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Posts tagged: Brandon Dubinsky

Dubinsky’s time to shine

Brandon Dubinsky had a rough 2011-2012 season. We know this. Many of us, including myself, were wondering when the hammer would fall and Dubi would be traded. It wasn’t so much the lack of production, it was that he seemed to be coasting and disinterested in playing. In fact, Suit and I were big supporters of his early in the season when he was still doing the little things. It wasn’t until later in the season that he appeared to lack the fire he once had.

But then the events of Saturday night happened, and the Gatorade bottles haven’t been the same since.

Dubinsky showed emotion that we haven’t seen in a while, and maybe that unwarranted game misconduct was a blessing in disguise. Dubinsky got tossed for being the third man in on a fight that had no second man, and was livid. One can only expect him to have that same fire and desire heading into Game Three tonight.

Dubi shouldn’t be targeting anyone on the Senators for retribution, that’s not his or the Rangers style of play. With Hagelin out, a top six spot opens up in the lineup. What harm is there to insert Dubinsky and see what he can do with a fire under his behind? The Gatorade bottle still has a bruise, although it was at practice this morning, so there was no suspension.

If Dubinsky even shows half of the fire he had last night, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. Rookie Chris Kreider may be the story heading into this game (if he plays), but Dubi has the potential to steal the show tonight. It’s long overdue.

Guest recap: Rangers v. Senators, game 2

*None of us were able to get the recap last night, so the always reliable friend of the blog Glen Miller was able to give us an assist.  Don’t forget to give Glen’s current project, Fan Junkies a look, and follow Glen on Twitter.  Thanks again Glen!

If evidence was needed to prove a hotly contested playoff series can turn any two teams into bitter rivals, look no further than the series between the Rangers and Senators. Prior to this postseason affair between the two it would have been unlikely to hear any fan of one describe the other club as a rival. That has all changed after game two of the series, won by the Senators 3 – 2 in OT.

Now, on to the game.

Period One

  • Sens coach Paul MacLean set the tone for the contest before the opening puck drop by inserting Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner into the lineup in place of Kaspars Daugavins and Matt Gilroy. The goal was clear; MacLean wanted to play a more physical brand of hockey. It would take just 2:15 for the game to get physical.

Apparently not happy with Brian Boyle’s actions toward young defenseman Erik Karlsson in game one, Carkner went looking for the Rangers big center. He found him and appeared to challenge Boyle to a fight, something Boyle seemed to decline. Carkner wouldn’t take no for an answer and sucker-punched Boyle, knocking him to the ice before throwing several more punches to the body.

A melee ensued with all 10 skaters joining in. With Carkner landing punch after punch and the linesmen late in getting involved, Brandon Dubinsky would jump in to remove Carkner from Boyle. Once order was restored, for the moment at least, the officials would gather to decide on the resulting penalties.

Carkner would get two for roughing, a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct. Dubinsky surprisingly would also get two for roughing and a game misconduct for being third guy in an altercation. The Rangers would end up with a full five-minute PP chance out of it all. Unfortunately the Blue Shirts couldn’t get anything going on their first man-advantage opportunity.

  • Chris Neil would continue the Senators targeting of Boyle when he too challenged Boyle at 8:17. This time Boyle would accept the invitation. The fight didn’t last long and no one landed any big-time punches but it was important for Boyle to stand up for himself.
  • Just 0:15 later, Sergei Gonchar would take a tripping penalty and give the Rangers their second man-advantage. This time the Blue Shirts would capitalize with Anton Stralman sneaking a slapshot by Craig Anderson. The goal was assisted by Dan Girardi and Artem Anisimov. For Anisimov it was his third assist of the series.
  • The goalies would trade great saves late in the period. Hank would stop a deking Nick Foligno with the right pad on a mini-breakaway. Anderson, following a late elbowing penalty to Chris Phillips, stoned Ryan Callahan all alone in front of the cage with just 0:46 left in the period.
  • The first frame would end with each team getting 10 shots on goal and the Rangers holding onto a 1 – 0 lead.

