There is good news and bad news for the Islanders when the Rangers come to the Coliseum. The good news. The place is sold out, thanks to Ranger fans. The bad news. The Rangers kick the hell out of the Islanders. In the last 14 games at the Coliseum the Rangers have won 11 times. Last night the Rangers held a party. Jagr broke Jean Ratelle's Ranger season scoring record. Lundqvist broke the Ranger rookie record for most wins in a season. Petr Prucha tied Camille Henry's record for most power play goals by a Ranger rookie, set in 1953-54. Oh, did I forget to tell you that Martin Straka got a natural hat trick? In the words of maestro Jaromir Jagr, it was the most quiet hat trick he ever saw.
The game ended early. The only suspense was whether Jagr would break Graves' Ranger record of 52 goals. He didn't but he did garner 4 assists. The fourth assist brought the crowd to its feet thinking it was a goal but alas it hit off Straka's leg and still the crowd chanted, MVP! MVP! Jagr now has a seven point lead over Joe Thornton for the scoring race. There was a report in the Times that he plans to retire when his contract expires in two years. Why? Just the other day he was telling us that his father said he would hit his peak when he gets to 37. Two years would get him to 36. C'mon Jags, give us a few more after this run. Watching a super star performing like a super star, carrying his team on his back is a joy to behold and we are lucky to be in on this happening. Compare this to the Islanders and their supposed super star, Alexei Yashin, and you see the difference. MVP! MVP! MVP!
The Prince had a relaxing game for a change, Yashin spoiling his shutout bid. He made 18 saves in achieving his 30th win breaking the jointly held records of "Sugar" Jim Henry (1941-42) and Johnny Bower (1953-54). Its kind of sad for me because I won't be mentioning those two every day now and I did see both play and they were good. However, I believe that the Prince has the potential to accomplish more than they did. God bless Jim Henry and Johnny Bower who are now forever etched in Ranger lore.
Tom Renney had a good game also. He rested Tyutin as Kasparaitis returned. Good move, Fedor needed a day off. Renney reunited the HMO line and they were their usual aggressive selves. Hollweg exhibited no caution with his hits, returning from his three game suspension. Colton Orr was put on a line with Blair Betts and Jason Ward and they were very effective and Betts scored a goal. Orr mixed it up with Eric Godard again with little consequence, Orr going after Godard who along with Petteri Nokelainen sandwiched Kasparaitis into the boards. Good move by Orr. Orr also tangled with John Erskine who wanted Malik after Malik had elbowed Blake behind the Ranger net. Oh, what a tangled web these skaters spin. We should call the Betts, Orr, Ward line the BOW line.
Now on to Ottawa and a battle with the first in the East, Senators. They are too far ahead to catch, nine points, but would you believe we are only six points behind Carolina for second place? Right now any combination of five points, either by a Ranger win or Thrasher defeat and we are in the playoffs, officially. And we laughed when the Rangers sent out the playoff ticket application.
ICINGS: Post Olympic final 24 now stands at 6-5-1-3 with nine to go. The Rangers 94 points and 41 wins ties them for seventh place in both categories for most points and most wins by the franchise.
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