Yes I understand that part of the title is referencing an obscure citrus beverage but it’s fitting for the Rangers right now. With their victory over the Florida Panthers, it gives them a FIVE game winning streak and 7 wins in their last 8 games, keeping their playoff aspirations very much ALIVE. Get it? Moving on…
To be fair, this was a very tough game to watch on television and I’m sure in attendance as well. There wasn’t much in terms of exciting hockey being presented at Madison Square Garden except for the end result. Let’s see how the Rangers arrived to it…
Henrik Lundqvist only needed 22 saves for his 10th shutout of the season, tying his career high. It also leads the NHL. Hank wasn’t called on to stand on his head in the game but came up with saves when needed. Does his name begin to get thrown into the Vezina argument (32 wins, 2.3 GAA, 10 SO)? I think he deserves it.
The Pack Line a.k.a Callahan-Anisimov-Dubinsky continues to make impressive strides playing along side each other. Callahan continues his point-per-game pace since returning from his hand injury with an assist (24 pts in 22 gms), Dubinsky scores his 22nd of the season (ties his career high), and Anisimov now has 11 points (4g, 7a) in his last 9. Rangers’ fans clamored for years to develop homegrown talent and finally have it with a young, gritty, talented Pack Line.
Hats off to Panthers G Tomas Vokun for a stellar 32 save performance tonight. If not for his key saves at times the score could have easily been 5-0, 6-0. He did what he usually does; give his team a chance to win most nights.
Stat of the night: This is first game since January 9th, 2009 against Buffalo that the Rangers did not take a penalty. More disciplined play? Possibly. It might be due to the fact the Rangers weren’t in Pittsburgh. Just a hunch.
Steve Eminger played a solid game and looked much more comfortable playing with Dan Girardi than he did in Pittsburgh. You hope the Staal injury isn’t severe and he’s back sooner rather than later, but Eminger has stepped up in his absence.
The Not-so Good:
Wojtek Wolski was a non-factor tonight. Everything he did on the ice was counter-productive. Granted, his line mates Stepan and Zuccarrello weren’t particularly great tonight either, but Wolski stood out more. And considering he’s on the bubble of being in or out of the lineup, tonight’s performance doesn’t help matters.
You would have liked to see Marian Gaborik continue his recent resurgence. Prior to tonight’s match up, Gaborik had goals in 3 straight games and points in 5. He had a couple of scoring chances (4 SOG, 17:18 TOI) but didn’t amount to anything. Hopefully just a bump in the road.
Where They Stand:
Another victory puts the Rangers at 84 points (40-30-4), 3 points behind 6th place Montreal. However, the teams chasing the Rangers also won their games tonight. Both Buffalo and Carolina won their games in regulation, putting them at 81 points (36-28-9) and 78 points (34-29-10), respectively. Each team has a game in hand on the Rangers as well.
Anyone who caught my article this morning saw that I wrote the Rangers were facing the Thrashers Thursday. That is not even the ballpark. The Rangers face the SENATORS at 7:00PM to conclude a 2-game home stand. In this day and age of the Internet and information at your fingertips, talk about a big mistake.
Make sure to check out David’s view of the game from the Panthers’ side at The Rat Trick.