Period Two

  • The Rangers controlled play for the better part of the first half of period two out-chancing the Senators 6 – 1 according the numbers given by NBCSN.
  • During the physical first period, the Rangers maintained discipline. That changed in period two. Carl Hagelin got his elbow up into the head of Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson on a check along the LW boards at 10:32. The refs would assess a major penalty to the Rangers rookie and the Senators would take advantage.
  • Karlsson, held in check for much of the game to this point, drew the Sens even on the ensuing PP. From behind the goal line on the RW side Karlsson snapped a puck toward the front of the net where it deflected off the skate of Michael Del Zotto and into the net. Filip Kuba earned the lone assist on the goal.
  • Later Karlsson appeared to get away with a slew foot to Richards but the referees certainly did catch the retaliation and penalized Richards two minutes for roughing. The Rangers would kill off the PP.
  • Despite an early advantage in play, the Rangers would only finish the period with a 12 – 10 lead in shots. Read more »

The Playoff Day Musings

Well today is an interesting day is it not? It’s the opening playoff game day and the first playoff game day starting at home in, oh, only about 15 years…. Let’s hit the musings.

My initial thought as I considered tonight’s game was that I wanted to see the Rangers come out strong, dominate and dictate the tempo. Play their game. If they can do that then force themselves on to Ottawa early it will bode well.

Rangers come in to the series losing two in a row. Ottawa have lost three in a row. Not ideal situations for either team even if the circumstances were different.

I’ve written 107 words before I typed Chris Kreider. That’s impressive, no? I loved listening to him talking to the media. He came across as focussed, within himself and knew how to answer certain questions. He didn’t commit or promise the earth. In all Kreider came across as a mature young man and if he’s mentally ready to go a long with his NHL ready body he could be a great addition.

More on Kreider: I, like Dave, think he plays. I think he’s a player Ottawa won’t have been able to plan for like they can the rest of the Rangers and while they may have seen Frozen Four footage or from the WJC he’s certainly more of a closed book. Could that be an edge?

If I had to pick my round one playoff MVP I’m going with the captain; Mr Callahan. There won’t be a facet of the game in this series that he doesn’t have an influence on.

Of all the other Eastern Series I worry the most for the Panthers and I fear the Bruins more than the Pens based on one thing: There’s a very good chance the Pens (if they even advance at all) get a royal beat down in that series – playoff grind.

I started writing this Wednesday night. I then started watching the Pens game. After the first period I went to bed. It was almost 2 am and I didn’t want to watch the inevitable, at 3-0. Consider me stunned (and highly amused) when I woke to see the final score.

I don’t think the Rangers PP needs to be great to beat the Sens. I do think the penalty kill does however. It’s far more crucial given Spezza and Karlsson’s presence.

Wager Time: I have a Canadian friend I met in New York in November. He’s a Canuck and we have a pretty cool wager: Whoever’s team goes the deepest; the loser must buy the winner an expensive bottle of whisky. Is my faith in the Rangers over the ‘Nucks misplaced? No. I’ve requested a bottle of Blue Label and after the Canucks loss in game one I’m highly excited for my prize!

Why does Torts always have to have an edge in his interviews? I mean, the club just signed a big prospect for the playoffs. I appreciate he wants to avoid distractions, expectations kept to a minimum but one or two short questions isn’t unreasonable. I love Torts for so many reasons but sometimes he’s a little too cranky.

I’m hard on him a lot but I really hope to see a strong response from Dubinsky after his regular season. First of all he needs a great playoff if he’s to remain a Ranger but secondly, an in form Dubinsky makes a deep playoff run much more realistic.

Questions:

  • Which center will score more: Brad Richards or Jason Spezza?
  • How many points will Erik Karlsson score in the series?
  • Which NHL player (either conference) will lead the playoffs in scoring?
  • How many games will it take for Chris Kreider to get his chance?
  • Cheeky one: Who scores more playoff points this year; Kreider or Dubinsky?

I couldn’t be more excited for tonight’s game one. The playoff atmosphere will be off the charts.

Prediction Time: Rangers 3 Senators 1.

