There have been numerous times throughout this season where we have seriously questioned the overall ability of this team. After some much need adjustments, the Rangers are finally rolling how everyone excepted them to be, and it doesn't appear that this is just a fluke. They're thoroughly dominating teams as of late, and they're also beating some really skilled teams in the process as well. Even though the Rangers have been having enormous success, there has been some drama mixed in, in regards to Ryan Callahan. Well, I think it's safe to say that if Callahan keeps playing like he did tonight, he won't be going anywhere fast.
Henrik Lundqvist had yet another dominating performance in the blue paint, and these types of games are starting to become the norm once again. Also, how about Kevin Klein? He's been completely unnoticeable, and that's just how he plays his game. It's a huge compliment to how well he's adjusted to coming in, and he's doing everything you could ask from a defensemen of his caliber. It's a breath of fresh air compared to the Del Zotto miscues and stretch passes.
Anyways, on to the actual game. Right from the drop of the puck, the Rangers quickly jumped on the attack and never really looked back. Within the first six minutes of the game, the Rangers had an 11-2 shot advantage, and if not for Semyon Varlamov, this game would have been out of hand pretty early. Finally, after smothering pressure by the Rangers, they finally solved Varlamov at the 14:16 mark of the first period.
With all of the trade talk surrounding Callahan, he had one hell of game tonight. Carl Hagelin create this goal with great speed to create a 2-on-1, and quickly dished the puck over to Cally. With tons of space to work with, Callahan quickly switched to his bank hand and slip it under the arm of Varlamov. It didn't stop there.
A little under three minutes later, Callahan chipped in his second goal of the night, and gave the Rangers a commanding 2-0 lead. After a mad scramble in front of the crease, Brad Richards winds up getting a stick on the puck, and made an unbelievable feed back to Callahan who was wide open. Callahan wasted zero time and snapped the puck over the shoulder of Varly.
It was just a massive start to the game for the Rangers, and you couldn't have asked for a better opening period. While the Rangers were playing well, they were forced into killing off an early penalty coming from Dan Girardi. After a few big saves from Henrik Lundqvist, the Avalanche were finally able to break through. You have to give credit where it is due, and all the credit in the world goes to Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Paul Stastny. They executed a perfect triangle on the power play, and Landeskog wound up ripping it off of the crossbar and in behind Lundqvist.
A little under a minute later though, the Rangers got right back on the scoreboard with a goal coming from Anton Stralman. The initial shot was a floater from the point, but the puck wound up deflecting off of Matt Duchene and in behind Varlamov. Everything was fine and dandy up until the final four minutes of the period. Both Chris Kreider and Dan Girardi each took penalties ten seconds apart, which set up a 1:50 5-on-3 for the Avs. The four man unit of Brian Boyle, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, and Henrik Lundqvist absolutely killed in with the two-man disadvantage.
They took away every single passing lane for the Avalanche, and kept everything to the outside of the face-off dots. It was a huge momentum shift in the game, as the Avalanche had a golden opportunity to get right back into the game, but the Rangers weathered the storm and kept on trekking ahead.
The Rangers wound up chipping in two more goals throughout the third period from from Derick Brassard, and Brad Richards. Brassard's goal was actually pretty comical as he wound up deflecting the puck off of Ryan O'Reilly in front to extend the lead to 4-1. Richards eventually closed out the scoring with a little over a minute left off of a spectacular no-look pass from Captain Cally.
The Rangers have two more games before they head into the Olympic break, and they are looking to close it out on a high note. The Edmonton Oilers are scheduled to be in town on Thursday, and they close out the pre-Olympic schedule on Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.