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Rangers beat the best, move into playoff position

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Rangers played a pretty strong game last night against one of the best teams in the NHL and managed to come away with a victory. On the pregame show, Edie Olczyk said Henrik Lundqvist would need to steal this game. He did just that –even with a shaky goal in the second period– by making a lot of key saves in the final minutes to preserve the 3-2 lead. At the end of the game, Lundqvist made 35 saves for the win and looked like The King once again.

But it wasn’t just The King that won this game. The defense played a very steady game and held the dangerous Hawks to just two goals. They kept players like Kane, Hossa, Seabrook, Bickell, Shaw, and Versteeg off the score sheet. They capitalized on a weak Corey Crawford in the first period. They did what they needed to do for the win, and are now 6-2-1 in their last nine games.

On to the goals:

Rangers 1, Hawks 0

Wow. What a hole.

Wow. What a hole.

The Rangers defense did a good job of shutting down Patrick Kane at the blue line, then quickly transitioned to offense. D shuts down Kane at blue line and rangers transitioned. Marc Staal got the puck to Ryan Callahan, who hit Brad Richards on the near wing. Richards walked in on a 2-on-1 with Cally. Brent Seabrook took out the passing lane, but Crawford left the wickets wide enough for a train to pass through. Richards took a double take, wondering if Crawford was really daring him to shoot five-hole. He did, and it went through Crawford without even touching him. That’s how wide the hole was. Richards was probably thinking this the entire time.

Rangers 2, Hawks 0

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This is a very bad goal by Crawford. He wants this back.

Hawks 1, Rangers 2

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With the Hawks on the powerplay, Patrick Sharp took a shot from the point, which hit Dan Girardi in front and went right to Jonathan Toews for the easy rebound goal. Sometimes the Hawks just get lucky. One thing to notice is the formation here, as the Hawks are in the 1-3-1, forcing the Rangers into a diamond to protect the slot, point, and wing shots. Sometimes the middle man on the “3” is left with a little room.

Hawks 2, Rangers 2

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Crawford gave up two softies. Hank gave up one softie. He has to stop this shot.

Rangers 3, Hawks 2

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This goal was created by Carl Hagelin getting good position in front of the net on Nick Leddy. Once Marc Staal’s shot from the point gets through, Hagelin was able to get a good whack at the rebound as Leddy didn’t take the body and hacked at Hagelin’s skates.

Fenwick Chart:

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

As you could probably tell while watching the game, the Hawks were the dominant puck possession team the whole game. The Rangers jumped out to a two goal lead early because of two softies from Crawford, but the Hawks were the one with the ice tilted in their favor. In the end the Hawks wound up with a 53.6% Fenwick advantage, and the Rangers came away with a victory. I do want to focus on the third period, particularly to the steep uptick in shot attempts for the Rangers right before they flatlined for a while. That was one of the best powerplays I’ve seen in a while, but as soon as it was over the Hawks simply dominated play (partially because of a powerplay of their own).

It’s not often that we can say the Rangers went into the best’s house and beat the best, but that is what they did last night. They have a 6-2-1 record heading into Friday night’s game against the Dallas Stars, another tough team. With the way they’ve been playing, it looks like this team –that is finally healthy– is hitting their stride. They need to continue to win at this pace if they want to make the playoffs.

21 Responses to “Rangers beat the best, move into playoff position”

  1. Sally says:

    Good for them!!!!

  2. JerseyRanger says:

    The trend for this group would be to go into Dallas and lay an egg….but maybe, just maybe they have turned the corner.

    Gonna need a few more games to convince me.

    • @Centerman21 says:

      They play horrible at home. While they have a top 5 road record in the NHL. That has to change if they’re going anywhere this season. Especially at home.

      • Dave says:

        They just played a pretty decent game at home against Columbus. The home stretch coincided with the worst stretch of the season in December.

  3. Walt says:

    BR’s goal was very weak. Zucc’s goal had a little puck luck. Hags goal was determination, and a game winner.

    Hank looked good in the first, like crap on the second goal by Chicago, but was solid in the third. Given that fact, I want to see Hank have a full 60 minute game where he looks solid. Now they are going to say I’m hateing the guy, far from the truth.

    I just don’t understand how a team jumps out to a 2-0 lead, and then sits on it for a while until the Hawks tie the game, before they start playing again. Can anyone explain that to me???? I realize that the Hawks are tough as nails to play against, solid on the O, and D, even strength, PP, PK, what a great team!!!!! Sure as hell would love for that to be our team!!!!!

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      You just answered your own question (you know, the Hawks being “tough as nails to play against”). It’s a great team making a push after being down 2 goals. That game was a good example of two teams competing and the momentum swinging to each side over the course of 60 minutes.