Recap: Rangers v. Wild

On a night where the lowly Islanders of all teams were able to stop the freight train that is the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers gutted out a much needed win in Minnesota, 3-2 over the Wild, to extend their Eastern Conference lead to 3 points with 6 to play.  Brian Boyle had a big game for the Rangers, scoring a goal, winning key face-offs and playing a solid physical game.  Let’s get to the bullets…

1st Period

  • The first period started off physical.  Both teams are low-scoring, physical groups and they acted like it to start the tilt.  For the first 10 or so minutes, the teams traded pedestrian scoring chances.
  • As the period progressed, the Rangers started to sustain more pressure and create some decent scoring chances.  They fell victim to a quick whistle on a play where the puck was clearly loose in the crease, and by the time the puck had made its way to the back of the net, the play was long dead.
  • Marian Gaborik was flying during the first period.
  • The Rangers would finally break the scoreless tie at the 11:23 mark when a shot from Anton Stralman was redirected and a scrum in front of the net ensued.  Brandon Dubinsky got the shot past Josh Harding and Brian Boyle popped it in the back of the net. 1-0 Rangers.
  • The Blueshirts had two power play chances in the first, and the unit actually looked pretty good.  The puck movement was there and they were getting shots to the net.  Unfortunately, the results didn’t match up with the effort and the score remained 1-0.
  • The Rangers dominated the first for the most part, outshooting the Wild 13-6.  Josh Harding had to be, and was, the best player on the ice for Minnesota.

2nd Period

  • Brian Boyle took a delay of game penalty to start the 2nd period when Mikko Koivu pressured the big pivot into sending the puck over the glass.  The Rangers would fall into some bad shot blocking luck on the PK. Callahan had to play with a broken stick after blocking a shot, and Ryan McDonagh was left limping after another block.  Kyle Brodziak was able to pot a rebound on a shot that Hank would probably want back.  1-1.
  • After seeing the overall physicality wane in the latter half of first, it returned again in the second.
  • The Rangers would regain the lead on Marian Gaborik’s 38th goal of the season, off a beautiful feed from Brad Richards.  Richards won the draw and followed the puck down low, finding a lane to Gaborik.  Absolute thing of beauty to see Richie finding his game at the right time. 2-1 Rangers.
  • Shortly after the Rangers took the lead again, some miscommunication in the slot between John Mitchell and Mike Rupp resulted in a fantastic save by Henrik Lundqvist, and an interference penalty by Marc Staal.  This was a case where they were both looking for the other to clear the puck, and the whole play broke down.
  • The Rangers were subsequently burned on the ensuing power play by some beautiful passing by the Wild.  Mikko Koivu would eventually deposit the puck into a wide open net off a great feed from Dany Heatley. 2-2.
  • For the second half of the period, the Wild controlled the play.  They won battles along the walls and pinned the Rangers back in their zone for long periods of time.  It was a blessing when the buzzer went off.

3rd Period

  • Brandon Dubinsky, who had played a strong first two periods was rewarded by starting on a line with Callahan and Stepan.  Dubi was all over the place tonight and was rewarded for his strong play.
  • The Rangers looked like a team trying to hold onto the point that they would receive if this game went to overtime.  They were tentative in all areas of the ice, which led to some chances for Minnesota.  Hank was up to the task and made some key saves in the third.
  • The third continued in a fairly uneventful fashion until the Blueshirts struck with a little under 7 minutes to go.  Ryan McDonagh made a nice pinch and carried the puck down low.  He tried to throw the puck toward the net, but it fortuitously bounced off a Wild defender and right onto the stick of Ruslan Fedetenko.  He was able to beat Josh Harding on the far side and give the Rangers the lead and the win. 3-2 Rangers.

Goaltending Analysis

Read more »

Finding a way to keep Zuccarello

The Rangers need to find a way to keep Mats Zuccarello with the organisation and in the line-up beyond this season. He provides the club with something different and can make a difference when he’s given the opportunity; as the win against the Devils showed.

Even with guys like Kreider en route there needs to be a place for the little Norwegian. Throwing Zuccarello on the ice after guys like Kreider is like a batter facing a knuckleball after countless fast balls. You have to plan differently for the nippy, much smaller Zuccarello. With his vision and passing ability there’s a different concern for a defense than with a straight-ahead-speed-merchant (with size) like Kreider. There should to be room for both.

There appears to be hope for Zuccarello, should he want to stay with the franchise and not explore other opportunities in the league (or Europe). Despite a great year collectively a few Rangers forwards have underwhelmed.

