Rangers/Panthers Recap

December 31, 2011, by

In a game that could have been easily overlooked in the wake of the Winter Classic on Monday, the Rangers took it to the Panthers 4-1 in their final tune-up before heading to Philly.  After a rocky outing against the Caps, the Rangers bounced back and played a very smart game and grabbed a little momentum to take to Citizens Bank Park.  Onto the bullets…

  • The name of the game tonight for New York was the executing the little things.  For the most part, they got the puck deep, threw pucks at the net and created havoc in the offensive zone.  Defensively, they used the boards well, blocked shots and didn’t give allow the forecheck to lure the play into the middle of the ice.
  • Scott Clemmensen had a rough game tonight, but the Rangers’ goals weren’t of the soft variety.  They made quite a few great first passes out of the defensive zone that lead to quality offensive chances.  Jose Theodore played much better in relief, but at that point the game was pretty well in hand.
  • Another solid defensive showing for this overachieving blue line.   The defense did a great job keeping pucks to the outside and although Hank was somewhat busy, most of the shots came from bad angles. Stralman in particular had a strong game, and although Stu Bickel has been a bit of a punching bag since his call up, he has played incredibly smart, simple defense.  McDonagh does look a bit tired to me, but continues to play well.  If Staal can come back at some point in the near future, McD can get his minutes back to a reasonable level and should be better rested for the stretch run this season.
  • For all the (deserved) praise the GAS line has gotten so far this season, the newly formed Hagelin-Richards-Callahan trio has been just as impressive.  They were the best line on the ice tonight and have been getting better with each game.  Hagelin has a tremendous hockey IQ and his speed has been a weapon since day 1.  Each one of these guys has a completely different skill set, but they play off each other incredibly well.
  • Continuing the theme, Michael Del Zotto is probably playing the best stretch of hockey I’ve ever seen out of him.  He is making the simple plays and not overextending himself.  He is playing physical and jumping into the offense at the correct times/places.   His continued development will be huge going forward and he is clearly playing with a lot of confidence and Torts is rewarding him with ice time in a variety of situations.
  • Brandon Dubinsky quietly has 5 points in his past 5 games.  I’m not sure I’m completely sold that he has fully turned his season around, but it’s a huge step in the right direction.  His goal tonight was a fantastic individual effort.
  • Nice to see Richards play a solid game after a couple of rough outings.
  • Henrik Lundqvist.  Best goalie on the planet.
  • I’m not sure what was more entertaining to me tonight; the Panthers growl or Tort’s tie (it looked like an early 80’s couch).

After months of anticipation, HBO cameras and uniform drama, the Winter Classic is finally here.  Hopefully the Rangers can stay focused and play their game.  Wouldn’t we all love to see Glen Sather’s press-conference declaration become a reality?


  1. Chris F says:

    No mention of the Kopecky incident?

    I think this whole thing is going to flare up into something major Thursday when Rangers play Panthers again.

    Sure, Del Zotto cross-checked Kopecky, and it was high. But this was after Kopecky cross-checked DZ with 7 seconds left, down 3 goals. Clearly, he wasn’t jockeying for net presence, the game is over. He was instigating. DZ responded, and then turned back to the play. This is when Kopecky sucker punched him. I’m happy to see Rupp jump in and pummel the top of Kopecky’s head.

    For some odd reason, though, the Panthers seem to think DZ started the whole thing and that Rupp jumped Kopecky for no reason.

    Says Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen: “Some guy crosschecks you in the back he deserves a smash in the face. He got what he deserved and then guys that play five minutes a night, that’s typical they go out there and grab one of our skilled players…”

    Panthers enforcer Krystopher Barch: “I’m sure we’ll have a meeting next week in New York, You can’t allow that stuff to happen. … That’s just not allowed to go on in terms of a teammate getting jumped like that. We’ll take care of that next week.”

    Are these jack@sses serious? Did they watch the same incident?

    Well, see ya Thursday.

    • Justin says:

      Agree 100%, Del Zotto was making Kopecky pay the price for position in front of the net. He was clearly frustrated and suckered DelZo, leading to the scrum. I thought the Rangers handled it well, Rupp in particular. I guess I’ve just seen these end of the game scrums so many times I didn’t think it needed to go beyond what it was.

      I’d be very surprised if anything came of it next week, a lot of smoke blowing for a team that has been dismantled by the Rangers twice in the past couple weeks. Seems they were looking for some straws to grasp in the post game presser.

  2. Walt says:

    Good game last night, and wonderful response by Rupp!

    MDZ cross check the Panther player, and the stick came up high, no dought. The reaction was chicken sh*t, and Rupp let him know in no uncertain terms!

    Next week there may be a continuation of these festivities, and maybe we should bring up Devenoux from the Whale to help celebrate a little. If they want to start this garbage, lets try to accommidate. Personally, I think that is also going to be the case on Monday, against Filthadelphia.

    Happy New Year to all!!!!!

  3. Joe says:

    Bickel a punching Bag?? really? He got Jumped by Haley. He did a good job when he fought Martin and has been hitting? I really have to disagree there. Except for not talking about the last minute scrap, I think you did a good job

    • Justin says:

      Joe, I probably should have been more clear with that point. I meant Bickel has been a punching bag from a purely physical standpoint, not that he hasn’t held his own. He has played a nice physical game, but he has been on the wrong end of some nasty hits and Haley’s right hand.

      He has done a fantastic job filling in and just had some bad luck when he’s been on the receiving end.

  4. ranger44 says:

    Our bottom line forwards need to step it up. Rupp is awful. And i’d rather watch Prust fight because he fights ANYONE. Rupp is all picky

    • Blueshirt in Paris says:

      Prust should take some lessons from that. He obliges more than he should. Rupp is right to turn down fights when it wont help the team.

      • VinceR says:

        Agreed, it’s not about “balls”, it’s about doing things in the right situation. Fighting so much that you are hurt and not as effective doesn’t help the team. Neither does sparking the other team with a fight for no reason when you have a three goal lead (like Dubi doing the smart thing and walking away earlier in the game).

        What Rupp did last night was perfect, standing up for the team. Also as 24/7 showed, not fighting Jody Shelley because he was “inconsequential to the game”.

  5. The suit says:

    Great write up as usual Justin. Good to see Rupp standing up for his teammates. Thats why he is on this team.