Maybe, just maybe, the Rangers are ready to make a serious run for the Eastern Conference top spot. The way they blitzed the Pens in the second period they looked like world beaters. Of course there were the so so periods, the too many penalties, the dismal 5-on-3 PP, and finally hanging on for dear life at the end. But all in all a very satisfying evening.
The stars were there last night on both teams and it seemed like the Ranger stars did a little better than the Penguin stars. Brad Richards, a goal and two assists. Marian Gaborik, a goal and an assist. The ever pressing Callahan a goal, an assist and six hits. The Rangers out hit the Pens 43-24. The Pens stars were kind of quiet. Crosby two assists and Malkin a goal. Of course the Rangers had the biggest stars, the fans. They weren't quiet.
The fans had help getting into the game. Fan favorite Sean Avery went after Tyler Kennedy 16 seconds (there is that number again) into the game. The refs stopped it immediately and gave the two of them two minutes each for overacting. At the end of their penalty the two reemerged from their sin bins and greeted each other more formally. They then suffered 5 minute fighting penalties. For his efforts to stir up the team and the fans Sean was given all of 5:03 of ice time. He got 7 minutes of penalty box time. Good ratio. Well that's one way off keeping out of the glare of coach disagreeable.
Speaking of which, every time the MSG cameras scanned the benches coach Dan Bylsma of Pittsburgh was expressionless, rather stone faced. The Ranger coach, that's another story. With his many grimaces, scowls, frowns I didn't know if he had eaten something before the game that disagreed with him or they wanted him as a replacement for Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street.
Anyhow, I digress. To paraphrase the late Ed Sullivan, last night was a really, really big win. The Rangers are only three points behind the Pens and have four games in hand. They have now won 10 of the last 12. Maybe those scowls are scaring away the evil guys. Maybe.
Tuesday night John Mitchell turned in his third straight strong outing since being recalled from the Connecticut Whale---logging 11:54 worth of ice time and rifling a snap shot past Marc-Andre Fleury for his first goal as a Ranger 14:09 into the second period. As a result, Mitchell not only extended his points streak to three games (1-2-3), but he also earned the Broadway Hat. "It's kinda' neat," Mitchell said of the hat. "It's kind of small actually, I don't know if they are washing it and it is shrinking or what. But it's pretty neat to be able to put it on, that's for sure."