Sunday, February 14, 2010
After an excellent road win in Pittsburgh (3-2, OTW), which has been a house of horrors for the Rangers in recent years, the boys headed home for a 1 PM matinee. The Rangers squared off against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who just came off of a loss to the New York Islanders the day prior. Like in Pittsburgh, there was no Gaborik or Del Zotto. The Rangers needed to get these 2 very important points before the Olympic break.
Early on, the game didn’t look too good for the Rangers. The Rangers looked slow, lifeless, and really uninterested. As a result, the scoreboard showed it. Down 2-0 with the fans showing their displeasure, the Rangers turned it around with a 4-goal 2nd period. Sean Avery ignited the boys in blue with a gorgeous goal on a penalty shot. On the shot, he completely faked out Mike Smith and roofed a beauty high into the empty net. From there, King Henrik Lundqvist had to make several key saves- especially on Nate Thompson and Marty St. Louis- to keep the Rangers within reach.
Vinny Prospal evened the game on a nice rebound shot with traffic all around the Tampa net. From there, Erik Christensen took over as he scored 2 goals in a row. The first goal was a nice 5-hole shot and the other was very Gaborik-like. It was Gaborik-like in the sense that he got the shot off extremely fast and the quick release surprised Mike Smith. Honestly, that second goal surprised me as well! Christensen should have had the hat trick as he missed 2 glorious opportunities on his next shift. Oh well… who’s complaining? Chris Drury finished off the scoring with an empty netter to make the final score 5-2 in favor of the Rangers.
Some of my observations from the game… first, the bad. How many times are we going to watch the Rangers forget that the game starts when the puck drops in the 1st period? Duh? I just don’t understand it at all. Obviously, the players don’t either. Lastly, there are way too many odd man rushes against the Rangers. If not for some outstanding goaltending by Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers could have easily been blown out of this game in the 2nd period. Now we’ll focus on the good in this game. I didn’t get to see the win over the Penguins (I was working a Bobcats game), but it sure was nice to see the fight and resiliency that the Rangers showed in Pittsburgh as well as the comeback today. These 2 wins and 4 points will go a long way for the Rangers if they are going to grab a playoff spot. For now, at least, it keeps them close and in decent position to make a good run at it after the Olympic break. Also, isn’t it nice to see the other teams having to be aware of the sudden "toughness" that the Rangers have with (recent acquisition) Jody Shelley, Brandon Prust, and Aaron Voros? It’s been a while, but believe me… teams will take notice if they haven’t already.
Have fun watching the Olympic hockey everyone. But to me, what still counts first is the how the Rangers finish the season… and in 2 weeks or so, we shall find out! Over and out!