Mar 23 2012; New York, NY, USA; Referees stop a fight between the New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
- Why not start with the positives? Tim Erixon. I though Friday night was the best game of his very short NHL career. Erixon played 15:17 against the Sabres -- the highest he's played since he was called up -- and looked fantastic in the offensive zone. Not only did he pick up the first point of his NHL career, but he also made three pinpoint passes that could have easily been assists if any of his teammates were prepared for them. He also saw some power play time and made some good decisions with the puck in the defensive zone. I've been singing his praise all year; I think he has a ton of potential (you don't play 20 minutes a night in the SEL as a 20-year-old and not have talent) and we're beginning to see him realize the very tip of that potential.
Join me after the jump for more.
- Speaking of players trying to make an impact, don't you feel awful for Mats Zuccarello? He finally gets called up with just a few game remaining in the regular season, he seemed to be getting more comfortable with the team, looked like he could start making an impact and then fractures his wrist blocking a shot. I'm not a doctor, I also don't know how bad the fracture is, but I would have to assume he's done for the rest of the regular season and a good piece of the playoffs. Again, that's pure speculation on part.
- With the Mats Zuccarello injury, I have a feeling the Rangers might be a little more inclined to have Chris Kreider mosey his way up onto Broadway. There has been some speculation that Glen Sather wants him to finish the year in the AHL but, to me, it makes no sense to burn a year of his ELC for AHL games. I have a feeling the Rangers want him on the team even if it's the playoffs.
- The race with the Pittsburgh Penguins isn't getting any less intense. Pittsburgh plays Ottawa tonight while the Rangers take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Penguins are just one point back, with a game in hand. The Philadelphia Flyers are five points behind the Rangers and are even in terms of games played. A loss tonight and a win by the Penguins would be a significant blow to the Rangers' first place hopes. If you're sitting at home thinking, "we've dominated the Flyers all year, I want them in the first round," just realize the Flyers might have one of the hottest goalies in the league, and sometimes that's all you need.
- I thought Brandon Dubinsky played another good game against the Sabres. He made good passes, drove to the net and made smart decisions. Apparently the coaching staff agreed with me, because Dubinsky played almost 25 minutes last night. The Rangers are going to need him in the playoffs, so hopefully he's finding his game again.
- I also thought Artem Anisimov had a hell of a game. Not only was his feed to Brian Boyle for the Rangers' only goal brilliant, but he made smart decisions all game, and once again used his defense to create some offense.
- One last note. The Rangers' defense better tighten up, and tighten up fast. The defense goes through lapses where they can't clear the zone and get pinned down due to the opposing team's pressure. That will kill (repeat: kill) a team in the playoffs when momentum is everything.