The Rangers looked like the Rangers last night, playing a solid overall game and besting a good Detroit Red Wings team by a score of 3-2 in overtime. It was a night of redemption for three key forwards, as Benoit Pouliot, Mats Zuccarello, and Derick Brassard scored the three goals for New York in the win. Rookie Cam Talbot was spectacular in net, getting his first win of his NHL career.
Despite being ravaged by injuries, the Rangers played AV’s systems to a ‘T’ last night, dominating in puck possession and looking like a team that appears to have finally caught on to their new coach’s styles. This was one of the few games this year where it looked like the Rangers had a compete level that met the expectations of the fans of an NHL club.
On to the goals:
Wings 1, Rangers 0
On the ruch, Zuccarello forced a pass, trying to get the puck to the weak side for either Jesper Fast or Anton Stralman. Instead, the pass deflected off Dominic Moore, and right to a backchecking Drew Miller. Miller scooped up the puck and raced back on the 2-on-1 against Marc Staal. Staal took away the pass, but Miller beat Talbot short side for the 1-0 lead. The red arrow is Miller off-screen, and the green arrows show what should have been done. The smart play is getting the puck deep and allowing Fast to collect the puck behind the net. At a worst case scenario, the puck is turned over and Detroit needs to go 200 feet for a chance.
Rangers 1, Wings 1
Another powerplay goal for the Rangers as Pouliot got some nice redemption. After a face off win, Ryan McDonagh was down low working the boards, so Pouliot covered at the point. Eventually the puck was worked to Pouliot, whose shot on net didn’t get through. Pouliot didn’t stop with the shot, he followed it up by charging the net, and was able to get it in the net following a scramble for the loose puck that his shot caused. Joakim Andersson was the guy who Pouliot was able to sneak around on his charge to the net.
Wings 2, Rangers 1
After an ill-advised penalty by Taylor Pyatt, the Wings went to work on the powerplay. The first picture (above) shows the Rangers diamond penalty kill as it should be, as the formation leaves the puck carrier with only one choice. The pass to the slot and backdoor are covered, the pass to the man in front is covered, and the pass to the point is covered. The only option here is to ring it around the boards.
This second picture above shows the failed coverage, as Daniel Alfredsson is left open in the slot. Dominic Moore (circled) was looking at the weak side and back door, as he should be. The problem arose when both Ryan McDonagh and Derek Dorsett were caught watching the puck carrier, instead of one focusing on Alfie in the slot. With that passing lane wide open, it was an easy rip.
Rangers 2, Wings 2
Fast forced a turnover in the neutral zone, and the Rangers were able to convert that into a goal. After the Rangers were able to get the puck deep. After the initial point shot following the turnover was stopped, Andersson (again) wasn’t able to stop Zuccarello from banging home the rebound, even though Zucc was falling as he shot it. This goal was Zuccarello’s redemption for his earlier misdeed and an overall poor first eight games. This was a great effort on his part.
Rangers 3, Wings 2 (OT)
This goal was all Pouliot. A solid effort along the boards led to him chipping the puck past Kyle Quincey in the defensive zone. With Quincey beat and Brassard streaking down the ice with Pouliot, Niklas Kronwall was left in a tough position. He had to make a choice of defending the 2-on-1 and hoping Quincey could catch Pouliot on the backcheck, or make an aggressive play and force Pouliot to chip it past him. He chose the latter, and it backfired. Pouliot chipped it by Kronwall, and Brassard had the breakaway winner with less than 30 seconds remaining in overtime.
The long road trip is finally over for the Rangers. They ended the trip 3-6, which is worse than the 4-4-1 we would have hoped for. Regardless, they now get to play a schedule that resembles one for a normal NHL club. The home opener is Monday against Montreal, and they should be bringing the momentum from their first complete win home with them.