On the heels of an emotional win over the Devils, the Rangers went out and defeated the Detroit Red Wings on the back of birthday boy Ryan Callahan. What started off as a slow-paced game, gained steam as the night wore on and ended in fireworks when Cally ripped a shot from the high slot to secure a 2-1 victory in overtime.
On to the notes from the game…
The game started off pretty quietly as both teams were trying to figure each other out tactically. This was the first time I’ve had an extended look at the Red Wings in quiet sometime and clearly there were some major strategic differences between these two teams.
Detroit was more conservative without the puck and stationed their high forward close to their defensemen. I guess you could call it a 2-3 lock or a passive 2-1-2 trap.
However, with the puck, the Red Wings have always been known as a great cycling/overload team and proved it about 4 minutes into the first. Detroit was cycling the puck in deep in our end zone. Zetterberg was unmarked and skated off the wall right into the high slot to beat Lundqvist through the five hole.
NBC Sports goons said it was a bad goal by Hank, but I thought he was screened on the play as he reacted a little late. What do you think Mr. Goalie Expert (Justin)?
Following the goal, I thought the Rangers secondary lines had a few good scoring opportunities, but couldn’t manufacture anything dangerous on net thanks to wide whiffs by Dubinsky and Boyle. But at least the effort was there.
Later in the first, Hank redeemed himself with a brilliant save off an awful turnover from MDZ behind his own blueline. Side note- Del Zotto struggled a little bit tonight playing the right side with Staal on his left. Playing MDZ, a lefty, on the right side forced him to pass and receive with his backhand, which clearly isn’t a strength yet. How Torts decides to use these two going forward is something worth monitoring.
Later in the first, the Rangers were afforded a power play and Richards went coast to coast to knot it at one. Detroit gave Richie such a huge lane down the middle of the ice, he only had to beat one defensive player to get to Conklin’s doorstep. If only it were that easy every night…
Overall, the Rangers were able to outshoot the Red Wings in the first, but the Wings had more quality shots due to their supreme passing ability and their aggressive overload.
In the second, the period again started off with a lot of neutral zone clogging by the Red Wings, but opened up later in the period.
Midway through the period Mats Zuccarello, who played great again tonight, setup Boyle beautifully in the slot with an excellent forward saucer pass that was very Detroit-like. Boyle actually got a quick shot on net (yay!), but Conklin was there to make the save.
The Rangers continued to pepper Conklin throughout the second period, as Torts dialed up the offense by allowing his defensemen to join in on four-man rushes.
The Rangers generated some great chances on another power play, but couldn’t find twine. If the power play continues to look as good as it has of late, more goals will come.
In the third period, both teams traded transition rushes and had extended looks in each other’s end zones.
Even during zone pressure these two teams looked very different system-wise. The Rangers try to outnumber you in the slot where Detroit was all about making east/west plays off the half wall. Zetterberg is so good at disappearing from coverage and then sneaking back into the play when no one’s looking. His hockey sense is really off the charts.
The Dubi-Stepan-Cally line really stepped up this period and routinely outworked the Red Wings down low.
We also saw some very good backchecking by both teams’ forwards, which I believe is a huge reason why these two teams are where they are in their respective conferences.
The Rangers almost lost the game on a late 2-on-1 rush, but Staal brilliantly timed a slide down to the ice to take away Detroit’s passing lane, forcing the shooter wide. Vintage Staal right there.
Finally in OT our usual suspects came through. Hank made the saves he had to make and MDZ setup Callahan on the rush, who provided the game winning goal.
Overall it was a great finish to a hard fought game.