Rangers Vs. Panthers: Better, But Still Work To Be Done

Bruce Bennett

Notes from the Rangers win over the Panthers.

- First of all, thoughts and prayers to those involved and currently part of the manhunt going on in Boston right now. If you want to know why this country is the best in the world, well, the first responders around this nation would be a good place to start.

- To hockey: That's a huge win by the New York Rangers, in what was certainly a must-win before the game started and even more so after you saw the Islanders and Jets winning (again). The Jets keep putting the pressure on the Rangers, and so long as the Rangers keep winning there won't be any problems, but that's a hell of a lot of pressure to walk into every game.

- Derick Brassard had maybe his best game as a Ranger. Two goals and a brilliant play that he won't get an assist on but should - if you missed it, Brassard was open in the slot but let Derek Stepan's feed pass by him to get to Rick Nash who buried the goal. Brassard talked about being better, and you can see by his goal celebrations that he really, really cares and he was everything he needed to be in the win.

- I'm going to put him on the top because I was thrilled with the way he played. John Moore had himself a game. You're really starting to see how dangerous he becomes because of his elite skating. He effortlessly joins rushes, gets chances (like the scoring chance he had off the Brassard pass in the slot) because he surprises defenders with his speed and is quick enough to get back and not give the other team a chance. Plus, he's thrown some big hits, has a real nasty edge to his game and has been fine defensively. And who knew that kid could fight like that?

- Rick Nash was Rick Nash again, which is good because the Rangers need him to be their best player. A goal and two assists for a three-point night and a much better showing than he had against the Flyers. And there is no question, even when he isn't playing well, he's the best player on the ice in most games.

- Derek Stepan (an assist), Ryan Callahan (two assists) and Ryane Clowe (an assist) all had really good games as well. I'm lumping them together because in the grand scheme of things they all played similar games. Made things happen, had a few chances themselves and did what the Rangers needed them to do.

- One extra note on Clowe, however. I wasn't pleased with his effort against the Flyers, but he was his typical self last night. He was big in the corners, really tough down low and his play to get the puck to Mats Zuccarello for his first goal was so nice it deserved two assists.

- Since we've brought up Zuccarello. Two goals and a sense that this kid is finally starting to figure things out. Maybe that season in the KHL this year helped him develop a little more, or maybe it's just his second tour in the NHL and he's more comfortable, but he's been huge. I think he's played his way into a contract extension.

- You look at the score and see 6-1 and think it was an easy win. But without Henrik Lundqvist the game is 2-2 in the second period. So, yeah, he played really well.

- Seven minutes for Chris Kreider. Why was he brought up again? Play. The. Kid. He has to be better than Taylor Pyatt (who did record an assist), no?

Back at the grind tonight against the Sabres in the newest installment of "biggest game of the year."


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