Who is that team in white and what have they done with the New York Rangers?
Back in the Eastern Standard Time zone, the New York Rangers looked like an entirely different club than the one that burst out to a 1-4 start. Maybe the teams in the West are that much better, or maybe the teams in the East are just plain crummy. Whatever the case, the Blueshirts were a different team in the Nation’s capital.
The NYR dominated the Capitals from the opening faceoff.
Playing much better defense and with a much better forecheck, the Blueshirts were all over the puck and all over the Capitals.
The first period was relatively even, with the Rangers holding a slight advantage in shots, 11-8. The Blueshirts killed off two Capital powerplays and Justin Falk even used his big body and dropped the gloves.
The second period was all Rangers. In what was probably their finest frame of the season, the NYR blitzed the Caps, outshooting them an astonishing 21-6. John Moore got the party started at 12:05 with a quick wrister from the point that Braden Holtby should have had. Playing 4 on 4, Moore jumped in deep and worked the puck with Brad Richards (love you 19!) and Derick Brassard before drifting back to the point and quickly firing one over Holtby’s shoulder.
Just 1:46 later, Ryan Callahan doubled the NYR lead when the captain, Richards and Brassard worked the puck below the redline. in the corner, Cally hit Brassard and raced to the net. D-Brass fed Richards in the opposite corner and the true NHL superstar sent the puck to the slot where Callahan, chipped the puck into the air and smacked it down into the net for a really nifty finish. The Captain followed his effort with one of the worst goal cellys of the year nearly breaking his ankle after scooping the ice. But Callahan survived the celebration and the Rangers were relentless after gaining the two goal lead.
Later, Troy Brouwer threw a nasty open ice elbow to the back of Derek Stepan’s head and it looked like Step sprawled out on the ice may have been concussed. But the Rangers star center returned to the game, but sadly, no Rangers retaliated on Brouwer. This needs to change and the Rangers need to protect their stars, or the likes of Step and Rick Nash will be spending extended periods on the IR this season.
The Blueshirts played better, though it is probably premature to think they have turned the corner and learned Coach Vigneault’s system. It is also premature to think that the five game sampling of awful that they opened the season with is defining. It is a very long season and the Rangers will need about 20-25 games to find their identity. at this point they are still working out the kinks.
There were so many positives in DC, not the least of which was Henrik Lundqvist (in his much smaller pads) pitching a shutout. The Rangers blocked shots and hit the Caps. Hank is the best in the game and if they commit to playing just a bit of defense in their own zone, he will give them results like he did tonight.
Derek Dorsett stayed out of the box. Yay!
Next up is the Devils Saturday night in Bricktown.
Let’s go Rangers!