Much like in the Avengers movie, it took the Rangers a long time to figure out exactly how to defeat their opponent today and there were likely a number of mistakes made along the way, though none ultimately fatal. And like in the Avengers movie, it as a rather bumpy, if not ugly ride to ultimately achieving success (spoiler alert: The good guys win. If you haven’t seen the movie by now you deserved to have it ruined for you).
So while John Tortorella will point out to his troopers that the Rangers might not be lucky enough to get outplayed for the first two periods of a game and still come away with a win, it didn’t matter today. The Rangers did what they do best, just like the Avengers, and that is hold their own and allow no irreparable damage before changing the tides and coming with their own firepower. So as the Rangers take a 2-1 lead for the third straight series this year, here is your Avengers themed post-game.
Thor- He’s Scandinavian and he’s a god. Just like Henrik Lundqvist. Thor also has the ability to track flying objects traveling at the speed of light with ease. Lundqvist certainly was able to track down any flying pucks shot in his direction today. Henke was certainly god-like today with his second shutout of the series. The Devils outshot the Rangers 26-14 through two periods and had a number of special teams opportunities. But nothing got past Henrik. Breakaways, screens, odd man rushes, it didn’t matter what the Devils tried because Henrik was on top of his game tonight. He ended the game with 36 saves on 36 shots and a well deserved 1st star.
Iron Men- Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, and Ryan McDonagh continue to be the Iron Men on the blue-line for the New York Rangers. Despite cries of how tired the Rangers’ defensemen would be after Tortorella opted to play them forever against the Capitals and particularly in the triple overtime game, these three look as fresh as ever and continue to be the best players on the ice every shift. Iron Man’s suit gives him superhuman durability and these three defensemen seem to possess that just the same. It was Dan Girardi’s turn to be the best of the three tonight as he led the team in shorthanded minutes on a PK that shutout the Devils and he shot a laser beam past Brodeur to give the Rangers the lead. Those who laughed at Girardi’s All-Star nomination now look silly, as he leads all defensemen in playoff points right now with 11. Staal and McDonagh were very good themselves and gave the Devils little to work with tonight. It’s been said time and time again but it is worth repeating; Staal, Girardi, and McDonagh are probably the three most important players besides Henrik on this roster and they played a big part in another shutout today.
Captain America- Rochester born and Rangers captain Ryan Callahan certainly fits the mold of Captain America. Though he’s struggled in recent games and has been met with some criticism, Callahan stepped up his play today. Like Captain America he has no particular great assets but it is his intelligence, team-first mentality, and sacrificial nature that makes him such an asset. He was the team’s best forward defensively and specifically on the penalty kill and did a little bit of everything tonight. Three hits and a blocked shot. He was a catalyst for the Kreider goal and his work in the defensive zone in the last two minutes led to him putting the game away with an empty netter. A much better effort from Ryan Callahan.
Hulk- Though he struggles at times to harness his abilities in productive ways, Chris Kreider is an absolute physical freak of nature. In the Avengers movie, the Avengers had to do without the Hulk for much of the movie but when he did come it made a big difference. The same can be said for Kreider, who did not come to New York until the playoffs but is definitely making a big difference. His strength is apparent every shift as no Devil seems to be able to knock him off the puck along the boards and he was probably the best forward on the ice for the Rangers after two periods of very little offense from the team. With his goal tonight Kreider has three goals in three games this series. And with five goals and seven points this postseason he now holds the record for most goals and points by an NHL player before playing in his first regular season game. For all the hype that Kreider came in with, it’s unimaginable to think that he might be surpassing it.
Ugly game, but a win is a win. And if the Rangers can finish off the series then nobody will remember or care for what happened in the first two periods of this game. In the Ottawa and Washington series’ the Rangers came away with a big Game Three win but dropped the ball in Game Four. Can the Rangers put a death grip on the Devils with a win in the next game or will they let the Devils back into the series? Let’s hope they don’t make this series as dramatic as the Avengers’ movie, but today we can be happy enough with a win in a very important Game Three.