The Rangers played a very strong game in another contest that could have easily been a letdown. The Panthers really hung around in this one behind some solid goaltending by Scott Clemmensen, but in the end, the Blueshirts were too much for Florida, winning 3-2 in overtime. Onto the bullets…
- It took the Rangers about 10 minutes during the first period to find their legs, but once that happened they really took it to the Panthers. There were long stretches during this game that I completely forgot Marty Biron was playing.
- The Rangers had a huge shots advantage in this one, outshooting the Cats 41-21. It could have been over 50 if the Rangers could just hit the net a little more. Obviously, to find major negatives with this team right now is nitpicking, but I just wish they would hit the net when they have a clear lane. Make the goalie work for it.
- The Dubi-Richards-Cally combo was the best line on the ice tonight. They were working down low and moving the puck well. It seemed like every time they were on the ice Clemmensen had to deal with a puck bouncing around his crease. Getting garbage to the net is a huge part of this unit’s game and as the Winter Classic confirms, it is quite effective when you can create that kind of havoc in front.
- Gabby was missing from about the first half of the game, but really came on in the third period and launched that beauty in overtime. Bad gap control by the Florida defenders on that one.
- I thought Prust, Fedotenko and Rupp all played tremendous games. Feds had all kinds of snarl in his performance tonight and Rupp and Prust showed some serious chemistry out there.
- One thing that played a huge role in the Rangers’ success tonight was the presence of an aggressive forecheck. Not only does this kind of pressure lead to turnovers and offensive zone chances, but it also tires out the Florida defenders and keeps the puck out of the Rangers’ defensive zone. It was the main reason the Panthers were held to 21 shots.
- Speaking of which, another very solid game for the defense.
- Marty Biron played a solid, if unspectacular game tonight. The first goal was a beauty, so no fault to Marty there. The second one, on the other hand, could have sent the momentum right back to Florida. He got caught leaning/thinking pass and got beat on a shot I’m quite sure he’d want back. Fortunately, the Rangers held it together and came away with a nice win. Biron plays such a stoic, calm game, it is sometimes difficult to appreciate him for how easy he makes difficult saves look. Nothing more you could ask from a backup.
- As I mentioned before, Clemmensen played a very solid game and controlled rebounds nicely. I would have loved to see the Rangers challenge him up high more, if nothing else just to change his eye level. He was the only reason this game made it to overtime.
- As for any potential bad blood after the Kopecky/Del Zotto incident from the last time the teams met, there was only one notable scrum during this one. Looks like both teams decided to let sleeping dogs lie.
Right back at to tomorrow as the Rangers travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins at 7pm.