Perhaps you were hoping to see a new Ranger on the ice tonight as a result of the trading deadline. You didn’t get that wish, but tonight, at least, it made no difference. There will surely be pessimists out there citing the fact that the Rangers got a whole 15 shots on goal and only scored once with a goaltender in the opposition net and were 0 for 2 on the powerplay, but the Rangers did what they had to do in order to win. They got the first goal of the game and essentially suffocated any Devils’ attempts at generating offense. And the few opportunities they got were stopped by Lundqvist. In order to win hockey games you need to adapt to the flow of each game, because each one is going to be different. And usually games against the Devils don’t feature a lot of offense. So while this is hardly the marquee win of the season, the Rangers got the job done. They capitalized on an opportunity early. They stayed out of the penalty box in a game that was begging for petty penalties (Dave Clarkson can’t say the same). And they held Parise, Elias, and Kovalchuk to three total shots. Let’s review the game.
Henrik Lundqvist: Not the most difficult shutout he’s had to earn, but he made all the saves he had to. His eight shutouts this season now lead the NHL and he has extended his record of consecutive 30 win seasons to start a career to seven. Other than that, there isn’t much we can say that hasn’t been said before, so I’ll let my friend Alex sum it up for you.
Fuck henrik. The dude is a fucking wall. Hands down best goalie in hockey and this is coming from a devils fan
— Alex Taroff (@sChLoM0) February 28, 2012
Carl Hagelin: He’s been a bit quieter in February but tonight he might have been the best forward on the ice. A good shot to beat Brodeur and get the first goal of the game and his speed and persistence were on display as he set up Callahan for the empty netter. Aside from that, he used his speed the whole game to develop a forecheck and he was solid in the defensive zone. This was Hagelin’s best game in a while and I hope he builds off of it.
Ryan McDonagh: Sorry Columbus, but you never had a chance of taking him from us. McDonagh shut down Zach Parise the entire night and specifically rode him into the boards and completely took him out of the play on one instance that gave Pierre McGuire convulsions.
Ryan Callahan: Another strong game from Captain America after he scored the overtime winner on Saturday. He made a fantastic effort behind the net and got just enough on the pass to set up Hagelin for the first goal and of course he tapped in the empty netter to seal it. Outside of that he led everybody on both teams with six hits (though Boyle matched that number), blocked two shots, and didn’t take any crap from the Devils when they were looking for trouble.
Not much else to say. This was the kind of game where the team’s system and identity as a whole shone far more than individual players. After two frustrating losses in a row to the Devils the Rangers get the momentum in the matchup back with this victory and create even more separation between themselves and the Devils in the battle for Atlantic Division Champion. The Rangers are now nine points ahead of the Bruins (though the Bruins have a game in hand) and are nine points ahead of the Penguins for the division lead with a game in hand of their own.
The Rangers have off now until Thursday, when they travel to Carolina and face off against the Hurricanes. John Scott will presumably be with the team and ready to play, though I don’t know if you can justify taking out any defensemen in order to put him in after tonight’s effort.