The Rangers played one of their most complete games of the season as they eliminated the Devils from postseason contention, winning 4-1. The Rangers were the better team throughout led once again by Callahan and Stepan offensively with Henrik Lundqvist again in strong form in net. The Rangers are peaking at the right time. You have to enjoy the Devils mocks from the crowd toward the end. That feels good. So does seeing their head coach get ejected. This was a satisfying win for the Rangers. On to the goal breakdown.
Rangers 1-0; Ryan Callahan
The Rangers struck early; after getting in deep and generating pressure along the boards the puck caroms off the boards to Callahan who, stationed to the right of the Devils goal caught Brodeur off guard to bank it off his right skate in to the net. The goal was basically a result of immediate puck pressure and a strange bounce that Callahan was able to take advantage of.
Rangers 2-0; Derek Stepan
Traffic + puck possession = goals. The Rangers cycled the puck down low effectively then moved the puck to the blueline where it eventually came to Ryan McDonagh. As McDonagh wound up for a shot, two Rangers (Clowe and Stepan) went toward the net and created a heap of traffic in front of Brodeur. McDonagh’s shot from the right point appears to take a deflection in front from Stepan as Brodeur could see very little as the puck found its way in.
Rangers 3-0; Taylor Pyatt
Midway through the second, Brad Richards emphasised his recent upturn in form with a great steal to set up the third Rangers goal. After the Rangers had pressured the Devils for several minutes with a great consistent forecheck, Richards intercepted a zone clearing pass by the Devils showing great anticipation. Richards then settled the puck and fed a streaking Taylor Pyatt who beat Brodeur with a great wrist shot up high from the slot. The goal was a great counter punch by the Rangers, in particular Brad Richards.
Rangers 4-0; Ryan Callahan (powerplay)
Grabbing a fourth Rangers goal, Callahan chipped one in from the right, over a diving Brodeur on the powerplay as Brad Richards fed him down low. The goal came after a selfish penalty from Patrick Elias negated a Devils powerplay. The goal highlighted some nice puck movement, vision and patience from the Rangers all over the ice. John Moore and Mike Del Zotto moved the puck quickly up high, on to Richards who faked the shot before feeding Callahan to the right. It was another heads up play by Richards, once again showing off some new found confidence.
Rangers 4 Devils 1; Andrei Loktionov
The Rangers gave up a late one to the Devils as Loktionov spoiled Lundqvist’ shutout bid with just over six minutes remaining. Following a turnover around center ice, the puck came to Loktionov to the right of Lundqvist, who was completely open. The Devil skated in closer and sent a low shot under the Rangers goalie into the net. A breakdown all over the ice for the Rangers; poor coverage, a turnover up ice and a shot that Lundqvist would expect to save more often than not.
The Rangers harassed the puck carrier all game long. They played smart defensively, their defensemen pinched at the right times while the Rangers won puck battles all over the ice and controlled the boards. With Lundqvist making big saves when required the Rangers played well in almost every facet. They started the game well, and a dip in play at the start of the middle period aside they played with energy, discipline and a consistently aggressive forecheck. Just overall, a great game by the Rangers that underlines their recent improved play. Perhaps evidenced perfectly by Brad Richards’ vast improvement tonight and in recent games, this team appears to be rounding into form at the perfect time in the season.
Star of the game:
Ryan Callahan; once again did absolutely everything.