The Rangers rebounded from the loss in Vancouver with a 4-2 win over the Oilers tonight in Edmonton. It is nice to play a team in more disarray than you are and even nicer to come out of it with a win.
The Blueshirts still took their usual slew of bad penalties, but without their big gun on the back line, Edmonton couldn't take advantage of them. Ales Kotalik did his best Sheldon Souray impression and the Rangers were the benefactors. The big (injured) Souray always slaughtered with his booming shot on the power play and Kotalik wielded his cannon just as well. First he just blew the puck through Twitchy's legs and then his hard blast trickled through and Gabby chipped it home. Playing on away ice you have to take advantage of what the home team gives you and the Rangers did that to win.
Some other stuff before an early bedtime:
*Chris Higgins took a few shots in the early going and my buddy Pete texted to say that "Higgs has a new-found confidence, eh?" to which I replied, "we'll see". Well, we did. His give-and-go with Gilroy was deftly finished with a shot shortside on Twitchy for the first goal of the night. Not bad, not bad at all. And you could see how he had that extra jump in his skates the rest of the game - let's hope he keeps it up.
*Now that Higs has snapped out of it, how long before Chris Drury does? Dru has been great on the penalty kills but can't win a faceoff for his life and can't score - he's become a lesser version of Blair Betts. But Dru wears the C and has an ungodly countract ...
*Fellow BU alum Hobey Gilroy was outstanding for another game. It is disgusting how good he and MDZ are playing compared to Redden and Rozy. The veterans are atrocious; Redden swung his purse at Mike Comrie, allowing Mrs. Duff to get his usual goal against us. Considering how well the kids are playing and how smart Staal and Girardi have been, you would think that the veterans would be shamed into being better. Guess their shame is blocked by their wallets.
*An actual interaction I had during the game with my buddy Eric: 'where is Arty? Boyle is getting all of his ice time.' 'no late edm goals please.' Twenty seconds go by and Arty's giveaway sets up Visnovsky's goal - one that Valley should have stopped. Damn goaltender didn't even flinch as the puck sailed over his shoulder.
*I thought Valley, overall, was mediocre. Like Andrew Raycroft in Vancouver, he gave up some bad rebounds but the defense in front of him did well to clear the puck. I thought he hardly moved around the crease, getting that massive frame in the way when he needed to. Maybe it was good positioning, maybe it was luck, but it was a win without Hank in the net and that's what we needed.
*Jason Strudwick, without a mustache, is funny looking.
*Those throwback Oiler uniforms were not. Classic design and sharp colours; glad they went back to them.
*Sean Avery needs to step up his game - especially heading into Sloppy Seconds Calgary. Avery looked lost out there on the fourth line; he simply does not belong with the grinders. Granted, he hasn't deserved much more of late, but how can he snap out of a slump playing alongside Brian Boyle and Aaron Voros?
*Voros ... well, we have to be thankful. His horrible play should ensure that Dane Byers gets another go. What a waste of a jersey. And I had such high hopes for him when he was signed last year; it's a damn shame that he is hardly a NHLer at this point, if at all.
*They say that the Edmonton ice is the nicest in the NHL and you could see how smooth it was in the reflection of the lights at the beginning of each period. It is far, far better than the MSG ice - skating on that two weeks ago you could feel the bumps and grooves.
*You know how the Rangers can best sell ticket plans? Point out that you don't have to listen to Micheletti if you are in the building. I hate away games, having to listen to Joe is just infuriating.
*I may be mistaken but I thought I heard him say that Edmonton picked up Dustin Penner as an unrestricted free agent. Notevenclose. Penner, btw, blew me away by having such great hands for someone his size. Too bad it seemed like he was the only Oiler out there playing hard.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Stephen Valiquette - 26 saves.
2-Patrick O'Sullivan - one assist.
1-Marian Gaborik - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Gilroy - Confident, intelligent and capable, Hobey has the skills to be a helluva player and is certainly showing the signs at this early stage.
2-Kotalik - How many times am I going to type this? What. A. Shot.
1-Ryan Callahan - Maybe we should stop calling him Cally and steal Pete Rose's 'Charlie Hustle' for him. Hard work and dedication pay off, that simple. Cally goes into the tough parts of the ice and pays the price to get the job done.