Rangers Vs. Islanders: Rangers Grab Huge Win On The Island

Bruce Bennett

Notes from the Rangers victory over the Islanders.

- I know I said this after the win in Detroit, but maybe it means a little more when you win a game like that against a division rival. The Rangers dominated the first 40 minutes of that game, and still found themselves down 2-1 (thanks to some horrible luck) going into the third. They could have hung their heads. They didn't. And the next thing you know, the Rangers are continuing to fight their ass off in the third and end up winning a huge game on the road.

- Tuesday was the best game of the season for this group. No question. They looked the way everyone expected them to look when they brought in Alain Vigneault over the summer. They forechecked with ferocity, scored goals, created chances, dictated the tempo and didn't give up much defensively. One perfect goal and another very lucky goal. That's all the defense yielded.

- Some of that had to do with Cam Talbot. My word he's been good for the Rangers. Give the defense some credit though, too. They shut down John Tavares and Thomas Vanek all night. But when Talbot was called on he was there. What a steady force he's been.

- And the offense truly came alive. Look, the Rangers could have beaten the Canadiens on Monday. They had tons of chances in the offensive zone. Just no finish. Tuesday? Tons of chances and some finishing. The power play looks really good too. Maybe things are starting to come together. This is three really solid games in a row. Even though the Rangers lost 2-0 against the Habs, you can't say they played bad. Although the energy level on Tuesday was miles ahead of anything else the Rangers have shown this year.

- For the second straight game it's Chris Kreider who earns "best player of the night" award. You're really starting to see what makes this kid special. Forget his goal scoring ability and his offensive instincts, his speed and size makes him a force everywhere he goes. He was one of the Rangers' best forecheckers, created havoc everywhere (especially in front of the net) and scored a huge goal. He was (and has been) outstanding since he got here. He's just a difference maker, and he's playing 17 minutes a night. It's awesome to see.

- Derek Stepan (two assists), Benoit Pouliot (game-winning goal), Mats Zuccarello (an assist) and Brad Richards (an assist) all looked really good, no? Pouliot, specifically, has been fantastic in these past two wins. If he can keep putting it together the Rangers are going to be very, very happy. Same thing with Zuccarello, who has finally woken up.

- And then there's Carl Hagelin. What a difference he makes, especially in terms of overall team speed and the forechecking. That give-and-go-crisscross with Pouliot was a masterstroke. And while you have to give Pouliot a ton of credit for thinking of it and initiating it, give Hagelin credit, too, for sticking with it and getting the puck to where it had to go. That was a special, special play. Similar to the playoff goal Hagelin and Stepan combined for against the Capitals when they did a give-and-go in front of the net. Hagelin's got a hell of a head on his shoulders.

- The defense in general looked good. Michael Del Zotto made his mistakes and then atoned for them with that pretty pass off the boards that sprung Pouliot for the game-winning goal. John Moore and Anton Stralman looked solid. And aside from misplaying the bouncing puck -- leading to the Islanders first goal -- Marc Staal was really good, too.

Ryan McDonagh was fantastic, and looks really comfortable on the power play. The point men have gotten the message to shoot the puck more from the blue line on the power play. That's a nice goal from him.

- Maybe the Rangers build off this win. In a way, they did build off the Detroit game, too. The Rangers are home the next few games, so hopefully they keep up this play and keep pushing forward. The fans can use it, too.

Thoughts?

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