This was not a measuring stick game for the Rangers by any means. The already mediocre Jets were without Byfuglien and Burmistrov tonight so this was a game that the Rangers not only should have won but should have won without much drama. but give them credit for getting the job done. Coming off a huge game against the Bruins and with the All-Star break in sight, there was definitely room for a Rangers let down. It was a rather simple game but it is what it is. The Rangers are a great team and the Jets are an average team, and that was reflected on the ice. Let’s look at some post-game notes one last time before the All-Star Break.
Henrik Lundqvist- The Blueshirts clearly out-chanced the Jets and Henrik suffocated any attempts by the Jets to get back into the game. An incredibly alert play to move his leg away in time to let a sliding puck go untouched away from the net as well as multiple great saves, including an absolute robbery of Tanner Glass with a stretched leg. 22 saves to get his fifth shutout of the season and the 40th of his career, tying him with Dave Kerr for second all-time among Rangers. Only nine behind the great Eddie Giacomin, it’s a matter of when, not if, Henrik Lundqvist breaks the record.
Ryan Callahan- A lot of the focus has been on Brad Richards’ struggles, but I don’t think Callahan has been at his best during the month of January either. He has been much better the past few games, though, and tonight he put up a goal and an assist. Though he’s struggled at times, Callahan has 17 goals so far this season, which is only 6 away form his career high in a season of 23.
Brad Richards- Brad looked much better against the Bruins, though it didn’t show up on the scoresheet. Tonight, he finally got a bounce. Not the best shot of his career but he put himself in the right position and got a shot off. He also contributed elsewhere, throwing two hits and winning 66% of his faceoffs. Even the most experienced and historically successful players can slump and can feel the effects of it, and Brad definitely appeared frustrated in interviews prior to scoring tonight. I think it will be good for him mentally to break the slump with a goal as we head towards the All-Star break.
Powerplay- Another unsuccessful night for the PP, going 0 for 4. It looked much better tonight but it still came up empty, and that’s just not acceptable for a team successful in almost every other aspect. Aside from giving the guys time to let bumps and bruises subside and regroup mentally, I think the biggest positive the All-Star break will have for the team is that it allows the coaching staff time to watch tape and focus on how to make it work. And though Gaborik and Girardi will be in Ottawa, there are still many players staying in New York who get power play shifts and they will work on figuring out how the hell to fix it. The Rangers have managed to succeed despite an abysmal powerplay, so this getting it to work certainly isn’t a life or death situation, but getting it to even decent standards might be the difference between a 2nd round exit and a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
Overall, an easy, even if nondescript, victory for the team and a pleasant way to end the first part of the season. We’ve had numerous bumps along the way and there are still necessary improvements and a lot of question marks, but I think everybody would have signed up for 1st place in the NHL on January 24th.