Brandon Dubinsky (better recently) has had a brutal year and clearly has a tenuous future given his presence in the Nash discussions. Artem Anisimov, a few games here and there aside, appears to have stagnated this year and isn’t as secure of his spot as he may once have been. Fedotenko looks to be getting older every game he plays.

There is surely space to accommodate Kreider and Zuccarello and that is to assume Kreider doesn’t spend time in the minors – still a possibility. A good question was raised on Twitter after the Devils game. Would ‘Zuke’ even want to stay after this year? It’s a valid question given his frustrating and inconsistent time with the organisation.

That said, if the Rangers offered him an increased opportunity of 13(is) minutes a game with a big part on the powerplay you have to think he’d consider staying. The Rangers are a club going places and looking to contend and that surely plays a role in any ambitious players’ decision.

What complicates all of this for Zuccarello is the contractual situation. Whether he’s been used correctly or not (a significant debate in itself), he simply hasn’t justified the Rangers qualifying him at (Update by Dave: Sorry to do this Chris, but the QO for Zucc is $945k, not $1.75m. The QO is based on salary, and that $1.75m includes bonuses.) $1.75m so there are complicating factors going forward. Though how much of an issue that would be if all parties wanted a reunion is another matter.

The Rangers need to find a way to keep the Norwegian. Not because he’s popular in the locker room. Not because he has a rock star following back home or because he is a media curiosity but because he could be a difference maker and successful teams can never have enough of those.

Dubinsky’s biggest problem

No, it isn’t Carl Hagelin, although that’s a pretty big issue for Dubinsky right now. Dubinsky is clearly the forgotten man in the Rangers offense right now and his biggest problem this season is consistency.

Anyone who watched the Islanders game will have seen Dubinsky was strong on the puck and his line generated plenty of chances all round. Dubinsky then followed it up with a game against Carolina where he was a complete non-factor and ended up with the third least ice time among forwards bettering only fourth line stalwarts Mike Rupp and John Mitchell (who still managed to make some good plays in his ice time).

These two games – against cellar dwellers no less – sum up Dubinsky’s year. Yes you can point to the emergence of Carl Hagelin, who has provided effort, production, speed and a cheap solution to the left wing spot.  And yes, you can say Dubinsky hasn’t finished enough of the chances that have come his way – you’ll not find disagreement on any of this.

However, trust is earned with Tortorella and the coach simply cannot rely on the well paid Dubinsky to back up one good game with another. Dubinsky has twelve regular season games and the playoffs to save his Rangers career. He certainly won’t be a hurdle for Chris Kreider to jump given the organisation’s lust for the BC winger to be in NY as soon as possible. He’s well behind the eight ball if it’s a Hagelin vs. Dubinsky debate. And don’t even get started on a Nash/insert free agent name vs. Dubinsky debate.

Dubi doesn’t need to score at a crazy rate to finish the season to have a chance to remain a Ranger, but he does need to show something that has often eluded him his entire Ranger career – consistency. Note: there’s a big difference between consistency and streaky. If Dubinsky can show he can be counted on to be a factor for the remainder of the season, then both he and the franchise will benefit from it. It may be Dubinsky’s last chance to remain a Ranger.

Inside Dubinsky’s stats: shooting percentage and shots

To say Brandon Dubinsky is having an off-year would be an understatement. Outside of his boneheaded penalties of late, most focus on his anemic goal total and his offensive contribution, and with good reason. Dubinsky is making $4.2 million for the next three seasons following the 2011-2012 campaign, and he has contributed just seven goals and 26 points in 60 games this year.

While the raw point totals are troubling, what is even more troubling is his sharp decline in shots taken and shooting percentage. Dubinsky, who averages roughly 178 shots per season, is on pace for just 147 this season. That’s about half a shot less per game. While that may not seem like much, when you factor in his roughly 10% shooting success over his career, that’s three less goals just based on his career average.

This effect is compounded when you factor in Dubinsky’s current shooting percentage: a paltry 6.5% success rate. That’s 3.5% less than his career average, and almost half what it was the past two seasons. If Dubinsky were meeting his career average in shot percentage, then he would be at about 11 goals this season, and on pace for about 15 total goals. It’s not 20, but it’s definitely better than what he is currently on pace for (9).

