Game day started well for the Rangers as Michael Del Zotto and Ruslan Fedotenko were both restored to the line-up to face the Bruins in the nationally televised matinee. Following that good news was a dandy of a match between two quality clubs. The Rangers were outplayed for two periods but stuck with it, refused to buckle and have a certain goaltender from Sweden in net. The Rangers won 4-3 on the back of Lundqvist, an ability to respond to adversity and being the proud owners of a quality penalty kill. 12 point lead on Boston? That will do nicely. On to the notes.
- The Rangers started the game on fire; forcing numerous turnovers by the Bruins thanks to a relentless fore-check, their ability to win battles and because they were engaged physically. The Rangers looked to get to the net and that willingness would soon be rewarded.
- The Rangers beginning could be summed up by one player: Brandon Dubinsky. He was clearly motivated, drew a penalty on Zdeno Chara because he looked to take the big Bruin on physically and crashed the net which helped with the Rangers second goal.
- The good and the bad of Anton Stralman: Stralman scored the first Rangers goal (even though it looked to come off Fedotenko) following a rare turnover from Chara. After good pressure by the Rangers and a timely pinch by Stralman he threw the puck on net and beat a screened Thomas. Bad Stralman? Poor decision to toss the puck up the middle on the Bruins goal (hockey basics – down the boards when clearing), the turnover occurred right in front of Lundqvist and Pouliot scored on a quick shot which Lundqvist had no chance on.
- The Rangers second goal was hockey 101. Hagelin’s speed allowed him to get the puck, Dubinsky’s willingness to crash the net caused havoc in front and Hagelin simply getting the puck on net resulted in the puck being deflected past Thomas.
- It was a fast and furious first period for the most part with three fights. Despite the three fights it wasn’t a nasty game at this point. That said, if you offer the Rangers a trade-off of Lucic and Prust going off the ice for five they’d take it every time. Despite that, Prust shouldn’t be going at it with the much bigger, stronger Lucic.
- Following the Boston timeout, goal and subsequent Lucic fight, the Bruins clearly carried the play for several minutes and had serious momentum. They dominated along the boards, had the Rangers penned in for long periods and peppered a very busy Lundqvist.
- The Bruins were willing to shoot from everywhere during the first. Lots of point shots, lots of traffic in front and a simple ‘get it to the net’ attitude. Lundqvist – who had no chance on the Bruins goal – had to be very sharp, particularly in the middle of the period.
- You want development? Del Zotto was shown on the bench listening to advice from Staal. Clearly the kid is listening, willing to take on advice. A few minutes later Del Zotto made a great read and pinch to keep the puck in the Bruins zone (a rare occurrence as the period progressed). Del Zotto, all season, has shown improved decision making ability.
- Hockey rarity: thanks to a Brian Rolston slap shot on the Bruins PP late in the first, the period ended early and the time was tacked on to the second allowing MSG staff to fix a broken pane of glass. 2:53 was left in the period when the teams went to the intermission.
- How not to set the tone for a period: an awful turnover by Dan Girardi led to the Bruins’ game tying goal. First he passed the puck up through center ice as he didn’t see Jordan Caron circling, then he went down to his knees and maybe screened Lundqvist on Caron’s shot that beat the Swede short side. Unfortunately the goal was nothing less than the Bruins dominance deserved.
- A rare trip in to the Bruins end saw great pressure by the Rangers fourth line mid way in the second period.
- The Bruins were flat out dominating the entire period, were a step quicker than the Rangers and controlled the boards with ease.
- Perhaps the only highlight of the second period from a Rangers point of view was the big hit by Girardi that flattened Lucic.
- The penalty kill, led by Lundqvist (of course) continues to be solid, harassing the puck carrier, clearing the zone and more often than not, giving Lundqvist enough sight of the puck.
- At one stage the Bruins were shooting from both sides and each time they missed the net, gathered their own shots along the boards, setting up for the same play time and again. They repeated it for over a minute in what seemed like a powerplay. It wasn’t.
- That said, the second period seemed like one long, twenty minute powerplay for the Bruins. They dominated the Rangers in every facet and had the Rangers on their heels throughout.
- While Lundqvist was busy and able to stop everything bar the early game-tying goal, he did seem to be fighting the puck a little, giving up quite a few rebounds. A result of the Bruins pressure around the net?
- Third period saw Tortorella shake the lines up, as a result of the tilted play in the first two. Gaborik started with Hagelin and Richards at center.
- The Rangers, essentially out of nothing, scored to re-take the lead early in the period. Why? Because Dennis Seidenberg made a bad decision. Having failed to keep the puck in the Rangers zone Seidenberg’s error gave the Rangers a three on one the other way. While Gaborik saw his initial shot saved by Thomas the puck eventually came back to him at the left post and he banked it in. Opportunistic play by the Blueshirts.
- Up until his goal Gaborik was pretty invisible but goal scorers score goals and he didn’t give up on the play despite seeing his initial shot on the breakaway denied by Thomas. He made sure he was around the net and got rewarded. Gaborik was far more active after his goal and looked dangerous.
- Small things: You know Dubinsky is playing well when he looks to shoot. Six minutes in, he broke in and patiently waited for a chance to shoot which Thomas stopped. So often this year, Dubinsky would make the wrong decision and pass up the shot.
- Shortly after the Gaborik goal Lundqvist made a huge stop on a Bruins breakaway. Another clutch stop by the 2012 Vezina winner.
- With the game now end to end, Stepan had a great chance following some slick stick handling out in front but Thomas was equal to it.
- The Rangers were much better in the third at getting the puck in deep, applying pressure and not allowing the Bruins to build much momentum. Unfortunately the Bruins scored a nifty goal to tie it up. Seguin caught Hagelin off balance, blasted past him to set up a three on two. Seguin gave it off to Lucic who set up Krecji who finished off the move. Nothing Lundqvist could do on the goal.
- You want a great response to a goal? One of your own. Following patient play by Del Zotto down the left boards Stepan roofed one top right corner over Thomas. Nice pass from Del Zotto, great shot. The Rangers have scored a few similar goals in recent games (think: Dubinsky in Carolina, Anisimov a few games earlier)
- Not a rookie: Carl Hagelin has a chance to shoot at the empty net as Thomas was pulled but patiently waited until he got over half way to avoid a potential icing. Clever play from the young Swede.
- Cheap shot Artist. Milan Lucic never fails to disappoint. As time expired he tried to blindside Ryan McDonagh in to the boards behind Lundqvist. Naturally, McDonagh took exception to the hit so Lucic sucker punches the blueliner twice in the face. If the league had any sense of justice Lucic would get a game for his actions. Tortorella had to restrain John Scott at the end which was probably the right thing to do. Take the points, move on.
- The fourth line was pretty effective even if it was slower than a glacier.
- Lundqvist was good throughout but got better as the game progressed, particularly with his rebound control
- No complaints on the refereeing today. The delay of game was the right call.
- This team refuses to give in even when it’s being dominated. Stacked with character and determination.
- Carl Hagelin is going to be a star [I state the obvious]
- Who fancies a President’s trophy?
My Three Stars
- Henrik Lundqvist
- Jordan Caron
- Michael Del Zotto