Notes from the Rangers big win over the Washington Capitals.
- Let's take a moment to talk about how big of a win it was when the New York Rangers downed the Washington Capitals 4-1 on the road. The Rangers were on their heels the first 10 minutes, then Derek Stepan scores a big goal and the team takes that swell of momentum and just crushed the Capitals. It's huge. This is the New York Rangers people were expecting when the season started. They're getting there, folks, they're getting there.
- Speaking of Stepan, I thought he had yet another brilliant game. A goal and an assist for another two-point night as Stepan continues to do everything right. Aside from the goal I saw Stepan create two or three premier chances and nearly score on a pretty deflection in the third. He's been really, really, really good for awhile now. About time he gets his due.
- Martin Biron gave up a rough goal in the first period. After that? He was awesome. He kept the Rangers in this game when it was 1-0 and 1-1. That's a really big deal, especially when it took the Rangers a little bit of time to find their game. Don't underestimate how important a backup goalie -- especially one as good as Biron -- can be for a team's success.
- Rick Nash was Rick Nash. Do I need to say more than that? He's an animal in every single game. I've seen people talk about the last time the Rangers had a game-changer like Nash on the team. I think the Jaromir Jagr comparisons are accurate. Marian Gaborik is an awesome player, and I do think he's an elite one as well, but he's not as much of a game changer as Nash is. Maybe it's Nash's size, maybe it's his vision, his hands or his hockey IQ, but Nash does everything. He finished the game with two assists, and one of those assists was on a rocket Ryan Callahan deflected for the second period power play goal.
- So the power play. How much better has it been? Well, it's converting around 15% now, versus low single digits in the first part of the year. That's massive improvement. The Rangers leader on the power play? Has to be Ryan Callahan. Five power play goals this year.
- Michael Del Zotto looked good. Really good. Great, even. He had an assist on the Callahan power play goal, but it's more than this. Defensively he was good. Offensively? He shot the puck like a machine at the point during the power play. Sure, most of them were blocked or missed the net, but those shots force the Capitals to cover the point making more space for everyone else to work down low.
- Carl Hagelin was awesome, as well. He also finished the game with two assists, but it's about more than numbers with Hagelin. He uses his speed to both create chances for the Rangers and extinguish chances for other teams. He's been really good too.
- Brad Richards is getting closer and closer to returning, my friends.
- Brian Boyle finally played the type of game Rangers fans (and John Tortorella) have been waiting for. Good for him, and good for the Rangers. They can use him.