There’s something about Sundays for the New York Rangers this season.
Although their record stands at 5- 6 now on Sundays, the Rangers have managed to outscore their opponents at a clip of 36 to 23. This statistic is due mostly in part to blowout wins of 8-2 (over Edmonton) 7-0 (over the Caps) and today’s 7-0 domination over the Flyers. The funny thing about these blowout wins, they were all on home ice.
That was a fun game today, classic Rangers Flyers for the most part. The Rangers played their system perfectly and it guided them to an over dominating win of the Easts best team. The Rangers were more physical than the Flyers, they outhit them, out battled them, outfought them, out everythinged them. Obviously some good old fashioned rough stuff never hurt in a game like today’s, an important game for both teams, it was nice to see the excitement back on the ice.
That was the real test for the Rangers. The test that proved that it’s ok to be hopeful and optimistic about this teams playoff chances. They played host to a struggling, albeit good, Flyers team and they came out strong early scoring the first goal 51 seconds in. They gave the Flyers a reason to quit today. A reason for the Flyers to go “oh great, here we go again.”
Just a pure dominating performance.
Remember after Friday’s game when I said:
“The Dubinsky – Anisimov – Callahan line is really playing some good hard hockey. It’s only a matter of time before Dubi and Cally get themselves back on the scoresheet if they keep grinding like they are.”
That’s about as dominating a performance as you’re going to get out of those three today. Although Dubinsky only recorded an assist tonight, his performance was completely overshadowed by the performance of his linemates, especially Ryan Callahan. Callahan is an absolute gamer and he came to play today. He knows the circumstances, he knows the Rangers need every win they can get, and he came to play. Give him the “C” already because Drury certainly isn’t doing what needs to be done with it. Callahan is a pure leader, an absolute stud. His 4 goals today all came from dirty parts of the ice and he looked very comfortable doing it. Robbed from a 5 goal game off of a hesitation that allowed Bobrovsky to make the save of him, Callahan proved today that he is a Ranger. Anisimov on the other hand recorded a goal and an assist. But that’s not what impressed me most about his game today, if you noticed today, Anisimov was very engaged physically. As physically engaged as we’ve seen AA play since his days on a line with Shelley and Prust. Artie was mixing it up after the whistle a few times and he was in behind the net hard grinding out and winning puck battles, but the again, today that was a focal point of the Rangers strategy and they perfected it.
I wish I could say more about Ryan Callahan, but what hasn’t been said? He’s going to look great with a C on his chest.
Gaborik looked good today. He was skating hard but a little hesitant to get physical. I really wish Avery had gotten himself more engaged in the play tonight, despite having that goal waved off, I wish he had played a little better. It’s going to be interesting to see if Torts sticks with the same lineup or tries to get EC back in there. I’d like to think after a performance like that he won’t change around the lineup, but who knows with this guy.
How about the power play today? 2/5 and looked great 4 out of 5 times as there was one power play that really didn’t look that great. I have to say that McCabe adds a TON to the power play. Callahan’s second goal of the game was all McCabe. McCabe picked up the secondary assist on this goal but he made the play by walking the blue line with the puck and creating space. By walking the blue line the Philly penalty killers had to shift around and it opened up space for the pass to Prospal who found Callahan for the goal. Seriously, all McCabe as with that assist he picks up his second point as a Ranger, both power play assist. Interesting to note, McCabe only logged 9:21 time on ice at even strength while picking up 3:57 on the power play. This game in a nuthsell is EXACTLY what the Rangers should have been doing with Del Zotto all season, but hindsight is 20/20.
Didn’t think the Wolski – Stepan – Zuccarello line was very great. But this could be relative due to the dominating performance we were treated to by the team as a whole. And yes, I’m saying this even though Zucc’s got himself 2 goals today to give him 3 in the last 2 games. But one came four on four with Fedotenko, and the other came off of one of his lines better shifts of the night.
I liked how NBC was making a big deal about the Rangers picking Sanguinetti over Giroux…Giroux was very noticeable today…right.
Henrik picks up his league leading 9th shutout of the season and profoundly proclaims that he’s back and ready to carry the Rangers. Don’t be fooled by the score because those 24 shots the Flyers fired on Hank today included some really good opportunities. The sequence late in the first period where Stepan hit the post and the Flyers came back down on the 2 on 1, if Hank doesn’t come up huge with that left pad save there, the Rangers hit the locker room for the first intermission up 2-1 instead of 2-0, with all the momentum going the Flyers game, and you have a different game for sure. That save, and then Dubinsky beating down Richards (again) were the game changers for the Rangers, specifically because they scored before Dubi left the box for serving his 5 minute major. Dubinsky has 18 fights in the NHL, 4 of which have come against Mike Richards…god I hate Mike Richards.
What else is there to say?
The Rangers came out today with something to prove and they proved it. They needed to prove that they could sustain the level of play that they were executing at the beginning of the season. They needed to prove that they could run with the big dogs of the NHL. This was the type of game that the Rangers had at the beginning of the season that was scaring people away from wanting to play them in the playoffs. Today we were treated to a team that was playing playoff hockey, a team that was buying into what the coach was saying, a team knowing what they had to do and doing it.
The only question becomes, are they going to be able to sustain it for 14 more games?
Like I’ve said before…
And you should be too.
The Rangers will head out west for 2 games, Wednesday against the Sharks (39-22-6), and Saturday against the Ducks (35-25-5). Pretty weak if you ask me, scheduling a 2 game west coast swing this late in the season…2 games? Make it worth our while, make it worth the jet lag. Luckily however, the Rangers have 2 days off before playing out west, and then 2 days off before returning east to Play the Islanders on March 15th.
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Written by Adam Gavriel