I am not a believer. Not yet. It is simply too early. But damn, what a win. A visibly tired Rangers trumped the Kings 4-2 on Wednesday night for their sixth victory in a row. The Blueshirts didn't have the jump that Los Angeles did. They did have Henrik Lundqvist, and that made all the difference. The King shut down the Kings. Hank was huge from buzzer to buzzer and the Blueshirts offense didn't have too much trouble finding the holes in Erik Ersberg's armour.
*Ersberg wasn't bad - his rebound control was great early on - he just didn't win the game for Los Angeles. It is hard to say he lost it for them when they outshot the Rangers 10-1 in the third period and yet couldn't come back - but I'm sure he wants Gabby's goal back.
*Gabby's goal was his sixth of the young season and all of them came in the third period - a interesting stat that surely was mentioned on the broadcast as it was relayed to me by a half dozen people at the same time after his goal. It was a superstar's kind of goal too: take control of the puck with one hand, tempt the defenseman by moving slowly across the blue line and then kick it into that other gear before rifling a shot into the net. He's good. He's really good.
*And so is Hank. That awesome save on Teddy Purcell right after the first Ranger goal was a thing of beauty. And the rest of the game he was the cool, collected rock in net. He could hardly be faulted on the Ryan Smyth goal and the power play goal against was a deflection as well.
*You would think that Torts and his staff would do something (anything) to try to get some protection for Hank. Smyth was allowed to hang out around the slot and Hank was ran a few times yet again. Between the contact in the Leafs game and tonight, it is a good thing that the Rangers are off until Saturday so he can nurse his bruises.
*The official scorer should be given more than a little time off. It was hugely annoying to hear them announce corrected scorings for almost all of the goals. The Garden takes forever to announce the scoring as is, the least you can do is get it right.
*Did anyone else get a pain in the pit of their stomach when Sean Avery went off in the third period? Avery wasn't a huge factor against his former team but he is still a huge part of this team and needs to stay healthy and in the lineup. As my friend Andrea pointed out, the MSG promo with him (In your face, on the scoreboard) is a great one of the Grate One.
*Torts has been laying down the law pretty hard lately - MSG caught a rant on the bench during a second period tv timeout - which brings up the question, how long will the Rangers listen?
*To the NHL,
Please let me score. Pretty please? I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me.
*I'm not sure anyone likes Michal Rozsival anymore. The only thing saving him from being booed every time he touches the puck is the huge level of suckitude exhibited by Wade Redden. After Torts came out and raved about Redden after his three point performance against the Leafs (a team that is neck and neck with Redden in terms of disappointing the fans), the defenseman had a horrific game. Bad turnovers, bad positioning, bad decisions ... Torts had to blow his timeout in the second period for no other reason than Redden moronically icing the puck despite being under no pressure whatsoever. That the two are paired together on the penalty kill is just offensive to me. Sure Torts doesn't have much of a choice but if they can use to forwards and one defenseman on 5-on-3s, they could go three and one on a regular kill too, right?
*Without the signing of a seventh defenseman, you can pretty much be sure that MDZ will be here past the 10th game this season. The kid netted a pair of assists and certainly has carved out a position as a power play specialist. It is a great spot for him to be in as he develops his game - less defensive responsibility and more talent to pass to. Hobey Gilroy, on the other hand, has been thrown right into the fire and has had his ups and downs. Mistakes have been made but they haven't ended up in the back of the net so that's a plus.
*Also a plus was that Brian Boyle got a goal against his old team. More power to him. But I think he needs some kind of mirror system or something so he can find all of those pucks that get lost in his feet.
*Donald Brashear can get lost. He wasn't missed. L.A.'s resident Neanderthal Ivanans took a bad penalty early on and hardly played the rest of the way. The only fisticuffs was a silly fight between Aaron Voros and Sean O'Donnell right after Boyle scored. Voros managed to not block that many punches with his face but it had to be ruled a draw at best.
*After the Rangers get through the Leafs/Sharks/Devils, perhaps they will consider benching both Voros and Brash. They will have the Habs/Yotes/Isles on the slate and the lack of a tough guy won't necessarily hurt them. They could bring up Geno Grachev again and give him a shot on the ice - Lisin and Arty certainly seem to be missing his presence. They don't have much chemistry with Avery or Kotalik so if one personnel move can get you three players back in return, why wouldn't you?
*I ragged on Kotalik during the game but re-watching the match on Rewind I have to admit that he wasn't that bad. Alice still has his troubles but his effort (and his shot) can not be denied.
*The MSG "talent" (and I use that word loosely when Micheletti is involved) have said a few times that Team USA could/should just utilize the Rangers second line of Cally, Higgins and Drury. While I will not refute the merit of that, the thought of seeing Cally playing across from L.A.'s Dustin Brown is quite tantalizing.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Marian Gaborik - one goal.
2-Vinny Prospal - two goals and one assist.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 34 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cally - He doesn't take a shift off. His hard work gave Prospal his second goal of the game and he simply never stopped going to the net.
2-Gabby - I knew he was a great player but the things he does are just incredible. I was quite perturbed when Torts put him on the penalty kill but Gabby proved that was quite capable of playing in all situations. And, as I said when he scored, 'wow!'
1-Hank - The King showed that L.A. were just pretenders to the thrown.