The Rangers avenged their 2-1 shootout loss to the Ducks in Stockholm with a 2-1 shootout win in the Garden on Thursday.
The two games were quite similar - virtually devoid of intensity and action. Hank, who made 27 saves in each, was beat by Bobby Ryan in the first shootout and stopped him in the second. There were a few minutes of outstanding hockey in both but the rest was drek with the teams more than willing to play for the free point. In Stockholm the Swedish crowd was quietly polite and tame while in MSG the crowd was just plain quiet outside of the awfully incessant Potvin Sucks whistles.
It wasn't particularly entertaining but at least it is out of the way. And it could prove to be important as the Rangers came away with three of four points against their west coast foes. Seeing it will be hard to escape with a lot of points against the Atlantic rivals, these could be the ones that make the difference between eighth and ninth place. You have to look at the big picture when the small one was so hard to watch.
Just a few Late Hits as this is already a day late:
*Nice timing for Jeff Woywitka to have his best performance on a day when the Rangers supposedly signed Anton Stralman - his replacement. Not only did
*Del Zaster's failings makes seeing Cam Fowler do so well hurt that much more. MDZ seems to get walked around at least once every game and most of his passes are off by just enough to not help his teammate.
*Woywitka scores and Andre Deveaux immediately gave the Ducks a perfect opportunity to get re-energized by battling George Parros (who definitely didn't look right without the 'stache, even if it is for a good cause). It was impressive to see the minor leaguer absorb a lot of damage and stay upright but there really was no reason for a staged fight seconds after his team landed a punch on the scoreboard. As upsetting as the dance was, Deveaux was actually decent yet again. He does what Boyle doesn't, he uses his size well. But we could hardly see it because Torts strapped him to the bench as he tried (unsuccessfully) to have his team cling to the lead. So much for that whole 'safe is death' nonsense the coach used to spout.
*Really unsure why he would be so reluctant to let his team off the leash given how great Hank can be. The King was outstanding in this one and the one goal against was A-scored through a screen and B-scored on a shot that maybe a dozen NHLers can make.
*Is Ryan exciting to watch or what? Damn New Jersey-ite.
*Is it fate? Avery gets called up and Tortorella loses his one excuse to keep him out of the lineup when Wolski came up lame? Good thing Wojtek has his undeserved $3.8 million to find something to do while his groin heals.
*Derek Stepan seems to be getting into a groove. Slowly but surely he is climbing out of the sophomore-season opening slump and, frankly, is making Brandon Dubinsky look bad. As mentioned before in this space, it seems like Callahan is skating by himself much of the time.
*Erik Christensen finally came through, improving to 1-3 in the shootout this season. I guess we go by baseball where a .333 average is a good thing. Really worthwhile member of the roster.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Marian Gaborik - one assist.
2-Jonas Hiller - 24 saves.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 27 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Stepan - Gabby did score in the shootout and fired a slew of pucks on goal but Step really seemed like a bigger offensive threat throughout the night. And Gabby got an assist on Woywitka's goal but if Hiller wasn't preoccupied by Stepan skating through the crease the shot might not have gone in.
2-Hiller - Sure four shots got through him (two shootout goals, Woywitka's tally and another that went through his legs), but the Swiss stopper made that great glove save on I forget who.
1-Hank - The King comes through again. Long live the King, as long as he learns to stay in his damned crease.