Welcome back everyone to the new DOINOW.com. I’ll save you my usual preamble about checking the archives and yadda yadda yadda. You get it. You’re reading this now, and as always the archives on the right hand side, blah blah blah.
I originally wasn’t going to do a column after last night’s Ranger game, but since I was getting tweets telling me “I TOLD YOU SO!” and “HEN-RY!”, I figured I would do something quick here. Just for the record, I wasn’t going to do a column originally because the Rangers have a quick back-to-back tonight, after having two games in five days for the second straight week. I can’t figure out these NHL schedule makers and it hurts my brain when trying to do so.
I’ll be back either late Sunday or Monday morning with a look at the NY football, the Rangers/Oilers game and perhaps some WWE nonsense.
The Rangers pounded the Vancouver Canucks last night, skating to a 5-1 win. The game was practically over before four minutes could elapse into the first period, as Ryan McDonagh, JT Miller & Mats Zuccarello all lit the lamp, giving the Rangers a quick 3-0 lead.
My Henrik Lundqvist contract issues aside, the biggest problem with the Rangers this year is consistency. They have battled the Pittsburgh Penguins very well this season, and have had many 4-5 goal games. Then they have these games where they are blanked and they just look stale. The Rangers need a nice little win streak and establish some constant flow in all facets of their game.
What made me most happy as a Ranger fan last night was the production from guys we haven’t seen scoring this season. Last night marked the first goals for both Captain Ryan McDonagh and defenseman Mark Staal. Zuc, who has still been playing as gritty as ever, fighting to the dirty areas and being scrappy, just seemed to have no puck luck. A lot of his shots either went wide or high. In this game, Zuc was on the mark, scoring two goals. He really needed that. JT Miller, who has bounced from the AHL Wolfpack to the Rangers and back, like a ping pong ball harder than a ping pong ball being served by the Olympic Team China ping pong team, is finding his groove as well. With Anthony Duclair playing for the Team Canada junior team, this opens up a spot for Miller. Miller is capitalizing on his minutes in recent games and that’s all you can ask for.
I was rooting for Chris Kreider to get on the board last night. He’s had a rough season thus far. Kreider, who has been in Miller’s skates before, during the Torts era, understands what it’s like to be juggled around. Last night, Coach AV sent him down to the fourth line. I don’t see Kreider going back to Connecticut anytime soon, but he just needs to figure out what’s holding him back from last year’s production.
The Rangers have a good problem with their defensemen, as now that everyone is healthy, someone gets the short end of the stick. The play of Matt Hunwick has been superb this season. Out of nowhere, Kevin Klein is your best defenseman this season. Mac has been hurt, and there is no way Mac or Girardi will be riding the pine. Staal is in a contract year, and the Rangers will play him and decide whether to trade him or hope that he steps up again for another playoff run. I think Fat Cat Hank’s contract prevents the Rangers from keeping him next season. The two men fighting for the last defenseman spot are both John Moore & Matt Hunwick. Hopefully this competition increases production from the D.
Henrik didn’t blow a lead!
In what seems to be a rare occasion this year, for once, Henrik Lunqvist held on to a lead last night. It seems that the Rangers really went out of their way to protect him, by blocking more shots than any other game this season. While shots went his way, he didn’t have to be lights out, and put up 30 saves, many of them coming in the third period when the game was already over.
I’ve always looked at Hank this season as if I were Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane. Is he worth his contract? I’m of the opinion that he is not. You would’ve won this game with Cam Talbot last night and for $8 million less.
Just like the Rangers needed scoring from new faces, it was nice to see Hank get a strong game under his belt. The Rangers can not afford Hank to be clueless, like he’s been of late. 33% of the season is over and the Rangers do not possess a playoff spot, directly because of Hank’s crushing losses. He’s blown 8 leads which cost the Rangers 13 points. He needs to make up for his shit-shows now, and this four game road-trip could be a turning point in the season.
The Rangers didn’t get any goals from their most reliable players this season, Rick Nash & Marty St. Louis. However, both played well and assisted on several goals. If the Rangers can get some other guys going, along with the play of Marty & Nash, there is no reason not to expect the Rangers to put up 3 goals a night. If Hank does his job, the Rangers should quickly climb up the Metropolitan division standings.
Oh, and since I saw Ranger fans calling this the best game all season, it wouldn’t be a full article from me unless I was arguing something. I would call the Rangers 5-0 dismantling of the Penguins the biggest win of the season, with the Penguins shootout “victory” (overturned Boyle goal) the best & most exciting game I’ve seen all season from the blueshirts.
Up next for the Rangers are the Edmonton Oilers at 9:30 tonight. I’m assuming Talbot gets the start tonight, so I will be a happy camper. I’ll be back late tonight or tomorrow with the football, Rangers/Oilers and everything else.
Let’s Go Rangers!
@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter