While watching the Rangers convincing 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, I got into a back and forth internal dialog with myself. How really good are these guys I kept asking? Are the Rangers truly the best team in the NHL, a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs, or are the Habs that bad now?
Have the Canadiens checked out early and started their off season? They must be just going through the motions and letting the Broadway boys have their way, I thought. Because, for a 'good skating' team they can't find any room to get shots on Lundqvist.
No, I would then think, the Montreal players must be playing hard. They are playing for their pride, their families, and most of all for their jobs for next season. So the Rangers are just playing their lock down, shot blocking, Tortorella game. They ended with 18 blocks.
But on the other hand, what about the dismal losing atmosphere that has infiltrated Montreal? Heck, the Montreal fans are all singing the ‘Lose Habs Blues.’ The franchise is in total disarray and they are just mailing it in.
So how can we tell if this is one of the best Rangers teams of all time? They will certainly have more than 50 wins and are challenging to beat the season record of 112 points from the '94 Cup team. Plus they can and have shut down much better teams than La Canadiens.
But, how could this be the same Habs team that toyed with and tortured the Rangers the last two times they played at the House of Horrors, the Bell Centre? Montreal won those two games, 4-0 in November, and 4-1 in January. Is that just an old curse that haunts the Blueshirts? Must be, I thought.
Maybe the Rangers cursed Montreal right back, when we pawned Scotty Gomez on them back in June of 2009. The Habs have been going downhill ever since then, in terms of playoff performance. Call it the Curse of the
The truth, as usual, probably lies somewhere in the middle of my mental monologue. The Rangers are a team with the playoffs in front of them and confidence coursing through their veins. The Canadiens are the polar opposite. Plus, Lundqvist in net, turns a good Rangers team into a great team. The last period was still riveting, because I think we were all pulling for The King to keep the shutout. The Montreal score with 2:29 remaining, was a big disappointment. You could see Henrik was not happy.
Anyway, this debate will rage inside and outside until we close out the season and get to the acid test of the playoffs and see where this team really stands in history.
But in the meantime, what a treat this team is serving up as they come down the home stretch. They are an over achieving group, when for years we have been saddled with chronic under achievers.
Notes and rehashes:
Richards, Gaborik, and their kid flash, Hagelin, have caught lightning in a bottle. They look like a threat to score every time they are on the ice. Richards is getting his points in bunches now, 1 goal and 2 assists this time.
De Zotto, as is typical, played a Jekyll and Hyde game. His early turn overs and defensive lapses gave way to a couple of great goals and an assist. #Maddening
The Dr. Jekyll power play also showed up. That Mr. Hyde 0-fer-ever is in temporary remission.
Once the Rangers had the 3-1 lead, it seemed like the intensity level went up as every player on the Rangers started looking to take home some points from this game. #PadtheStats
Finally, it was great to see Cally win the Steve McDonald Award. Adam Graves won the award 5 times, and Callahan looks like he will challenge that record.