The Pittsburgh Penguins were without their superstar on Friday night but thankfully the very best of the Blueshirts was in attendance. Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves to shut down the Crosby-less waddlers in their own building, with only one shot slipping through his diligent guard.
As my friend Interface Eric txted, "No Crosbaby = no tilted ice. Refreshing." After all of those games in Pittsburgh where the team was automatically behind the eight ball, it was nice not to spend the game shorthanded - even if it seemed that way at times. The Rangers were outclassed at the outset and through several stretches of the second and third periods.
And yet, they won. Again.
This one took a stellar effort from the King and one of Tortorella's typical time-out tantrums. After Lovejoy danced into the slot and slid the puck through Hank's legs, Torts asked for his break and went on a rant. It tightened up the team a bit, enough that the game didn't spiral out of control and eventually they were able to tie it up and go on to take the lead. It has been a worry for a while - that the horses will tire of the whip - but it is working now so let's just hope it lasts.
*Think James Neal is going to have nightmares of Henrik's glove or what?
*Hank was his Vezina self but it certainly also helped that 13 of the 18 skaters recorded blocked shots. Remarkably Prust and Boyle were two of the five that did not get credited with a single block.
*Was that Cally to Dubi shortie sexy or what?
*Many are raving about the Richards signing now but now I, at least not yet. My criteria remains a Cup within the first three seasons of his deal, nothing less. Was he dominant in the faceoff circle? Did he score the all-important game-tying goal? Yes. But a guy of his stature is supposed to have some small successes. It is the big one that I want.
*Kneeing? Really? The refs called Mike F-ing Rupp for kneeing on his collision with Jordan Staal. Let's face it, that was not kneeing. That was an exhibition of Rupp's low level of skating ability.
*Our Staal? Not yet back to being our Staal again. Marc's timing and positioning are still off, as expected. Not sure how much chemistry he has with Stuuuuuuu Bickel too but with Marc saying how Stuuuuuuuu's chatter has been helpful, the pairing will stick for the near future.
*Wasn't happy with Del Zaster - as per usual - and was largely disappointed by McD. The former Badger made a good play getting the puck on net on the Richards goal but he just doesn't seem to be the same player that he was earlier this season. Perhaps Marc's continuing improvement and growing minutes will help McD return to form.
*Step and Arty both had their best games in the last little while. Step struck for his second goal in his last 12 games, getting the gimme goal after Gabby hit the post on Fleury's fan. Arty extended an eight game goal drought but he was still involved and even hit the iron once.
*John Mitchell has quietly been quite the solid citizen. I thought acquiring him was a good deal when it happened but for Hartford's sake, certainly not Broadway's. That being said, saddling him with Prust and Rupp limits his potential impact - we saw how good he could be when he first came up, skating alongside Young Carl.
*Wow the Penguins broadcasters are awful - it was like two Micheletti's in the booth at once. Just awful.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Ben Lovejoy - one goal.
2-Brandon Dubinsky - one goal and one assist.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 37 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Dubi - He is definitely rounding into form, showing that hard work and determination pays off.
2-Richards - You need to win faceoffs to control the game and he won 18 of 23. He got lucky that McD's shot ricocheted off of Dubi over to him but he was in the right spot at the right time - and it was on a play that he started with a successful draw.
1-Henke - Sabres netminder Jhonas Enroth tweeted it during the Winter Classic - "#givehimthevezinaallready!!!"