A week ago Jaromir Jagr said he felt something good was going to happen, he could feel it. I was waiting, the faithful were waiting. Well we wait no more, unless Jagr has more tricks on his sticks or his opponents sticks. With 33.8 seconds to go in the game Jagr put one past goalie Jocelyn Thibault off the stick of Pens defenseman Robert Scuderi and the Rangers were 2-1 winners in a game that lifted them up to seventh place, one point behind sixth place Tampa Bay. How sweet Caroline it is.
Jagr's 25th of the year was also the 106th career game winning goal of his career putting him in fourth place all time, four behind third place Brett Hull's 110 and fifteen behind all time leader Gordie Howe who has 121 game winners. Phil Esposito is second with 118. Brendan Shanahan is fifth with 105.
Blair Betts (9) had given the Rangers a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the third period. It looked like it would hold up but Michel Ouellet (16) tied it at the 14:18 mark of the period on a rare breakdown by the Rangers. I say rare because the Rangers played one of their finest defensive games of the year holding the Pens to just 22 shots on goal. Besides scoring the first goal, Blair Betts played an outstanding game getting four shots on goal, two hits and basically shutting down Sidney Crosby, who had only two shots on goal, both in the first period, which in essence stymied the Pittsburgh offense. From my viewpoint Blair Betts was the star of the game. The NY sportswriters voted Jagr, Lundqvist and Thibault in that order, the three stars of the game. What the hell do they know.
The win put the Rangers in seventh place, one point ahead of Carolina and one point behind Tampa Bay who is in sixth place. All three teams have nine games to play. The Islanders, Toronto and Montreal are two points behind eighth place Carolina and three points behind the Rangers. The Islanders have eleven games to play, Toronto ten and Montreal nine. The loss kept Pittsburgh from tying the Devils for first place in the Atlantic Division.
In the last eleven games the Rangers are 7-1-3, picking up 17 points out of a possible 22. They beat a red hot Penguin team, 8-1-1, coming into this game. This is the first time the Rangers have beaten the Penguins in regulation and are now 3-2-2 against the Pens. Conversely the Pens are 4-1-2 against the Rangers. Simply stated, we have picked up 8 points in the seven games and the Pens have 10 points in the seven games. Go figure. Only in the NHL folks, only in the NHL.
The last meeting of these two teams takes place Saturday, April 7th, in Pittsburgh, and it will be the last game of the season for both teams. Lets hope that the Rangers have everything settled by then, but by then Jagr may be having more good things happening.
ICINGS: Jason Strudwick put in 12:15 of ice time, no shots, no hits and basically was OK. I would rather have seen David Liffiton play who was more involved in the Bruins game. Good news, bad news. First the good. Brendan Shanahan will return against the Flyers. Bad news. Brandon Dubinsky, who only got 6:19 of ice time, goes back to Hartford. Same thing will happen when Tyutin and Rachunek return. Then Pock and maybe Girardi sit and these two guys have been solid and have been a huge part of the Ranger resurgence. Then we will have the same lineup back that was treading water, going nowhere and leaving Lundqvist out to dry. Keep Dubinsky and Callahan and bench Isbister and Orr. Callahan had five shots on goal and three hits in 15:23 of ice time. These young kids have given the Rangers the life and lift that they so desperately needed. They have ignited a spark that was missing all year. Now that I think of it lets get a young coach, a guy like Craig MacTavish, I'm tired of looking at Tom Renney and listening to his stupid pronouncements.
March 20, 2007
NY Daily News:
A Blueshirt bounce
Straka, Shanny could return tomorrow
Rangers get some help