Monday, October 20, 2014

Close To Perfection

It would be hard to imagine the Rangers playing a more complete and satisfying game that they played yesterday afternoon, than the 4-0 win over a very good Sharks team. The Sharks came in tied for first in the Pacific with nine points and had shellacked the Devils the previous game and are considered a strong Stanley Cup contender. So what went right?

Everything. Lundqvist got his first shutout of the year, 51st of his career, and made 33 saves. The one he almost missed was saved by D-man Matt Hunwick, who cleared a teetering puck from the goal line early in the match that would have given the Sharks a 1-0 lead. Lundqvist was so impressed with Hunwick's effort he awarded him the Broadway Hat after the game.

It was a big night for firsts. First goal scorers were, Hagelin, St. Louis and rookie Kevin Hayes, who looks like he may blossom into a big contributor. The Rangers also set a franchise record by scoring two goals, St. Louis and Nash, in four seconds. Nash's goal was his 7th, becoming the first Ranger to score 5 goals in the season's first six games. Also, the Rangers have won 66 straight games when getting at least 4 goals. The last time the Rangers scored four goals and lost was 10/29/2011 in a 5-4 shootout loss to Ottawa.

Other good news. The Rangers were 41-21 on faceoffs. And guess what else? The coach basically stayed with the four line structure. Hayes centered Nash and Kreider. Brassard centered Zucarrello and St. Louis. Moore was moved up to the third line between Hagelin and the surprising Stempniak and Chris Mueller, promoted from Hartford centered the battering rams of Malone and Glass. Glass had six hits and Malone had five.

Anything go wrong? Yes, but minor. The power play was 0-1 and now is 0-17, the longest drought since 2003-04 that went 0-32. So we have a way to go, but as the coach is fond of saying, don't critique a win. Two big road games coming up at New Jersey and Montreal. Let's Go Rangers!

ICINGS: T/Birds were trounced 7-1 in their last game dropping them to 1-3. Still time to turn it around.

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