So what does all this mean? Dubinsky isn’t shooting the puck as much as he was the past two seasons, and he also appears to be incredibly unlucky when he does get his shots on net.

The good news is that there is progression to the mean possibilities here. It may not be this season, which appears to be a lost cause for Dubinsky, but it may lead to a  2012-2013 season reminiscent of his 2010-2011 season, assuming he takes more shots of course.

Rangers/Bolts recap

The Rangers lost a tough one tonight, 4-3 to the Lightning in overtime.  The Blueshirts looked tired and we generally outplayed by Tampa for the better part of the game.  Henrik Lundqvist played very well and Brandon Dubinsky made a return to the score sheet.  No one likes to lose but there were definitely some positive takeaways from this one.  To the bullets…

  • 1st Period
  • Tampa came out strong in the 1st, outshooting the Rangers 13-3 at one point.  Henrik Lundqvist was very sharp early, weathering the storm until the Rangers could put one on the scoreboard.
  • Artem Anisimov did just that with a nice quick shot past Garon’s stick side. 1-0 Rangers.
  • Dubinsky didn’t play a whole lot in the first period, paired on a line with Rupp and Scott.  I do remember noticing how hard he was working along the walls creating pressure from the big 4th line.
  • McDonagh took another penalty that the MSG cameras didn’t have a camera on.
  • 2nd Period
  • The Rangers started the 2nd killing McDonagh’s penalty but soon found themselves with a 5-on-3 advantage.  Torts used his time out, and the Rangers made the move work out.  Brad Richards set a nice pick on Adam Hall, which allowed a lane for Gaborik to develop.  He launched an absolute missile into the top corner.  PP goal, 2-0 Rangers.
  • At this point, the Rangers were in good position despite being pretty severely outplayed by Tampa.  You just had that feeling that the Bolts would start chipping away.
  • Tampa’s first goal came from a scramble in the crease, in which Tom Pyatt beat Ryan McDonagh to the spot in front of the net.  2-1 Rangers.
  • It was about this time Sam and Joe told us that Toronto had fired Ron Wilson.  Never thought Burke would pull the trigger on that one.
  • This was a game where the Rangers definitely missed Ryan Callahan.  When the Rangers get sluggish, Cally leads by example.  He would have been a huge spark tonight.
  • Dubinsky continued to play well in 4th line duties.
  • 3rd Period
  • The Rangers began the third with a strong forecheck.  Their momentum wouldn’t last as a miscue on a defensive zone draw ended with Girardi kicking the puck to a driving St. Louis who fed the puck right on the door step to Teddy Purcell.  2-2.
  • After Tampa tied the game, the Rangers responded well.  They began to control the play and a funny thing happened; Brandon Dubinsky started getting top 6 minutes.
  • Tampa would again squash the Rangers momentum as Steven Stamkos sent a rocket to the top corner past Lundqvist about halfway through the 3rd.  3-2 Tampa.
  • Carl Hagelin would end up taking a high sticking double minor about 15 seconds after Stamkos’ goal.  It would take the clock down to about 6 minutes for the Rangers to tie the game.  The penalty kill was phenomenal and actually gave the Rangers some momentum heading into the final minutes.  Hank made an enormous glove save on the penalty kill to keep the deficit to one.
  • Brandon Dubinsky would get that tying goal after he moved into prime scoring position after Martin St. Louis lost his edge in the high slot.  Dubi ripped one over the blocker of Garon and gave the Rangers new life.  3-3.
  • OT
  • Brad Richards almost set Dan Girardi up perfectly a couple minutes into overtime.  He made a nifty move in the slot and send a perfect pass toward the Ranger d-man, but Steven Stamkos made a terrific defensive play to keep Girardi from getting the shot off.
  • Ryan Malone would win it for the Bolts on a well-placed screen shot that beat Henrik Lundqvist at 1:58 of the OT period. 4-3 Tampa.

