Rangers Vs. Penguins: I'll Take 3 Of 4

Justin K. Aller

Notes from the Rangers shootout loss to the Penguins.

- I though that was one of the New York Rangers better games of the season. I think from a mental standpoint it was even better than the game they played against the Penguins on Wednesday. Remember, when you score the first goal and then take a 3-0 lead into the first intermission, it's a lot easier to be mentally tougher than the other team. They're stretching to try and get themselves back into the game, and the offense has more time to pick and choose where they're going to attack. Point is, the Rangers were tied 0-0, gave up a very early goal in the third and fought their way back into the game to tie it at one. I'm not sure if the pre-trade team would have been able to do that.

- Another thing the pre-trade team wouldn't have been doing? Being so nasty. The Penguins have always been a tough team to play, both in their level of skill and their "toughness." And I'll throw quotations around their "toughness" because Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are always doing their little dirty things, the Penguins defensive corps usually has one guy who is slamming guys into the boards and, oh yeah, guys like Matt Cooke and Tanner Glass. The Rangers kept up with them Friday, and gave it right back to them. I honestly think that helps the Rangers. Guys get amped up when they see their teammates tossing hits back, getting into the extracurricular stuff and the byproduct is it makes it harder to play against you. I've said before and I'll say it again, fighting probably doesn't help you win games, but being tough absolutely does.

- The tying goal came from Rick Nash (of course) on an assist from Derek Stepan (of course). Stepan -- who got murdered on draws all night -- won two very big ones in this game. The first was the clean with back to Nash who was sitting in the shooting hole -- side note: why don't the Rangers do that more?? -- and Nash buried it for his 14th of the year and knotted the score up at 1. The other big face off win was at the end of regulation when Stepan won it clean to help take some pressure off the Rangers defenseman.

- Speaking of the Rangers defenseman, I loved Michael Del Zotto and Dan Girardi in this game from a toughness standpoint. Girardi slams a Penguin down into the ice for bumping into Henrik Lundqvist after the whistle, Del Zotto was hitting everybody all night. It was nice to see the two of them doing some of the dirty work. Ryan McDonagh -- who also had a great game -- can be thrown into this mix here, too.

- And speaking of Lundqvist, he was fabulous. He really was. I don't know how many times this year he's bailed the Rangers out and saved them a point or maybe even two points, but he saved them a point Friday, and we know how vital those points are.

- These are the games where I think Ryane Clowe really showed off his talents and why he's going to be an asset to this team. He gets into the fight, makes a couple of things happen, throws a few hits, gives you over 18 solid minutes and creates some chances. Then, after he takes exception to some of the cheap antics on the ice, is in the middle of three Penguins jabbing at them without backing down. One of the biggest parts of Clowe's game? His desire to die for his teammates. He hasn't know these guys for a week yet and he's already going into a scrum with three opposing players? Can you say a John Tortorella player?

- I thought Derick Brassard was pretty good. He created some chances, had two shots on goal and won 75% of his faceoffs. I also like that he uses his big frame to get into the tough areas of the ice. He crashes the net and played pretty well. I think of all the new guys, he might take the most time to settle in, mainly because he uses his vision so much and it's tough to feed to guys you don't know the first week or so.

- So, three of four points against the Penguins in this home-and-home? Yeah, I'll take it. The Rangers did a good job to get a point out of this game, and they take on the Carolina Hurricanes tonight with a chance to really boost themselves into a more comfortable position. These three points were massive, thought.

- Side note from the game: My God the Penguins announcers are hard to listen to. I watched the game highlights and had to endure them, and it was really hard for me not to just mute the computer. When Jussi Jokinen scored the two of them literally sounded like they had won the lottery. They were squealing like children. The Nash goal? There wasn't even an increase in their emotion. It was as though nothing had happened. I know Sam and Joe and pretty much every announcing team are homers for their team to a degree, but Sam gets excited for all goals. These two literally sounded like they were at a funeral.

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