Thursday, April 18, 2013

22-17-4: Puttin' Down The Putty Tats

Before this season started, if someone said that the Rangers defeated the Florida Panthers 6-1 the comment would be met with a shrug and a smile. If someone said it before puck drop tonight, there would have been a far more dubious reaction.

After an alarming amount of underachievement, the Blueshirts got their game together and sent the cellar dwelling Panthers back to their den. The power play worked (early on, at least), Hank held down the fort and the offense took advantage of an awful Florida blueline to put up a six-pack. Even Brad Richard$ was able to contribute.

It was a much-needed decisive victory that earned two crucial points. Now the trick will be turning that into two more points tomorrow. Two of the three times the Rangers won the opening game of a back-to-back they lost the second. It will be the third game against Buffalo this season; they came from behind to win a shootout in the first and blew a 1-0 lead to fall 3-1 last time. If they can carry the momentum from tonight into First Niagara they have a good chance to go into Sunday's game against the Devils with some serious confidence.


Late Hits:

*What wonderful, rare sights they were to see, the Rangers holding their own blueline and carrying the puck down the ice. It was like Halley's Comet or something.

*How is it that five-foot-nothin' Mats Zuccarello is willing to crash the crease and make things happen and Clowe and Pyatt won't?

*As mentioned on Twitter, the injection of energy and ability that came with the re-signing of Zuke can not be understated. There was a dearth of skill up front and the revitalized Norwegian has played far, far beyond his stature. His second period goal, which arguably was the key to the game, came from his willingness to throw that little body around. Zuke forced a turnover with a hit and then planted himself in the slot. Clowe found him with a smart feed and, just like that, the Rangers were back in control.

*Another tweet: "Once Dorsett gets on the ice, this Gaborik trade could rival the Gomez deal." Brassard has been showing some of the ability that helped make him a top-10 draft pick and Moore has been more than I could have imagined. Add the grit and guile of Dorsett - and hopefully the benching of Asham to make room for him - this will be another outstanding steal by Sather. Even if Gabby lights it up for Columbus, there was no way he could have continued under Torts' reign of terror.

*Knew Brassard could skate but damn, what a release on his shot.

*Raved about Moore quite a bit of late and will do so again. His poise is beyond his years, his puck moving and skating is above average and he clearly can take care of himself. With your team up 3-1 in desperate need of a W is not the time to fight, but Moore took exception to Skille's hit and took care of business. It sends a message around the league that his baby face isn't about to be smacked around.

*Always nice to see Steven McDonald, although it is a bit curious they had his trophy ceremony with five games left, including two more at MSG. And congrats to Cally for capturing the extra effort honour. Even if he wasn't the most deserving - Step, G, Hank - the captain is never a bad choice.

*What does Torts really hope to achieve with his handling of Chris Kreider? Does he want to give him a sense of humility? Does he want to just screw with his head? Does he want to run him out of town? One shift in the second period, then bringing him back out in the third ... a player with cold legs isn't going to achieve all that much and is, frankly, a detriment to a team clinging to a lead.

*Heard Richard$ received the Broadway Hat, guess even his teammates were shocked he contributed. Hopefully he enjoys wearing that ratty chapeau so much he does it again tomorrow.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Mats Zuccarello - two goals.
2-Derick Brassard - two goals.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 34 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Hank - As usual, the King defends the castle himself.
2-Zuke - The pint-sized Scandinavian star had his hard work pay off again.
1-McDonald - The detective is a hero and, as usual, his stirring speech was inspirational.

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