So this is what the new Rangers are going to be like, huh? The agony and ecstasy of Tortorella's end-to-end action replacing that slow feeling of dread that Tom Renney's Rangers so often made fans feel. Well, if the results are all like tonight's 4-2 win over the
*Credit to John Tortorella for testing Sean Avery. After Sean's lone moment of frustrated play - a stupid cross check that led to a penalty late in the third - Torts put Avery right back on the ice. The coach's confidence was rewarded with a strong shift where Avery pressed the Isles deep and made a clean hit. And that was pretty much what Avery gave all night long - he showed no signs of the layoff or AHL play. He simply was Sean Avery, without the sideshow. He showed speed, persistence and control while spewing a never-ending stream of words to goad the Isles. Welcome back Sean, we missed you!
*If only Chris Drury could play against the Islanders every game. Maybe a hypnotist could make him see Islander jerseys on every opponent or something. Dru came in to the game with eight points in five games against the orange and racked up two more tonight. He had an assist on Nazzy's late goal and put in a perfect power play goal of his own earlier on. It is amazing what can happen when you put just your head down and shoot.
*Having Dubinsky standing in front of Danis certainly helped. Dubi seems to step up his game against the Isles every time as well. He nearly set up Drury for a second second period goal with a short pass off the wall but Danis made a good save on Dru's backhand.
*After months of asking 'why won't the Rangers forecheck?' we finally are seeing the Blueshirts force the action and it paid off in the first goal of the night. One man went hard at the puck on the endboards, Nik Zherdev picked off a pass and an instant later snapped off a perfect shot flew through Danis. And his early third period pass to Gomez on the third goal? Good stuff. He was perfectly capable of playing like this all season long but only showed it in bursts. Let's hope this new-found motivation carries over for another 17 games and beyond.
*The other Nik, Antropov (aka Borat), showed just how he will be infuriating. On his second shift of the game, the 6'6 behemoth had a perfect chance to lay a hit down by the Islander bench to force a turnover and he pulled up - instead opting for a ineffective stick check. Why is it that the big players that the Rangers pick up end up being the softest? *cough cough, Malik, cough cough* Borat missed a wide open net early in the second period but made up for it with his neat little back pass to Drury on the Little Leaguer's goal.
*Derek Morris seemed to show off a tendency of throwing the puck through the slot, doing it multiple times over the course of the night. Not a good sign. For whatever it's worth, he did give a good intermission interview ...
*It certainly sounded like the south shore cesspool that is the Mausoleum was packed with Ranger fans. It is great for the Blueshirts but a disgrace for the Isles. That place - "Fort Neverlose" - used to be full to the gills with obnoxious bandwagon riders. And now? Potvin Sucks whistles and "Kan-sas Ci-ty" chants. I loved it!!!!! Too bad this was the last game against the Isles until next fall.
*Who says experience pays off? Radim Martinek made a perfect deflection on markus Naslund's broken stick shot and the Rangers went up 4-2. Martinek was one of just three Islander players who have been in the NHL more than 300 games on the Isles and his play, much like that of many of the Rangers, paled in comparison to the Bridgeport boys.
*It may not be cause for concern just yet but Marc Staal didn't look particularly good. he seemed out of position and outworked more often than not. We are used to seeing that from Rozy and Redden, but Staal needs to get his head put on straight. His partner, Dan Girardi was beaten on the Isles first goal but that was the only gaffe in what was a very strong night - maybe his best of the season.
*Colton Orr played a hard, smart game and ended up with nearly 10 minutes of ice time - his most since early January. Orrsie, Cally, Dubi and Avery all showed toughness and persistence pressing the Islanders into action. As I've always said, it pays to be proactive on the ice.
*Jesse Joensuu played quite well for the Islanders. He looked even better than Okposo and could turn into a real hockey player.
*The Rangers' Finn, Lauri Korpikoski, was on the ice for both goals against and seemed to be chasing the puck more often then not. He did, however, come to Avery's aid when Sean was clearly hit on the numbers by Trent Hunter.
*Think about how much better the Rangers would be if they gave Mark Streit the five year, $20.5 million deal instead of the six year, $39 million they gave to Wade Redden.
*Stat of the night: the official scorer awarded 75 hits between the two teams and the only Rangers to skate off without one were Zherdev and Lundqvist.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Blake Comeau - one goal and one assist.
2-Scott Gomez - one goal.
1-Chris Drury - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - Lundqvist certainly could and should have stopped both Islander goals. But when he needed to make saves - the two early odd man rushes, the third period press - he made them. A 28 save performance against a hungry young team is nothing to sniff at.
2-Z - Zherdev showed the hands, timing and instinct of an elite talent. Like we've all said every time he has played like this, if only he could do it every game!
1-Dru - Of all the Rangers, Drury seems to enjoy playing the Isles most. He has stepped up his play every time he faces them and get rewarded with points. Potvin Sucks!