Well, the Rangers ended the dismal month of February with a 4-1 win against the Lightning. They also regained some players who had been out due to injuries: Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, and Michael Del Zotto. So maybe we’re getting back on track here (knock on wood). But let’s go back and poke at some old wounds…
So, let’s go back to Saturday and Montreal. The Rangers visited Centre Bell for the first time this season and continued their streak of losing in Montreal. Sadly, it seems that we can’t replicate the Devils’ strategy of using Quebecois goalies to win in Quebec, as Biron let in three goals in the second period to rack up a 3-0 loss. Must be more of that strange Brodeur magic. There was the ugly Pacioretty on McDonagh boarding that apparently only warranted a two minute minor despite bloodying McDonagh’s face, causing him to leave the game in the second and miss the next game altogether. That was such a Shanahan fail. I’m disappointed Shanny, the Rangers deserve better. Heck, the players deserve better! Oh yeah, and Girardi took a Subban shot right in the ankle and limped off the ice. Tortorella also punished Gaborik and Richards for their poor performance by benching them both for the entire third period. Anyway, the win helped the Habs reach first place in the East, so you know, doing good deeds, right? Yeah, this is the NHL, not the Boy Scouts.
Tuesday. The Jets. Evander Kane and Olli Jokinen really had the Rangers’ number, racking up two goals each, leading the Jets to a 4-3 victory. The Rangers tried to stop them both. Sadly, our rookies racked up penalty minutes for hooking and holding. That’s not the way to stop them, Chris and J.T. The Rangers were really missing their forwards and defensemen, with Nash, Asham, McDonagh and Del Zotto all off the ice. As crazy as Captain Cally is, he can’t do it on his own, which was evident on Tuesday. Gaborik and Richards showed up again, and each had an assist on a third period goal, but the team couldn’t pull it together to win. Fourth loss in a row, fourth game without Rick Nash. We need that big, crazy skating teddy bear!
And now on to happier subjects: a 4-1 victory against the Lightning on Thursday, which I witnessed in person! I’m not saying the Rangers won because I was in the Garden… It’s most likely the fact that the Rangers got their anchors back: McDonagh, Nash and Del Zotto all came back to face the Lightning. Whatever was wrong with Rick Nash, he’s better now! Well, he says he needs to get his conditioning back, but he looked fine to me! He had 12 shots in the game against the Lightning, and racked up a goal and an assist. He was a force of nature out on the ice, and he wanted a goal so badly. He finally scored 18 minutes into the third period. His energy was contagious, as the Rangers racked up an insane 42 shots to the Lightning’s 24. McDonagh and Del Zotto made the most of their time on the ice as well: McDonagh had two assists and Del Zotto clocked over 20 minutes on the ice with a plus-1 for the night. Hagelin, Stepan and Staal all scored against Garon. Henrik Lunqvist let one shot by St. Louis trickle in in the first period, but made some crazy saves in the third period, standing on his head yet again. Tortorella tried some interesting lines: Hagelin-Richards-Nash, Pyatt-Stepan-Callahan, Miller-Boyle-Gaborik and Powe-Halpern-Bickel with Staal-Girardi, McDonagh-Stralman and Del Zotto-Eminger as the defense pairs. I really liked the energy of the Hags-Richards-Nash line, but we’ll see how Tortorella shuffles everyone around when we face Buffalo on Sunday.