Notes from the Rangers' win over the Lightning.
- That might have been one of the better games the Rangers have played this year. They dominated the first, and then kept a strangle-hold on the Lightning throughout the rest of the game. It's games like this that allow me to scream "don't panic it will get better" from the mountaintop. That's what this team can do.
- Rick Nash can be the first and last story of this win. He was simply an animal. He took 12 shots, scored a goal, assisted on another and pulled off one or two moves so incredible I have no words for them. Is it any wonder this team looks so much better with him in the lineup? He simply does it all. Plain and simple. He's a true game-changer.
- Derek Stepan was great again. He's been good for the past 10 games or so, and really good the past few games. Tonight was another example. His goal came off of a pretty feed from Ryan Callahan, but he didn't panic, took his time and absolutely rifled the puck into the top of the net. It's good to see him get back on track.
- Carl Hagelin opened the scoring, and man is he making a name for himself. The Rangers are 4-0 when both Stepan and Hagelin score in the same game, which isn't surprising. Hagelin used his speed, made a few things happen and just missed on a couple of chances. Him and Nash look really, really good together.
- Henrik Lundqvist wasn't needed in the first or the second, but my God was he needed in the third. And he stood tall. He made a couple of great saves and then a couple of spectacular saves. A big rebound game from him.
- Ryan Callahan was Ryan Callahan. And if that doesn't explain how good he was then you need to watch more Rangers games.
- J.T. Miller was good and then bad at times. He's still not doing so hot down low in his own end, and his reads defensively can come a second or two late, but he has been fine offensively. Finished the game with an assist and a couple of nice plays. The difference between him and Chris Kreider right now? Miller is much better mentally. He thinks he belongs. Don't underestimate how much that helps a young player on the ice. Kreider will find that past of his game soon, and then the results will follow, but right now Miller has it.
- The power play looked better tonight, and ironically the power play goal was scored off of a completely broken play. Good on Marc Staal and Callahan to keep smacking away at the loose puck (Staal eventually got the goal) but things are looking a little better with the man advantage.
- Marian Gaboirk was good Thursday. Not great, but good. He made a few things happen, created some chances and was looking for the puck.
- Brad Richards has been better the past two games. On Thursday he was 17-of-20 from the dot (Stepan was 65% at the circle to boot), got an assist on the Nash goal and really looked a little more settled. He still made a couple of poor choices on the power play, but I have a feeling the real Brad Richards is going to show up soon.