Finally, a full team, three-period spirited effort by the Rangers. They played hard, not missing any chance to hit; backchecked consistently, especially in the key spots; cleared pucks very well from around their net; and saw Lundqvist play one of his best games of the season.
And of course Marian Gaborik returned after missing two games due to a lower body injury. And return he did, netting the lone goal of the game on a quick shot above Tim Thomas’ glove and logging 21:37 quality minutes on the power play, penalty kill, and regular strength. He was a force, even if he looked to be playing at about 90%.
No one played poorly. But worthy of special note are Higgins (who played his best game as a Ranger, especially on the defensive end and on the pk); Del Zotto (including some big hits, notably one on Marchand after Marchand tried to decapitate him earlier on the shift); and Lundqvist (who notched his 150th NHL win and 21st NHL shutout, and donated his stick to a lucky fan after the game — a sure sign he was pumped).
While there was nothing from this game to focus on negatively (though I am sure Tortorella will find something, as all coaches do), it is a little scary that we have played well only when Gaborik is in the lineup. Clearly he is one of the elite players in the world, so it stands that the team is notably better with him in the lineup. But the Rangers need to become a more balanced offensive team. And have a more effective power play when he’s not on it. All things to focus on in the future. But not today. This game was a solid win and hopefully a foundation to build on during the upcoming western road trip.
Random Other Game Notes: How was there no boarding call when Chara blasted Callahan from behind, regardless of how big and strong he is???…Finally the Rangers announcers noted that Callahan’s (and possibly others, though they did not say this part) decreased performance during the losing stretch could be related to post-flu effects…Tim Thomas also was excellent in net, and could not be faulted on the goal…Gilroy made a terrific defensive play early in the game on a 2-1, taking away both the shot and the pass…I love Original Six matchups– there’s just something about them that gets you excited…It was a very well officiated game (both in terms of calls and non-calls).