Friday, March 1, 2013

9-8-2: Rick's Return

The Blueshirts' victory on Thursday night is truly hard to judge. Was it Rick Nash's presence that suddenly spurred togetherness? Was it the lack of a goaltender in the Lightning net? Was it the team simply rebounding from a bad loss by beating a bad Bolts side? It is probably all of the above, to some degree.

Nash was an offensive force all evening, shooting the puck and carrying it through some tough spots on the ice to lead the Rangers to two dominating periods on their way to a 4-1 win. Why they didn't dominate for three, well, that is probably the coach's fault. As per usual they took a lead and tried to sit on it; luckily the luckless Lightning couldn't break through Hank to make a game of it. But that's an old rant best saved for another time.

The Bolts - losers of three of their prior four and six of nine - stumbled around and looked amateurish at times. As in the previous Ranger win against them, Mathieu Garon gave up some atrocious goals and had little help from his hapless defenders. It is just a shame that this was the third and final time these teams will meet this season, because the Blueshirts could use more points in the ever-tightening Eastern Conference playoff race.

Late Hits:

*Love that Carl Hagelin scored - BORK! He has seven goals this season, three against Tampa. But, more interestingly, he seemed to prove my Anisimov theory from last game that he needs someone bigger/stronger/better to make him a better player. The kid has a confidence when playing with Nash that he hasn't had with anyone other than John Mitchell (when they were first called up last year).

*Even Brad Richard$ looked like he cared in this one. Or, at least, his blind passes worked out because Nash was in the right spots at the right times. Credit definitely due for his work inside the circles, he dominated at the dot all night. Final count? Seventeen of 20 faceoffs. Wow.

*How bad was Tampa? They gave up a power play goal to the Rangers. That bad.

*If Stuuuuu-pid is willing to fight for no reason when his team is up 2-0, why wasn't he willing to fight when they were down 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 to Montreal with the Canadiens taking out his teammates?

*Like Nash, Del Zaster returned and was back to his usual ways: four minutes of wasted power play time. The benefit of being at home was that Torts was able to match lines and keep DZ on the bench when Tampa put Stamkos, St. Louis and Conacher on the ice. The only time in the first two periods that DZ faced his old friend Stamkos? Seconds before Stamkos set up the Lightning's lone goal.

*Not that the Tampa tally was primarily DZ's fault. Nash couldn't keep the puck in the zone, then he lolligagged back down ice and let the elder statesman St. Louis blow right by him. But we're not paying Nash to play defense so whatever.

*Still saw some problems with Hank's game. He was not his steady self - he seemed to fight off the puck more often than not. But the Bolts couldn't take advantage, so hopefully it will be a confidence booster that will help the King regain his crown.

*Four minutes for Steve Eminger was too few. Yeah, I'm as surprised to be saying that as you are to read it, but it's true. He showed he can play solid puck, he should be given some more minutes to get in the flow. It would also help Staal and McDonagh, both of whom have had head injuries in the recent past and are being ground down by overuse already. Staal saw less than 24 minutes of ice time just once in his last 11 games and more than 26 eight times this year.

*Nice of Step to score on the night the Ryan O'Reilly saga comes to a close. O'Reilly's signing - with it's one year moratorium on a trade - means Step has at least one year to prove he can be a consistant No. 2 center. It was good for him to get a goal, but he was just lurking about and capitalized on captain Callahan's excellent work.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Carl Hagelin - one goal.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 24 saves.
1-Ryan Callahan - one assist.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Staal - Not only did he score a goal thanks to his willingness to pinch and some serious persistance, but Staal also helped Girardi keep that Stamkos line quiet.
2-McDonagh - Mac's transition game was something the Rangers were sorely lacking. His neutral zone passes set up Hagelin and Nash's goals and he was his usual solid self in his own end.
1-Nash - Not sure what it is about him, but the Rangers certainly responded to his return.

1 comment:

Pete said...

I know what it is about Nash; He's awesome. Embrace it. ;)