Monday, March 12, 2012

The Hunger Game: Rangers 4, Islanders 3

The NY Rangers were starving for a win, and they got one from the perpetual bottom dwelling Islanders. Nothing comes easy in the NHL. So the Rangers had no shame in feasting on the still kicking carcass of the fishsticks. A win is a win.

Going into the game Brad Richards had the gaunt look of a man who hadn't eaten, or scored an important goal, in weeks. His power play fast had been going on since Dec. 11th, 40 games ago. Talk about emaciated. However, Richards is actually well ahead of his career goal scoring pace. He has averaged 22 goals a year in his prior ten seasons. He now has 21 for the Rangers with 14 games remaining. It is Richards' assists that are well off his normal pace. He has averaged 49.6 assists per season during his career. He currently has only 29 for the Rangers, none sweeter than the one setting up Gaborik for the game winner.

Mats Zuccarello wasn't just hungry, he was famished. Banished to the Whale, he finally gets back to the Rangers and delivers an assist on the Rangers' second goal by Richards. In fact, Richards and Zuccarello were on the ice together for all three of the Rangers power play goals. Three power play goals, amazing. Could the secret key to unlocking Brad Richards, the Lord of the Assists, be the Norwegian hobbit? A little elfin magic couldn't hurt.

Until the game winner with 6 seconds remaining, the game was setting up as a shootout homecoming for Zuccy.

The puck action in the 4-man power play that eventually won the game in OT was impressive. That unit consisted of Gaborik, Richards, Stepan, and Zuccarello. Not a defenseman on the ice, just the four most offensively skilled players on the team.

The Shuffle Master was in all his glory last night. The reshuffled power play had Boyle centering between Gaborik and Mats Zuccarello, with Richards on the point. Planting the Massachusetts Spruce in front of the goal is a good place for him, if he has to be on the ice. So let's recap that bit of Shuffle Master brilliance: you put one of your largest players in front of the goalie to screen him and then all of your skilled players around the outside. Brilliant. But why did it take 68 games for the disagreeable one to figure this out?  The question becomes, does this new power play lineup stay together once Callahan and Del Zotto come back?


#DubiOrNotDubi – The Rangers lost 3 games after Dubinsky goes out early against the Devils. He comes back, they win. Coincidence?

#PAParenteau – Alongside Tavares, Pierre-Alexandre, the former minor leaguer and NY Ranger has wracked up 46 assists this season. Tavares is one dangerous player, who elevates everyone around him.

#NeededRest – They took the captain off the ice. Good.

#SaveOftheGame – Lundqvist in overtime on Frans Nielsen's one-timer in the slot.
Scoring Summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 1 11:15 EV NYI Tavares(28) Parenteau(46) Hamonic(15)
2 1 18:47 PP NYR Richards(20) Stralman(14) Lundqvist(1)
3 2 07:44 PP NYI Moulson(29) Streit(31) Hamonic(16)
4 2 16:03 PP NYR Richards(21) Gaborik(28) Zuccarello(1)
5 2 19:24 EV NYI MacDonald(5) Tavares(38) Jurcina(7)
6 3 03:29 EV NYR Boyle(6) McDonagh(20) Prust(12)
7 OT 04:54 PP NYR Gaborik(33) Richards(29) Stepan(30)

His 4th Brad Hat:

Blueshirts United:
This might have been one of the easiest decisions this season for the Rangers, deciding that Brad Richards should wear the Broadway Hat following the club's crucial 4-3 overtime victory Sunday night over the Islanders.

While it was Marian Gaborik who scored the winner, and Brian Boyle who netted the tying goal, and Henrik Lundqvist who preserevd it all with a monster save in overtime, it was Richards who was the single most dynamic player on the ice for either team from start to finish. In the end even his excellent totals---two goals and an assist---did not scratch the surface for the dominating game Richards played...

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