Wherever he is, Chris Drury can rest assured that the members of his former franchise will have a happy holiday completely unruined by the taint of on-ice disappointment. On Friday the Rangers headed into the Christmas break on a high note by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 at the Garden.
The win pushed the team into first place of the Atlantic Division, a position unseen since the very start of the 2008-09 season I believe. These are merry times at MSG to be sure but the job is far, far, far away from being finished. It's time to have a happy holiday but that is it, there are still 49 games to go - more than half the season - and an awful lot can happen.
*Jaromir Jagr. BOOOOOOOOOOOO. It was surprising to hear the entire building boo the former Blueshirt, at least at the outset. And not even a montage during a commercial break to commemorate the former captain's NY career?
*Carl Hagelin has been incredible. Bork bork bork. As we have seen for years the Ranger franchise has had trouble trusting young forwards and yet there Hagelin is, playing in every situation and playing well. He has been making mistakes but his hard work and superhuman skating has allowed him to limit the implications of those errors. A question was posed tonight "who was the last forward to be called up from the minors who had this kind of impact?" Dubi and Cally certainly weren't as valuable as quickly. Doug Weight maybe?
*Del Zaster did every thing he could to get the Flyers back into the game late in the third period but they couldn't uphold their end of the bargain. He lost the puck in his own feet, he turned it over a few times, he blew his coverage and his inability to clear the puck allowed the Flyers to break Hank's hard-fought shutout bid. DZ carries the puck well up ice, to be sure, but in the Ranger end he simply knifes it (as Doc Emeric would say) - jabbing his stick at it like it is a bee hive or something. But he had two more assists (both secondary by the way) and was a +2 so his many defenders will ignore his utter atrocious work in his own end and rave about him some more.
*But, seeing as DZ is in the same breath as Leetch and Orr, then Stu Bickel also must be etching his name into the Norris Trophy as well. Three games, four assists, +4. Lidstrom who? But seriously Bickel has had a heck of a run since getting the call from Hartford, doing everything asked of him - defensive responsibility, smart first passes and physical play. Jeff Woywitka's impending return should very well force Tim Erixon back down to the Whale, because sending down Bickel is unthinkable given his current run. Truly hope he can keep it up and keep his place with the big club.
*And what a deflection by Derek Stepan to score the first goal of the game. Stu's shot was going wide but Stepan went all Little League to get his
*Seriously, what is running through the Rangers' heads when they get a two-man advantage? Given how they consistently screw the five-on-threes up, one would have to imagine that it is something like 'oh, yay, more time to be cute!' Cally's incredible goal aside, the power play has got to be better for this team to have sustained success.
*Early in the game the power play was struggling because there were two and at times three players below the goal line with no one in front of the crease. Captain Cally collected his PPG by doing what? Going right to the front of the crease.
*Television stations have assigned times to go to break and they need to fit the commercial inventory into the span of the hockey game but how could MSG hustle to break when Fedotenko's redirection was being reviewed? I saw the orange light go on and was shocked, feeling bad for the people at home. The folks in the Garden were of course kept from the replays until the judgement was made but the guys in the booth let the fans below them know it was indeed a good goal and the crowd began to roar.
*Funny moment in the first period: Rangers are down in shots 6-0 and then hit the crossbar. The puck comes out to center ice and they were given a shot on the scoreboard. The puck goes into their own end and they were awarded two more. So apparently hitting the iron once, which technically doesn't count as a shot on goal, counts as three regular shots. Ok then.
*Brandon Prust tangled with Marc-Andre Bourdon (who beat on Sean Avery earlier this year in the AHL). Prust clearly won the bout with a few late big rights but the highlight was him walking to the locker room high-fiving a kid. Seriously, he just destroyed his hands on Bourdon's helmet and visor but he still high-fived a kid. Awesomeness.
*Brian Boyle can't score, he can hardly pass, he is mediocre in the faceoff circle and he sure as hell can't fight. So what good is he? Aside from getting the ladies turned on by being naked on 24/7 ...
*Hey Mike Rupp, thanks for nothing!
*In the Isles wrap I pointed out that Fedotenko had no points in nine games. And then tonight he tipped in the Rangers' second goal on a good Stuuuuu shot. Hard work pays off kids.
*Nothing like taunting the opposing team with a "First Place!" chant only to have them score. Whoops.
*Have no problem admitting that I was wrong about John Mitchell. The former Leaf has really looked like a solid citizen so far this season.
*More Flyer fans than there were Islander fans the night before. Man are the Fishermen pathetic.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Brandon Dubinsky - one assist.
2-Stu Bickel - two assists.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 28 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cally - The Captain came through with a big goal to give the Ranges some breathing room.
2-Stuuuuuu - A half dozen hits and two shots that ended up in the back of the Flyer net. Not bad work for a guy who was in the ECHL not too long ago.
1-McD - Sure he needs to learn when to just shoot the puck and not try for a fancy pass but McDonagh was all over the ice in the this one.