Peter Mueller, pick up the phone because Team USA is calling. They want your equipment order for Vancouver 2010. This kid is one great young talent and he was made in the U.S. to boot!! The thought of him skating with Pat Kane makes me proud to be an American.
*Side note on the Yotes: they released their third jerseys the other day. I don't particularly like them and was talking with a friend about how cool it would have been if they had made it blue, red and white like the old Winnipeg Jets jerseys with the moon logo in the middle.
*Instead of playing the Rangers' Victory Song, the Garden played Sweet Caroline after the final buzzer. Heresy!
*Spotted in section 71: a Patrick Rissmiller jersey. But why? What could possibly possess someone? Was it his dad or something ... ???
*Stat of the game: Ryan Callahan had seven hits. The new Little Ball of Hate has been doing quite well of late and is probably the most fun Ranger to watch shift to shift because you know he is leaving it all out on the ice.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Brandon Dubinsky - Gordie Howe hat trick.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 35 saves.
1-Nikolai Zherdev - three assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Blair Betts - With or without the A, Betts is a leader on the Rangers and he played like it tonight. What a goal ...
2-Hank - After Lisin scored the first goal of the game - and a pretty one it was - the Blueshirts seemed more than willing to let Phoenix build upon their lead. Luckily Hank said no, he wasn't about to go down like that and stood on his head to keep the Rangers in it.
1-Zherdev - If he only played like this every game ... instead he has only displayed it two, maybe three times this season. If Tom Renney could get him to do it regularly, then hand that man the Jack Adams.