Tonight’s game was the final one before the trading deadline on Monday at 3PM ET, and the team needed a strong performance after a rocky shootout loss against the Islanders yesterday. Tonight, the Rangers did what they do better than any other team in the NHL; put a halt to a losing streak before it can even begin. The Rangers outshot the Sabres 28-20 and definitely were the better team tonight. Overtime has been great to the Rangers this season. The shootout has not. Luckily, Captain America found the back of the net on an excellent move past Patrick Kaleta. And thus, the Rangers come away with two points that they sorely needed. Let’s look at some post-game notes.
Marc Staal- I don’t think Marc Staal is at his very best yet and I don’t know if he’s going to return to that form 100% at any point this season. That being said, he’s pretty damn close to it and our team is much better with Staal on the ice than they are with him off it. Staal has been excellent in all three zones the last few games and tonight came very close to scoring his second powerplay goal in as many games. It took a while but Marc Staal is playing great hockey, and anyone who at any point thought he was expandable is hopefully rethinking that belief.
Brandon Dubinsky- Another night where the scoring log does not do Brandon Dubinsky’s game justice. He was active in the offensive zone and was trying to make plays the whole night. The question now is if Dubinsky is going to be a Ranger for Monday night’s game. There is some belief that the Columbus Blue Jackets would rather add Derek Stepan than Brandon Dubinsky in a trade for Rick Nash but that Sather is refusing to commit to that. Could a strong game like tonight’s lead to Columbus accepting Dubinsky instead of Stepan? Or could it make Sather think twice about moving him?
Brad Richards- I thought Richards had his best game in a while. The Rangers need Richards to be a catalyst for offense and tonight he certainly was. Richards had five shots tonight and was moving the puck well. He made a good decision with the puck that led to Carl Hagelin’s goal and showed initiative the entire night. Brad Richards knows he needs to one of the best players on the ice every night and tonight he returned back to form.
Michael Del Zotto- Del Zotto was superb tonight. His setup of Gaborik’s goal was world class and he was very good in his own end as well. Presumably his hip injury is nothing to be concerned about and we better hope so.
The win puts the Rangers 9 points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the division lead and the Rangers have a game in hand. We now sit and wait to see what Glen Sather and the New York Rangers do from now until Monday. I don’t know if Rick Nash will end up a Ranger but I would be very surprised if the Rangers did absolutely nothing.