Well I guess its just a coastal thing. The Rangers returned back to the East Coast to play the Washington Capitals and found themselves their 2nd win on their young season. Arguably could be used as their best game so far, the Rangers looked poised for victory from the drop of the puck.
We all know how disgusting that West Coast trip was, most of us would like to forget it even happened (except for the LA game). Unfortunately it did, and under a new coach and new style of play a lot of their mistakes had been exploited. After grabbing their first win in LA, they were downright manhandled in San Jose & Anaheim. They gave up 25 goals in their first 5 games, something Rangers teams of years past haven’t even given up in a months worth of games. But tonight, this team looked like a team ready to prove those were fluke games & that that wasn’t the “real” Rangers team.
Before the game, Head Coach Alain Vingeault said to beat the Caps the Rangers needed to stay discipline, get pucks in deep and make them work. That’s exactly what they did. Although, it didn’t come without its heart stopping moments in the first period. The Rangers took two penalties back to back putting the Capitals deadly PP on a 5 on 3 for well over a minute. With playmakers like Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Green & Nicklas Backstrom that’s usually a recipe for disaster. It almost was when a quick bang bang pass play landed right on the stick of rugged forward Joel Ward at the side of the net, but he completely fanned on the puck and missed the opportunity to go up 1-0 early on. Easily can say that kill is what gave the Rangers their momentum in the game. It was almost like these two teams normal playoff games. Go into the other teams barn for the first time, and weather the storm. Although the Rangers dominated most of the first period, I’m sure coming out of the tunnel their goal was to not be behind after 1. & that’s exactly what they did.
The second period is when this team sprung to life. Its been a while since i’ve this team skate and dominate the game the way they did. From the second period on I found myself think, Nash who? Michael Del Zotto, who? It almost had a Tortorella run team feel to it, but with a lot more tempo. so lets say it was 1/3 Tortorella, 2/3 Vingeault. The Rangers grabbed a Powerplay early in the period & pushed from there. They fired 5 shots on goal, probably close to 8 or 9 total. Those are numbers we didn’t even see in 4/5 chances for the team last year. They didn’t convert but kept the pressure on. A phenomenal possession by the Rangers 4th line eventually helped lead to the goal shortly after Alex Ovechkin took a slashing call while his team was up a man midway through the 2nd. Rangers played stellar down low on the 4 v 4 and eventually a puck squeeked its way out towards the point where defense-man John Moore fired an absolute laser of a wrist shot off the crossbar and in. Holtby didn’t even move. They didn’t stop, they kept being persistent on the puck and digging down low which eventually helped lead to the 2nd goal. Less than 2 minutes after the J. Moore goal, Ryan Callahan showed some unreal hand eye coordination knocking his own pass deflection out of mid-air and into the back of the net for the 2-0 lead. The period would end the same score, and the Rangers were up 32-14 in the shot count. WOAH.
The one player who’s been noticeable in every game so far has been Brad Richards. He’s playing like a veteran and he’s playing like the player we pay over $6 million dollars a season for. Tonight was no different, he was shooting the puck, throwing his body around, moving his feet and doing what we all know he could do. Pass! He had the primary assist on both Rangers goals now giving him 7 points in the first 6 games. He’s playing almost as if he’s in a contract year. Lets hope he keeps it up.
Oh yeah, then there’s that handsome Swede in between the pipes. Henrik Lundqvist. Hank showed exactly why he won the Vezina two years ago, he played stellar. When the D had a little gander in the zone, he was there to bail them out. Many thought he’d have a hard time adjusting to the new pad restrictions. Especially since he’s well known for playing deep in his crease. But tonight he played like the Henrik Lundqvist we all know and love. I know I didn’t to the third period yet, but here’s a little fun fact for you. After tonight’s shutout, Henrik Lundqvist has now shutout the Capitals in 3 straight games going back to last years playoffs. Some streak, eh?
Going into the third period, many Rangers fans were wondering what team we would see. The team from last year who would grab a lead and then sit on it, usually coming back to bite them in the rear OR a team that would go for the Jugular. Well they didn’t exactly go for the throat but they didn’t sit back either. The Caps were limited to only 8 shots in the 3rd while the Rangers managed 4. & as usual, they shut down Star winger Alex Ovechkin. Man it must be frustrating for him having to see Lundqvist. Ovechkin is now scoreless in his last 6 games against the Rangers & only has 1 goal and 1 assists in his last 8 games.
All around, this team battled and fought and clawed their way to a victory tonight. A well deserved victory. Lets hope they keep it up in New Jersey for Saturday nights rivalry game with the Devils. Although they wont be the home team, it should feel somewhat like a home game. Usually many Blueshirt faithfuls fill the seats in the Prudential Center.
Lets Go Rangers !