The Rangers, statistically the best team in the NHL, faced off against the Blue Jackets, statistically the worst team in the NHL. There’s no reason a game like this should be a struggle. But then again, this is the New York Rangers. A Del Zotto goal taken away because of Toronto’s “official clock” saying time was up. A late goal by Rick Nash (of all people) to tie it up. Of course the Rangers would have to make us all hold our breath until they could finish it off in overtime.
That’s not to say the Rangers didn’t play well. After an absolutely miserable game against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Rangers outshot the Blue Jackets 35-23 and held the puck in the Blue Jackets’ zone for much of the game. Was it closer than it should have been? Perhaps. But there’s no doubt the Rangers were the better team tonight and with a few bounces in the other direction they could have won by four goals. ultimately, they made up for last game’s disaster and got the two points. Let’s look at post-game thoughts.
Michael Del Zotto- I do not know how Michael Del Zotto was not one of the three stars. He logged 25 minutes tonight and had an astounding three takeovers while not turning over the puck himself once. He made two phenomenal passes to set up the first goal of the game and the overtime winner. A fraction of a second more in his favor and he has the goal.
With the two points tonight Del Zotto has 32 points on the season. To put that in perspective, Nik Lidstrom has played two more games than MDZ and has 31 points. Now obviously Lidstrom is still a better player than Del Zotto and I’m not trying to prove otherwise. But it’s a good indicator of exactly how well Michael Del Zotto is playing this season. Reports surfaced that the Rangers will not engage in any trade discussions surrounding Del Zotto (as well as McDonagh) and it’s a damn good thing this is the case.
Rick Nash- I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons of a Rick Nash trade and I’m not going to give my opinion one way or the other right now. But I will say that watching tonight’s game, one has to be impressed with the guy. For all intents and purposes he is by himself. He might as well just go on the ice himself because he gets absolutely no help. Nonetheless, he still throws five hits, gets four shots, generates offense by himself, and scores a big goal off a great shot. I’m not sure a trade is worth it or if his contract is tolerable, but at face value it’s easy to see how Rick Nash would add significant fire power to this roster.
Jeff Carter- Spending multiple years with the Flyers, Rangers fans now first-hand how effective Jeff Carter can be. But tonight he was a total non-factor. The guy is a sniper and yet he only attempted to shots; one being on goal. Columbus is obviously in dire need of offensive help and a guy they acquired to do so showed no interest tonight in stepping up. With trade rumors circulating, the Rangers will at least be a speculated destination for Carter. I don’t know if I want him if he’s going to play like he did tonight. I don’t care if it’s because he’s not happy being in Columbus. Rick Nash is dealing with it the right way. Jeff Carter isn’t.
Other than that, nothing out of the ordinary. Lundqvist was solid but didn’t have to do too much. Richards had a good goal and Gaborik, Stepan, Anismov, Girardi, and McDonagh had the usual strong games. With the win the Rangers are now nine points ahead of the Bruins for first in the Conference (although the Bruins have a game in hand). We’re also 10 points ahead of both the Penguins and Flyers for first in the division with one game in hand on the Flyers and two on the Penguins. Not a season defining game or anything of the sort, but ultimately the Rangers got the job done and made sure to bounce back from an absolutely pathetic performance against the Blackhawks. And they also got themselves two points closer to clinching the division and first in the Conference.