As of right now, nothing else matters. Forget the bad losses, forget Tom Renney, forget the bad power play, forget the lack of scoring, hell, even Wade Redden gets a fresh start, because at 9:35 PM last night, the slate was wiped clean.
The Rangers are in the playoffs. It didn't come easy, it didn't come pretty, but they are in.
Before we start the recap, I have to take my hat off to the Ranger fans at the game last night. You guys were loud all night long, it sounded great on TV.
The Rangers got on the board early with what was to say the least an odd goal by Markus Naslund. I thought after watching the replays a few times, it looked like Marty Biron was kinda pawing at the puck, and didn't have it under control, but I could understand the Flyers being upset. If that goal went against the Rangers, they would have heard me in Philly. The ref had a better view than the cameras, so I think he got the call right. It was good to see Naslund get that goal, his play has been better of late, and he had a few quality chances last night.
The 2nd goal, which went to Callahan but I thought was Derek Morris' goal, was pure hard work. Moving the puck, crashing the net, and solid forechecking.
I'm not sure I've seen Michal Roszival play a better game this season than he did last night, making several great defensive plays, and absolutely leveled Joffrey Lupul at the blue line.
Chris Drury had assists on both goals, and played another very strong game. He's picked up his game when the Rangers need him most. Great job by the Captain. When John Tortorella called out his top line players the other day, it seems as though Drury got the message.
Now if he could just pass it on to Nik Zherdev, who just looks like he is putting in time right now.
Ryan Callahan, whether that goal was his or not, continued his brilliant play since the coaching change. He is becoming a Ranger star before our very eyes. Just in time for a new contract at the end of the season.
Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant last night, absolutely brilliant. He made 37 saves, some of them were amazing, a few were absolutely ridiculous. The save he made on Daniel Carcillo was sensational. Carcillo will be seeing that one in his sleep for a long time to come.
Freddie Sjostrom and Dan Girardi deserve kudos for some great plays in front of the net while killing off a penalty on a questionable interference call to Naslund
7 goals scored on Lundqvist in the last 5 games. It's definitely a sign that he may be heating up at just the right time. You don't have to be Stan Fischler to know that the Rangers are only going as far as Henrik Lundqvist can take them in the playoffs. A hot goaltender can make all the difference once the playoffs start.
If you are the Rangers, what do you do? Play Lundqvist Sunday, figuring he'll have 2 or 3 days off before Game One, or do you rest him, which would give him almost a week off between games? It's always a coaches dilemma, playing your starter and risking injury, not playing him and risking him losing focus.
When the Giants faced a similar situation in 2007 for their season finale against the Patriots, they played to win, and left the starters in. John Tortorella strikes me as being cut from the same cloth as Tom Coughlin, so it wouldn't surprise me to see Lundy in goal Sunday night.
Anyway, we'll let Torts worry about that. For now, we can sit back and enjoy the Rangers making the playoffs for the 4th season in a row. The second season starts next week, everybody gets a clean slate.
One last thing, the NHL was nice enough to keep the feed going last night after the game and I was able to catch the "Blueshirts off our backs" presentation, which is always great. Pretty cool to see Ranger fans both young and old on the ice getting to meet the players. Nice job by the Rangers.