Rangers right the ship, need to build on strong win in BuffaloDecember 6, 2013, by
The Rangers came into Buffalo not only in need of a win, but in need of a win where they dominated the opposition. They did both last night, taking control of the Sabres in a 3-1 win. Henrik Lundqvist was stellar, and the Rangers scored at even strength and on the powerplay for a nicely balanced scoring attack. New York dominated puck possession, and was finally able to convert on scoring chances. Sure it was Buffalo, but confidence building has to start somewhere.
Speaking of Hank, what a game he played. He wasn’t tested often, but he had a lot of difficult saves to make, including three acrobatic saves (one split on a breakaway, one glove save, and one diving blocker save). He was surely on his game last night.
As for special teams, the Rangers PK is still phenomenal, and the PP continues to convert and generate solid chances.
On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Sabres 0
If that goal looked familiar, it should. That was a set breakout play that the Rangers perfected last year under John Tortorella. In that play, the defenseman (Ryan McDonagh) hits the center at center ice, who touch-passes the puck to the winger on the boards (Rick Nash). Nash collected the puck and just blew by Tyler Myers before schooling Ryan Miller for the goal. The arrows above show the path of the puck and the path of Nash as he cut to the net.
Rangers 2, Sabres 0
I say this a lot, but the Rangers really do move the puck well on the powerplay. This time around, Mats Zuccarello collected the puck at the point and fed Brassard at the off-wing face off dot. Brassard faked a shot so well that Miller actually bit on the shot. Brass fed Brad Richards at the bad angle, who roofed it over a sliding Miller.
Rangers 3, Sabres 0
There wasn’t really a defensive breakdown by the Sabres here. McDonagh hit Richards at center ice, who hit Zuccarello for the zone entry. Zuccarello used his speed to split three defenders, and found a hole under Miller’s glove for the goal.
Sabres 1, Rangers 3
The Sabres spoiled the shutout after Zemgus Girgensons batted down Lundqvist’s outlet at the boards, which went right to Tyler Ennis. Ennis, now behind Anton Stralman, collected the puck on the doorstep and roofed it over Hank.
The Rangers had another game where they dominated puck possession as soon as the second period began. It’s been the norm for the Rangers, who usually need to weather the early storm before settling in and generating the majority of the scoring chances. New York let up a bit with a two goal lead, but took charge again once they made it a three goal lead. It’s actually interesting, because AV in Vancouver was notoriously passive once he had a lead, but with the Rangers he appears to be pressing even more (that’s a future post, stay tuned).
The Rangers really needed this win tonight. They let everyone down on Monday with their loss at home to Winnipeg, but beating Buffalo before a nine game home stretch is a very important win. Now this team comes home with a lot of confidence as they enter the most important stretch of the season. Nine home games in a row against mostly non-playoff teams means they need to start rattling off some W’s to put everyone’s worries aside. This team is better than they’ve been playing, they just need to put in that consistent effort. It begins tomorrow at The Garden.