The main factor in this one was the goaltending: in the Ranger net was the Swedish King, the Devils an old Swedish sieve. Rick Nash broke a two-all tie with a softball past Hedberg, and Hank survived the siege over the remaining 32 minutes to turn the lead into two points. The King's kinda good, and he will have to keep it up until Richard$, Nash and Gaborik regain their skills and start scoring with some regularity (if they ever do).
I'm low on time so right into the Late Hits:
*The first few minutes were shaky but there were no penalties taken and no goals against. Definitely an improvement.
*As with Monday's game, the best Blueshirts were homegrown; the Stepan-Hagelin-Callahan line was outstanding. We need to come up with a good name for the tenacious trio, should Torts keep them together for any real length of time ...
*But, easy come, easy go. DZ had his first assist of the night when he kindly kicked the puck right to Travis Zajac to score the equalizer. The kid is decent on one side of the ice, subpar on the other. He has to be better on both.
*DZ's second assist was a feed through the neutral zone moments after Hank saved his bacon back in the Blueshirts' end. Nash adjusted to the wild pass to pick it up in stride and snapped it past Hedberg, who didn't even bother to move. He was quite like a soccer goalkeeper who stands still while someone blasts a kick past him from the penalty spot.
*I think Hedberg and Anton Volchenkov were the only ones on the ice not screening Hank on Volchenkov's equalizer.
*No fights, few hits, little physicality. There was some intensity as the Rangers went into their usual cling-to-the-lead shell but it didn't really feel like a rivalry game.
*A large factor for that was the smaller portion of Ranger fans inside the Rock. The Cup run last season clearly brought in a bandwagon full of fans. They're not the brightest - I'm unsure how many words they know aside from "sucks" - but they are far louder than the formerly usual fare in Newark. They loved to bellow "Mooooose" for Hedberg but not one knew why he was called that (he had a Manitoba Moose mask when he was called up by Pittsburgh years ago and the yinzers started calling him that).
*Those same fans ripped Hank for diving early in the second period. After I said, "oh, because you've never seen Brodeur dive," I realized that most have not - Fatso has hardly played this season.
*Hit. The. Net.
*The Rangers have to stop with Roman Hamrlik already. The team needed a defenseman, he was out there, the move made sense. But he is too old, too slow of skate and mind, his time is past. The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and surely someone better is out there.
*So glad David Clarkson and Adam Henrique were nonfactors.
*Dan Girardi had a big hand in negating that hated duo while playing half the damned game. If Sather can shore up the blueline with better defenders, Torts can cut Girardi's ice time so he won't be exhausted come playoff time - like he was last year.
*Brian Boyle has been atrocious. He is dragging Pyatt and Miller down, and that is a shame. At some point that oversized reclamation project needs to be scrapped - it had some moments of success but they have been few and far between for too long.
3-Travis Zajac - one goal.
2-Rick Nash - one goal.
1-Michael Del Zotto - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Zajac - For years he toiled in Parise's shadow but now that Zach chased the money to Minnesota, Zajac's all-around ability is more apparent.
2-Stepan - Another outstanding game by the Badger.
1-Lundqvist - The Devils had their opportunities but Hank shut them down. The two goals against were hardly his fault and he was a wall the rest of the night.