Obligatory Goaltending Analysis

  • Mathieu Garon played well tonight.  None of the goals the Rangers scored were soft and came up with several nice saves on Carl Hagelin and Brad Richards.  It was a little disappointing to see the offense stymied by Garon to this extent, since he’s, you know…not very good.
  • Hank ended up with 27 saves in this one, but the stats don’t do his performance justice.  He weathered enormous pressure in the 1st period and made several more difficult saves as the game went on.  This one could have easily been 3-0 Tampa in the first 10 minutes or so.
  • This game was a prime example of why save percentage is a faulty stat.  Both Garon and Lundqvist played very well.  Their save percentages?  .842 and .871, respectively.

Random Thoughts

  • I thought Richards played a strong game tonight.  He had a team high in shots and was generally more involved on both sides of the puck.
  • I decided tonight that Mitchell irritates me on top-6 duty simply because he is too much Swedish and not nearly enough Finnish. (If ya know what I mean.)
  • Stepan was a beast on the forecheck tonight.  He had his stick in every passing lane and played well in both ends of the ice.
  • Carl Hagelin “just missed” about 5 plays tonight where his speed could have send him in all alone.  He played well, but that timing was just a little off.
  • Marian Gaborik now has 23 points in his past 21 games.
  • Steven Stamkos isn’t fair.
  • I thought Torts handled Dubi perfectly.  He started him with the fourth line and Dubinsky played well enough the coach couldn’t ignore him anymore.  He had a jump and an edge to his game and never stopped working.  Torts rewarded him with well deserved top 6 minutes and Dubinsky came through.  Hopefully this is just what he needs to get going a little bit.

Off tomorrow and then a matinee with Boston at home on Sunday afternoon.  That one will be a 12:30pm start on NBC.

Brandon Du-bench-sky*

*-I would like to thank my friend Jim Schmiedeberg for today’s title. He tweeted it last night, and I ran with it for the post today.

Last night Brandon Dubinsky committed another stupid penalty when he grabbed a stray stick on the ice and threw it in the corner. It is not the first stupid penalty he has committed, it is not the second stupid penalty he has committed, it isn’t even the third stupid penalty he has committed. For some unknown reason, Dubinsky just can’t seem to do anything right this season.

Well, saying he can’t do anything right is a bit of a stretch, he has been playing some great defense and is still killing penalties. But for $4.2 million per season, the Rangers need more. Six goals doesn’t make that contract worth it, especially when he is committing stupid penalties.

Many thought that Dubinsky would find his game after not being traded this deadline. He has not. He is clearly frustrated, and his stupid penalties are evidence of this. Maybe he is gripping his stick too tightly, trying to earn that contract. That doesn’t explain tossing a stick in the corner. The worst part of that penalty is that the Rangers just committed one of those stupid penalties when Michael Del Zotto gave Brian Boyle back his stick.

Dubinsky appears to be on thin ice with the Rangers. He isn’t scoring, and now he is costing his team goals. Sure, the Rangers won last night, but they did it despite Dubinsky’s penalty, which led to a goal. He was benched for the rest of the game, a benching that has been far overdue.

The underachieving winger needs to find his game, and fast. Don’t think those Rick Nash whispers are going to disappear at the draft. They will be full-on again, and if Dubinsky doesn’t get his act together, he could find himself in Columbus.

Rangers/Hurricanes recap

The Rangers grinded out a gutsy win in Carolina tonight, beating the ‘Canes 3-2 behind a fantastic defensive effort and a very solid game by Marty Biron.  Marian Gaborik scored to net his 30th of the year, and his 7th 30 goal season overall.  Seems like the theme lately has been a period by period recap, so I’ll give it a try (let me know which format you guys prefer in the comments).  To the bullets…

