Last night’s result against the Devils was certainly a frustrating way to start the second half of the season, so it was key that the Rangers not only play a solid game tonight but come away with a win as well. Well, they did play solid. Defensively they were sound, blocking plenty of shots and making the neutral zone relatively impermeable. Offensively… well that’s another story. Give credit to Ryan Miller for a great game but it still is not exactly comforting to watch the Rangers struggle to score in a game like this. Nonetheless, though, the Rangers did what they needed to do in order to get the victory, and after letting a game they deserved to win last night slip away, some garbage points are certainly welcome. Let’s review the game:
Henrik Lundqvist: 34 saves tonight to earn his 6th shutout of the season and the 41st of his career. He’s now 9 behind Eddie Giacomin’s record of 39 shutouts with the Rangers.
Henrik Lundqvist: The Rangers were unable to avoid the penalty box tonight, giving Buffalo five powerplay opportunities. Luckily, one of the best PK units in the NHL was able to hold them off, and Lundqvist of course was the main man.
Dan Girardi: The guy was an absolute warrior tonight (what else is new). Almost 31 minutes of ice-time and he blocked three shots. His positioning was nearly flawless and even if he wasn’t physically blocking a shot he was getting his body in a shooting lane, eliminating a shooting opportunity for the Sabres. I think the word “consistent” describes Dan Girardi very well and it’s rare to see a game where he doesn’t do these things. However, I think he went above and beyond tonight. Anyone who questioned what Dan Girardi was doing at the All-Star Game hopefully watched tonight’s game.
Henrik Lundqvist: For his absolutely fearless header on a long-range drive. When a puck hits Rick Dipietro in the head he gets a concussion, but Henrik puts his face in front of shots like it’s nothing.
Power-Play: Still pathetic, and if you’re John Tortorella you have to feel somewhat helpless. No matter what combinations he puts out there the job doesn’t get done. The 4 on 3 in overtime was as good of an opportunity as the Rangers had all game but they didn’t really come close to scoring. It appeared that the Rangers weren’t even trying to do anything other than let Richards and Gaborik shoot from the point. We can talk about potential trading deadline additions all we want but with options like Richards, Gaborik, Del Zotto, Dubinsky, Anisimov, and Stepan personnel is not the issue; there is no reason why in theory this team should be this abysmal with a man advantage.
Henrik Lundqvist: For not letting the team lose in terrible fashion for the second night in a row. The Sabres out-shot the Rangers 12 to 6 in the 3rd period and the Sabres could have easily won the game in the final minutes of regulation with the Rangers trying to kill a penalty. But Henrik said “no” to the Sabres each time they tried to beat him.
Henrik Lundqvist: Stopped four of five attempts by the Buffalo Sabres in the shootout. His save on Brad Boyes was unbelievable. With the team’s inability to score in the shootout Lundqvist was not going to have much room for mistake, but he kept the puck out long enough for Callahan to finally end it.
While the way last night’s game against the Devils ended still leaves a bad taste in my mouth and while they didn’t exactly light up the Sabres tonight, the fact of the matter is that the Rangers came off an extended break and put three points out of a possible four in the bank while on the road. The Rangers are now three points ahead of the Bruins, though Boston has a game in hand. The Rangers now have a bit of a break again as they’re without any games until Sunday against the Flyers.