The new Ranger Captain broke out of his mini slump last night against the Islanders with two goals. Chris Drury rose to the occasion last night at the Coliseum to lead the Rangers to a 4-2 win. Of course the star of the game was The Prince, Henrik Lundqvist, who was unbelievable when he had to. I really have to stop saying that, he's always unbelievable. In ten games he has a 1.99 GAA and .927 save %. The two goals last night were not his fault.
The Islanders played without DiPietro, Witt and Andy Sutton all injured, so a big part of their team was out. While the Rangers did not play one of their better games they did get two points and that is what the NHL is all about. The Rangers outshot the Islanders 39-30 while the Islanders outhit the Rangers by a whopping 32-17. The Islanders did seem to be more determined than the Rangers but that usually happens in this rivalry where the supposed underdog seems to outplay the favorite. I know it is a cliche but the standings really don't matter when these two teams get together.
There seems to be some criticism of the team's performance in some circles this morning and while some of it may be justified there could be a very good reason for it. The Rangers have played the most games of any team in the league and have one more in October which will bring the grand total to 13. The closest team is Anaheim which has played 10 games and has 10 points. They are still trying to find the right combinations on both offense and defense.
Their power play continues to be moribund at 14.5%. There are only six teams with a worse PP percentage. Their penalty kill is a robust 91.7%, second in the NHL. I think the team lacks a basic toughness, especially on the defense.
I am not pleased with the lack of ice team given to Petr Prucha and Lauri Korpikoski seems to have disappeared. However they are 9-2-1 and that is the overriding issue. So far they have seemed to find a way to win. Also, so far they have swept their Eastern rivals, The Devils, Islanders, Flyers and Pittsburgh. However, it is a long season and their are still 70 games to go.
Yes, the team is leading the league, but there are some big uglies in that sweet cup of Joe. Zherdev, for one, has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse. A smattering of Rangerland worries:
The Dark Ranger:
Our boys do not seem to be playing great hockey -- it feels unreal that we are leading anything at this point, let alone the LEAGUE!!? With an actual working system in place and our coach Tom Renney every evening working on his chemistry set, we are seeing improvements as the season progresses (with the exception of our defense.....side note - "thank you Henrik again and again!") one would think we have more to look forward to....Hockey Rodent sees "Bad Times Looming"
I'm telling you here and now that the past three games (despite generating six points) are screaming a message of imminent humility.Amanda Panda:
Last season, nobody believed what I was preaching until six or seven games into the crash and burn. There's winning. And then there's winning for the wrong reasons. Lately, it's the latter.
I say, the fix begins with relegating Naslund to the nether lines...
Who Did Not Look So Good ... 1. Dubinsky...Rangers Review:
2. Zherdev - In my opinion, Zherdev is one of the most frustrating players to watch. While he is tremendously skilled and has the capacity to do jaw dropping things with the puck, he is also prone to overhandling the puck and to making blatant errors....
Zherdev better learn that you need to come to play every night, and that crap like what we saw last night will never be tolerated in Rangerland...Sam Weinman at the Rangers Report:
Let’s face it, of the Rangers nine wins so far, six have come against teams with sub-.500 records. That includes two wins over Tampa (1-3-3), and recent wins over Columbus (3-6) and the Islanders (2-6). Not that beating those teams is a given...
Markus Naslund didn’t seem to find his game until last week, and Wade Redden still seems to be fighting it...
Aaron Voros - Nate Thompson Fight
The first beautiful thing about this fight is that it takes place at the Nassau Coliseum during a New York Rangers/New York Islanders game, which means the crowd makes it sound like Round 8 of an Oscar de la Hoya/Manny Pacquiao fight. It's bedlam.
The other beautiful thing is that Aaron Voros and Nate Thompson were tossing bombs; even the ones that missed were rather awesome...