Sunday, January 15, 2012
28-10-4: Blowing Away The Leafs
The New York Rangers rebounded from their 3-0 loss to Ottawa on Thursday with a 3-0 win over the other Ontario team - the Toronto Maple Leafs - on Saturday. It was nice to see them shake off the stench of the Sens failure with a victory.
They are in first in the NHL and, according to the AP, are on pace for the best season in franchise history.
That being said, they beat an over-hyped, utterly exhausted team missing their top center. To the Blueshirts credit, they hit everything that moved early and helped grind the rest of the life out of the Leafs, setting up a strong second period. There is still much work to be done, as was blatantly apparent after watching Wings/Hawks earlier in the day.
*Few goals this season have been as pretty as the first tally of the night by Mike F-ing Rupp. Step, Wolski and Rupp made Cody Franson look stupid, the monkey in the middle as they passed the puck around before beating Gustavsson. What a highlight. Mike F-ing Rupp. Again. Unreal.
*Have to admit loving his work in front of the paint on the power play - doing exactly what Boyle should have been doing for the last few years.
*Called out Rupp on Twitter ahead of the Winter Classic and he scored two goals outdoors. Called out Boyle in this space after last game, and he scored against Toronto. Didn't see much change in Boyle's quality of play but his luck certainly improved - Franson perfectly screened Gustavsson, allowing his hail mary shot from the circle in. But sometimes it takes some help to get out of a slump and Boyle got it. On the other side of the coin, his hit on Kessel in the first period was one of the most awkward things I've seen in the NHL this season.
*It could have been a totally different result if Kessel's redirection hadn't hit the post late in the second period. Instead the American rang one off the iron and Boyle scored two minutes later to go up 2-0. That's the way the puck bounces I guess.
*The Ranger power play remained incompetent.
*Brad Richards remained heartbroken. At least he played like he was. He had three giveaways and he attempted five shots - one missed the net and four were blocked.
*Dan Girardi had his hands full with Kessel and skated a game-high 28:40 - six minutes more than any other Ranger. What happens when the Blueshirts play against a team with more than one line? Will he play all 60? This is getting ridiculous.
*Del Zaster was playing in his hometown but he certainly did not step up his game. He was beaten to the puck, he was caught watching the play and his hits did little to stop the opposing attack (for those demanding examples, watch him with five minutes left in the first period). All of that would be acceptable if he did something on the other end of the ice but he was largely ineffective. Again. Six games with just one assist despite 14 minutes of power play time. Fourteen. Thankfully the Rangers still won five of the six ... Credit is due to the kid for holding the blue line on the power play at the beginning of the second period - it was a really play.
*Anton Stralman had quite a good game. Bet that shocked those Leaf fans that remembered him as a Buds blueliner.
*Saw Biron get bumped more than once. With no retribution. Unacceptable.
*Paging Artem Anisimov ...
*There is surely more but Montreal is looming. Let's hope Henrik doesn't have his typical game at the Bell Centre.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Brandon Prust - one assist.
2-Marty Biron - 20 saves.
1-Derek Stepan - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cally - The captain was all over the ice.
2-Prust - One of his best games in weeks and it didn't require him to fight in the first two minutes.
1-Step - Great game by the Badger.