      • Walt says:

        It appears that they have a tendency to sit back when they are in the lead, and then push when tied, why sit back in the first place is the question???????

    • Dave says:

      They didn’t sit on the lead. They were being dominated before they even had the lead. If Crawford plays like a normal goalie in the first, it’s 0-0 headed into the second.

      • Ray says:

        I saw a different game than you did. I don’t fault Crawford on Zucc’s goal. I am hard pressed to pick the best goalie in the game. Lundqvist didn’t steal the game – he simply played the way a starting NHL goalie is supposed to play.

        The Hawks hardly dominated. If you throw out the first period, the Fenwick chart comes out even I think. While the Hawks got more shots in the first, they didn’t have any good shots in that period – maybe Hank had one or two good saves, but that’s about it. The first period mostly belonged to the Rangers. Certainly though, the Hawks matched the Rangers in quality chances after the first.

  4. Scully says:

    Here’s to hoping that this is the start of something. They’ve been much more consistent and have grabbed 13 of the last 18 possible points.

    Hank looked good. Yeh, he let in a softie, but it happens. Like JerseyRanger said, history dictates Dallas will beat them like 6-3, but perhaps… just perhaps this team is rounding into shape just at the nick of time. If they can go strong to the olympic break they might put themselves in a solid position in this bunched up Metrosexual… i mean Metropolitan division :D.

  5. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    I couldn’t believe the Rangers didn’t score on that PP in the third. That was Crawford making up for the first period.

  6. SalMerc says:

    Watched parts of the game, and from what I did see, they played toe-to-toe with Chicago. Like others here, I am hoping to string along 3 or 4 good games in a row against all types of opponents. You never want to only play to your competitions level, but strive to better your own level of play every game.

  7. Chuck A says:

    Two games over .500?? Sacre bleu!

  8. Chris A says:

    Let’s hope that this past few games is a sign that the Rangers miserable puck luck through the first half of the season turning around.

    If that happens they will coast to second in this miserable division.

    Also, regarding AV, he has challenged four players through the media: Zucc, MDZ, Pouliot and Hagelin. Two of the above are having careers years and Pouliot has caught up to his career year numbers.

    Be patient Rangers fans, the good days are coming.

  9. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Last night was by far the most complete game I saw the Rangers play all year. Girardi and Boyle were huge in this game. Hagelin was all over and Zuke scored on the Powerplay. Callahan was tremendous and Hank minus the 2nd goal stellar. Pouliot has turned his game around. Who noticed his physical presence last night? I know I did. I think Carcillo will be a welcome addition to the Rangers. This team still has a few steps to go however after last nights game they truly have a building block to go on.
    Staal and McDonagh were awesome, Richards was very good and Nash was challenging both the goalie and the Hawk defense. With these signs should the Rangers go on a run they can become a dangerous team. Let’s go Rangers

    • Paco33 says:

      To my eyes, both Girardi and Staal have looked terrific over the past two games.

  10. Dave says:

    I don’t know if Justin is around, but it looked like Hank’s balance issues with his new pads have gotten better.

  11. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    I was just taking a look at the standings, the two wild cards are no longer a lock to come from the Atlantic division like everyone has been assuming.

    I’d guess Detroit makes it as one wild card, but other than that, Ottawa/Toronto are no locks – Toronto has fallen back to earth, hard. Ottawa has been as up and down as the Rangers.

    It’s a wide open conference.

  12. Frank Cerbone says:

    Good game by Rangers

    Alex Urbom 23, 6-3, 215 lb left side strong, physical, defenseman, with definite upside, claimed on waivers from Wash by NJ. Another miss by Sather, as Urbom is a much better player than Falk. Not a fighter yet but has fought Prust, Brayden Schenn, & Steve Downie, lasted a long time in all the fights, just technique lacking…..and a Swede no less. He will be a decent defenseman in time.

    • Dave says:

      NJ is lower in the standings, thus has higher waiver priority. You won’t know if Slats put in a claim.

  13. Frank Cerbone says:

    Dave you are collect; Montreal, Boston, Detroit, San Jose, & Anaheim all looking for a defenseman. In fact, Montreal benched PK Subban now in his contract year. I could see Staal, MDZ going to Montreal for PK Subban…then Rangers looking to get a guy with potential like Urborn. A right handed defenseman would certainly look good in Ranger uniform. Anyways, David Savard (RFA)of Columbus & Tom Gilbert (UFA) of Florida are available in the off season. Conor Allen, another left side defenseman is almost ready. Sather needs to rebalance the defensemen alignments and also consider Matt Moulson as a replacement for Richards next season. Moulson is a finisher and plays hurt like Girardi.