After a couple of days off, the Rangers took to the ice at the Garden for a pre-Superbowl matinee and threw the Flyers a well deserved 5-2 beating. This was a tremendous game with a ton of talking points for analysis, but I’ll try to be brief. Onto the bullets…
- Overall, the Rangers played an incredibly solid game today. They minimized mistakes, took advantage of some soft goals by Ilya Bryzgalov and played a hard-nosed, physical game.
- The offense was once again lead by Marian Gaborik. He finished with a goal and an assist, a +3 and 8 shots on goal. He was flying from the opening face-off and being reunited with Derek Stepan (2a, +3) and Artem Anisimov (1g, 2a, +3) yielded significant results.
- Speaking of Anisimov, that tip was an absolute beauty off Girardi’s point shot.
- Michael Del Zotto (Zaster?) continues to get stronger as the season progresses. He is seeing open ice and making strong decisions when to join the rush. His hockey sense has gone through the roof this season and it’s showing on both sides of the puck.
- The Rangers got some timely secondary scoring with Fedotenko, Dubinsky and Del Zotto chipping in goals. Hopefully Dubinsky’s game will continue to improve and take some of the pressure off Glen Sather to make a move for a top-6 forward at the deadline.
- The PP continued to be ineffective, but there were plenty of signs of improvement in this game. They began to force the puck toward the net from the points, which took some of the pressure off the wingers down low. There were several lateral chances between the forwards as it forced the Flyer’s PK unit to operate a little higher in the D-zone. 10 PP shots on goal is a step in the right direction.
- On the other side of the coin, six penalties is way too many to take even in a physical game like this one. While Stu Bickel had a solid overall game, the interference and boarding penalties are going to keep Tort’s from trusting him with more ice time. It was great to see him standing up and taking some of the fighting responsibilities off Prust and Rupp.
- I continue to be impressed every game by Ryan McDonagh. He is such a heady player and makes defending the top lines from every team look routine. Once Staal rounds back into form (he looked much better again today) the Rangers will have an embarrassment of riches in the top-4. Although they still lack the big bomb from the point, you have a puck mover (DZ) and three shut-down defenders who can chip in on offense more than occasionally.
- I don’t know who has less business being on an NHL roster, Sestito or Rinaldo…
- Another pedestrian performance by Brad Richards today. He needs to step it up, and quickly.
- The Rangers blocked an absurd amount of shots again today. They had 25 blocks to the Flyer’s 10.
- What else is left to say about Henrik Lundqvist’s play? He only had 21 saves (mostly because of the 25 blocks), but man does that guy come up big when the team needs it the most. Looks like he learned his lesson on Giroux (same move as the Winter Classic goal) with only a few minutes left.
- Ilya Bryzgalov did not fair so well this afternoon. His game was pretty much a microcosm of his entire season. He had some tremendous saves, but was done in by three soft goals. His save % in this game was .892, for the season, .899.
- This team continues to find a way to win all types of games. These intense, physical tilts are the best way to prepare for playoff hockey, and this team is making it clear they are going to be extremely difficult matchup to draw come April.
Off tomorrow and another big division game against the Devils on Tuesday at the Garden.
Everyone be safe tonight and enjoy the other big game!