It took them much longer then they wanted, but the Rangers finally exorcised the demons and extracted revenge on the Philadelphia Flyers for ending their season last year with a 7-0 destruction of their divisional rivals at the Garden.
For one day, the white jerseys were back on display on the Garden ice, bringing back thoughts of 1994 and the glory years, well year. The play on the ice was reminiscent too.
Ryan Callahan, the captain-in-waiting, played the best game of his young career, tallying 4 goals. Mats Zuccarello scored 2 goals to make it 3 in 2 games, and Artem Anisimov absolutely undressed Flyer rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to account for the Rangers 7-goal outburst. A team that isn't going to wow you with skill, the Rangers scored what is normally a week's worth of goals in their first home win in 5 tries.
You can have your conspiracy theories about why the white jerseys made a rare appearance in place of the expected, and rarely victorious, Heritage jerseys. It's possible that John Tortorella, in a move of either pure genius or throw-a-dart-at-it pure luck, but whatever it was, the Rangers finally played a strong game, to say the very least, at home in front of the Garden faithful. Additionally, they beat the Eastern Conference All-Stars for the 1st in 5 tries, the 1st of which ended last season.
The Rangers need to build on this, and they need to do it quickly. By the time they make their way back from this 2 game West Coast trip, both Carolina and Buffalo will have had a chance to play the majority of their games in hand. If the Rangers can continue their positive play on the road and get 3 out of 4 points this week, they could
The forward lines and defensive pairings were what I believe to be the optimal lineup for this Rangers team. The forward lines for the Flyers game were as follows: Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan, Avery-Prospal-Gaborik, Wolski-Stepan-Zuccarello, Fedotenko-Boyle-Prust. 3 out of the 4 lines have been lines that have seen success this season as units, and the 4th combines last year's dynamic duo of Prospal and Gaborik with the speed and agitation of Avery. I don't think you'll find a better combination for these 12.
Defensively, you again saw Staal paired with Girardi, McDonagh with Sauer, and McCabe with Gilroy. The theme remains the same, as 2 of the 3 parings have seen a good amount of success this year, with the 3rd having some offensive punch as well.
What will be interesting is if and when Tortorella will rest his workhorse goaltender for a game and allow Chad Johnson to play during this playoff push. While Lundqvist clearly seems to thrive from more playing time, one has to wonder if playing in 20-some odd playoff-type games before the playoffs even start, without a game off, would benefit The King. Time will tell that story.
Meanwhile, for at least a few days, the Rangers can relax and not answer questions about their inability to score. If they can keep this up, their road to the postseason will be that much easier.