  • 1st Period
  • During the first period the Rangers had a solid forecheck going and were doing a nice job getting penetration into the offensive zone.  The problem was they weren’t developing quality chances from that penetration.  They were moving the puck well enough to evade pressure from the Hurricanes, but not well enough to put quality shots on Cam Ward.
  • Defensively the Blueshirts did a fantastic job of getting sticks into passing lanes and forcing Carolina’s wingers to the outside on the rush.  Ryan McDonagh was especially impressive early on. 
  • With :50 seconds remaining in the first, Brandon Dubinsky took what I will assume was a stupid penalty (I didn’t seem like any MSG camera actually caught Dubinsky throw Jiri Tlusty’s stick), which drew the ire of coach John Tortorella.  Dubinsky wouldn’t see the ice the rest of the game.
  • 2nd period
  • What do you know?  That penalty came back to the bite the Rangers as Jeff Skinner snuck a shot through Marty Biron’s arm on a point blank slap shot.  As a goalie, those goals are absolutely infuriating.  1-0 Carolina.
  • As Dubinsky continued to sit, the recipient of his minutes seemed to be John Mitchell.  Mitchell played about 15 minutes and played a solid game.  He seemed to have a nice chemistry with Richards/Hagelin as well.
  • The Ranger’s continued to play excellent defense through the second period.  Michael Del Zotto exited the game early with an apparent hip injury, which pressed Marc Staal into bigger minutes as the game went on. 
  • The Rangers would tie the game on a hard wrist shot from Artem Anismov off a nice little back pass from Marian Gaborik.  The play wouldn’t have happened however, without some tremendous work by Derek Stepan in the neutral zone after blocking a shot. The shot seemed to handcuff Cam Ward a little bit, as he threw the puck in frustration after the puck bounced out. 1-1.
  • I caught myself wondering at one point in the second…why would Carolina want to stir anything up with the Rupp/Scott combination? 
  • Gaborik would put the Rangers ahead later in the second when he banged in the rebound of a Derek Stepan shot.  Gabby made a strong play in the slot to create a good chance and then didn’t give up on the play and was able to guide the rebound home.  Very strong play for the Rangers leading goal scorer as he pocketed his 30th of the season. 2-1 Rangers.
  • 3rd period
  • The Rangers caught a break at the start of the third period when the puck ricocheted off the lines man and right onto the stick of Brian Boyle, who would make a beauty of a pass to Brandon Prust to give the Rangers some insurance.  3-1 Rangers.
  • Jeff Skinner is absolutely filthy.  Crazy how two of Carolina’s best players can’t legally drink yet. (Skinner and Falk)
  •  The last 10 or so minutes of the game, the Rangers killed 6 minutes worth of penalties.  The bulk of which was assessed when John Mitchell accidentally clipped Jay Harrison with his stick.  Blood was drawn, 4 minutes. 
  • The ensuing penalty kill was magnificent.  Prust and Boyle were at their very best, while Staal continued to round into form with a strong effort on the PK.  Also, Dan Girardi is a warrior.
  • The ‘Canes drew within one goal with :39 seconds remaining after some slightly blown coverage from the aforementioned Girardi and Staal (not nearly enough impact to mar the fantastic game both played).  Jay Harrison was there to tap it in on the doorstep.  3-2 Rangers.
  • New York was able to hold on in regulation to win their 8th game in their last 11.

Obligatory Goaltending Notes

  • I thought both goaltenders played terrific tonight.  Neither one had a ton of work, but both made great saves at various points of the game.
  • Cam Ward isn’t a flashy goalie, but despite the 3 goals, he continues to show why he is one of the game’s best despite a suspect blue line.
  • Marty Biron had a nice bounce back game after a couple bumps in the road in the form of Chicago and the Islanders.  He had a slight case of rebounditis in the first third of the game or so, but his confidence clearly grew as the game went on and ended up making several key saves.
Random Thoughts
  • Torts might as well have put a dunce hat on the Dubi and made him sit facing the corner for the rest of the game.  Torts was visibly irritated about that penalty in his presser.
  • Brandon Prust was the 1st star of this game for me.  Absolute monster out there.
  • I’m going to say this with the assumption that DZ’s injury is nothing serious; I think it’s time to bump Staal up to the second pair.  The coaching staff has done a tremendous job bringing him back slowly this year, but I think the training wheels are ready to come off.  He played over 20 minutes tonight, and I don’t think any of us would be against demoting Anton Stralman to the third pair with Stu Bickel.  Not that Stralman hasn’t played well, but clearly Staal is the better player.
  • I’m not sure how many of you had the privilege of watching the MSG post game, but if you did you were able to behold that shirt that Ron Duguay was wearing.  Just terrific Ron, terrific.

Right back at it tomorrow night in Tampa at 7pm, as the Rangers try to run their winning streak to 4 in a row.  Don’t forget to be here tomorrow at noon for the BSB Live Chat!