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Rangers Vs. Flames: The Return Of Joe

Notes from the Rangers big win over the Flames.

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

- First of all, I want to thank Adam, Mike, Bryan, Nick and Kevin for running the shop while I was gone. If you didn't know, I got married about a week ago and spent a week in wonderful St. Lucia where I was isolated from the outside world. It was lovely. And the Rangers went 3-0 while I was on vacation, which was also nice. I'm sure you guys didn't miss me, but I'm back now, so the democracy is gone. Take up your issues with whatever champion resides in the house banner you fall under. More of them here. Mike is awesome.

- Anyway, the Rangers won their fourth game in a row; three of them on a road trip where they needed to take advantage of a weaker schedule despite being on the West Coast. And the Rangers did just that, beating the Canucks, Oilers and now the Flames in succession. The eight points (including the Penguins win) vaulted the Rangers up to third in the Metro. Amazing what a week or so can do.

- This is no secret, but the Rangers are at their best when they're defense has the ability to transition the puck from the defensive zone up to the speedy wingers in the neutral zone. The Rangers did a lot of that Tuesday night. Both Rick Nash goals (more on him in a minute) and even on the Derek Stepan wraparound that was apparent.

- That's why losing Ryan McDonagh and Dan Boyle hurt so much. Both of those guys are very good at doing just that type of transition.

- Much better from Marc Staal. He's still too up and down in my book for a heavy long, term deal, but the Rangers are so much better when he's playing better. Kevin Klein continues to impress, too.

- When the Rangers traded for Nash I reached out to our friends over at Jackets Cannon and asked about him. The biggest thing I remember Matt talking about was how good Nash's hands are in close. He has ridiculous mitts, and he showed them off on the first goal. What a move, especially considering how little time he had and how fast he was breaking into the zone. What a goal that was. And now he has 20 goals in 29 games -- he had 26 goals in all 65 games last year. Remember when people yelled at me because I yelled at them for booing him? Yeah, fun times.

- I know we've talked about it (or at least I have) but the Rangers missed Stepan so much when he was out. A goal and an assist last night -- 16 points in 17 games so far -- and just so good in his own zone. What else can you say? He's a special player.

- And how much more dangerous is the Rangers' PK with Stepan and Nash killing penalties? Not only that, both guys are good enough defensively to be out there down a man and still find offense from the situation. Big short handed goal in a point of the game where a Calgary goal would have swung the momentum.

- Henrik Lundqvist was really good for a lot of this game. Pitched the shutout in the second game of the back-to-back and was good again Tuesday. He hasn't been as bad as your numbers might make some think anyway but he's been fantastic through this run.

- Props to Chris Kreider for doing the whole "score a really ugly goal to break a skid" thing. Doesn't matter how it comes, just pot one and go. And this was Kreider's best game in a long, long time.

- J.T. Miller, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes (assist), Carl Hagelin (goal) and Jesper Fast were all really, really good. Who sits when Derick Brassard comes back? That's half a joke, but remember Tanner Glass was healthy scratched until Brassard got the mumps, so hopefully he gets the hook again.

- Speaking of, semi props to Glass for sticking up for Miller in the third. That's his job and that's why he's in the lineup, but I hate fights when you're up big. Doesn't really matter what happened (there are exceptions, of course). Up 3-0 in a game where Calgary is looking for anything to get them going? I don't drop the gloves there. And no, Glass fighting Lance Bouma did nothing to stop Bouma from doing anything the rest of the game. But, like I said, semi props for sticking up for the rookie.

- The Rangers won a big one. And now they have a big home and home against Carolina. Big in the sense that the Rangers need those four points badly.