So remember how there was no notes section for the New York Rangers first Stadium Series win over the New Jersey Devils? That's because we were supposed to put both that story and this one into the February Edition of Bluehsirts Monthly. But last night Bryan and I crossed some wires (my fault) and we had to rush to publish the game thread and I'm covering the recap for the win over the New York Islanders. The Devils' notes will still be in the newsletter, you guys get this one here. Win win. Go subscribe for the newsletter if you haven't already. On to the notes.
- I tweeted after the win that you really couldn't overstate just how big of a win that was for the Rangers. If you think about these divisional rivalry games in the sense that both team's results directly impact the standings, it's a four-point game. The Rangers earn two points while the Islanders lose two points. And when you add in the fact these two teams will meet again Friday, that's a potential eight-point swing the Rangers were facing. Since they already won the first game, they have a chance to make some real movement with a win Friday.
- I know it looked like the Rangers were getting handed their lunch through the first 30 minutes when you look at some of the raw stats at face value (shots on goal, corsi and the eye test, too), but it wasn't as simple as that. I actually thought the Rangers played a really great first 30-minutes, even though they only had nine shots through that span. The bounces weren't exactly going their way (puck bouncing on the ice, not lucky bounces) and they just weathered the storm and waited for their chance to counterattack. Which they did.
- Also give Henrik Lundqvist a lot of credit because he was out of this world for the Rangers. Again. What a series of saves in the final few minutes, and when things were 0-0 he made a few Mariano Rivera-like saves (see what I did there?) to keep the game scoreless .
- Since we're on the defense, notice how Kevin Klein was utilized with the Rangers up by a goal in the third and when the game was tied? Alain Vigneault threw him out there every time the Rangers had a rough defensive shift and needed some stability. And that's exactly what he provided. This isn't mean to be a knock on Michael Del Zotto (because defense was never supposed to be his game) but that's something he never could have done with Del Zotto. That "set and forget" mentality when it comes to a defenseman. What an addition Klein has been.
- How much better does John Moore look on his natural left side? Like a different player.
- Rick Nash and Chris Kreider were really, really good I thought. Derek Stepan was OK, had a solid game minus the faceoffs (he got crushed at the dot) and the stupid icing play at the end of the game.
- I also tweeted after the game that I am putting my foot in my mouth big time with Dan Carcillo. Which I am. I was none too pleased the Rangers brought the oft suspended forward in for a seventh round pick, but I'm loving every aspect of that trade right now. He took a bad penalty last night (the first one in the 11 games he's been here -- and it was just at a bad time, not really a bad penalty if that makes sense), but he also played a solid game and scored the game winning goal. He's been nothing but a positive aspect for the Rangers. Some toughness, some life, none of his previous antics and contributing offensively, too.
- Another player I don't think anyone expected to be as important as he has been (especially since his slow, slow start)? Benoit Pouliot. He scored his ninth goal of the season in the win, a huge goal to tie the game just 40 seconds after the Islanders took the lead. Someone mentioned this on twitter this morning, Pouliot now has three times as many goals and four times as many points than David Clarkson. At less than 1/4th the cap hit. What a player he's become for the Rangers. Pierre McGuire said last night "this is the best I've ever seen Pouliot play in the National Hockey League." He and I don't agree much, but we agree there.
- Best stretch of hockey for Marc Staal in a long time too. Maybe ever.
- That's a huge win, against a divisional rival, with a chance to do some real damage to them again on Friday. I have said it before and I will say it again: The Rangers' confidence and mentality is growing by the game. There is no way they would have won that game earlier in the season. But they did Wednesday night. Now they have a chance to make some more positive movement.
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