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Rangers Vs. Wild: Wait, What Just Happened?

Notes from the Rangers crazy win over the Wild.

Bruce Bennett

Before we get going I want to just let you guys know there won't be any analysis of the Chris Kreider or John Moore hits in this recap. Those deserve their own story which will go up later today.

- And before we go any farther ...

I thought there might be a time stamp on that. There isn't. If you go to my Twitter page (you should be following me anyway) you'll see I tweeted that at 8:55 p.m. Before the third period started. With the Rangers down two players and 3-0 on the scoreboard. So keep that moment in mind when I say crazy optimistic things and you all want to tell me I'm nuts. I know things. The proof is above. I don't know what I know, but I know. I know ...

- Here are some facts from last night's game:

1) The Rangers were down 3-0 AND 4-2 at separate parts of the third period.

2) The Rangers had two (2) player ejected from the game.

3) The Rangers killed off two (2) five-minute major penalties.

4) The Rangers went 4-4 on the penalty kill, which is deceiving since they actually killed off 14 minutes of penalty time; which equates out to seven minor penalties.

5) The Rangers scored goals 2:06 apart AND :37 seconds apart in the comeback win.

6) The Wild gave up six goals going into Monday night's game. The Rangers scored five goals in the third period.

- Players of the game last night were Rick Nash (a goal and an assist) and Derick Brassard (a goal and two assists). Brassard, specifically, has been coming around of late -- which has made a massive difference to the Rangers' offense as a whole. Nash has been a monster from day one, was one of the only players active from the start and had one of his best games of the year. Nine goals through nine games for him.

- Henrik Lundqvist, I thought, looked really good despite giving up four goals. I'm not sure you can blame him for any of them, to be honest. And his best save of the night came off a puck that was deflected by Ryan McDonagh which then got transitioned up the ice for the Nash goal.

- Kevin Klein (a goal and an assist) probably had his best game as a Ranger. Dan Girardi was good (and has been the past few games). McDonagh and Marc Staal looked better and Matt Hunwick (two assists) probably had his best game of the year, too.

- Anthony Duclair. Play the man! Why isn't he playing every night? Before he scored the game-tying goal, he was one of the Rangers best forwards. That sequence in the third where he stole the puck, absorbed a hit, gave a hit of his own (with the puck) and still made a perfect pass to a streaking Lee Stempniak was intoxicating. He's intoxicating to watch. And seeing him streak down the ice, score his first career goal and then wear the Broadway Hat after the game was special. Not being able to hear the PA announcer when he was announcing the goal because the Garden was so loud was special, too. Alain Vigneault said if Duclair kept playing like that him being in the lineup every night would be an easy decision. He has a goal and four assists in seven games, not sure what more you could want from him.

- What a big game from Mats Zuccarello, too. After the Wild's third goal (where Zuccarello was puck watching and lost his man in the slot) I tweeted this:

Well, he bounced back to prove me wrong. A goal (the game winning goal, no less) and two assists. The Rangers need him to come around, and he did get off to a slow start last year as well. The third period Mats Zuccarello is exactly what the doctor ordered. And to be fair, his PDO was (I believe) .875 for the year entering the third period, which is absurdly low. He had to find a little bit of puck luck eventually.

- By the way, is there anything better than a Zuccarello/Brassard goal celebration? Especially a big goal like last night. It's like two kids on Christmas morning that got exactly what they wanted under the tree.

- The Rangers won the game in spectacular fashion (which really does gloss over the warts from last night) but my word when the defense is bad it's bad. That's not just on the defenseman, it's on the forwards, too. When the Wild scored their fourth goal (and took all the life out of the crowd) it was thanks to horrific clearance attempts and puck watching from the forwards. That's a problem, and it puts too much pressure on an already hurting defense.

- This is another game where the Rangers fought and clawed their way back into a victory. Down two of their most important players, it's a really good win. Yes, there are defensive issues that need to be addressed. But those issues should sort themselves out when Derek Stepan and Dan Boyle return.

- I've seen a lot of people highlight how bad this game could have been if the Rangers didn't architect a brilliant, miracle comeback. And while they're right, this isn't necessarily like the victory over the Devils where the Rangers were putrid without reason the first 40 minutes. The two majors (and being down a top forward and yet another defenseman) hurts a lot more than it might seem. The Rangers killed off a five-minute major and then relaxed a little and were down 2-0. Pushing the tempo later in the period they got caught and were down 3-0. It wasn't as terrible as it seemed if you dug down a little deeper.

That's a great way to go into this break -- the Rangers don't play again until Saturday -- no?