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Rangers Vs. Sharks: Breaking The Streak

Notes from the Rangers win over the Sharks.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

- Things Joe Cannot Prove But Absolutely Believes Volume I: If Marc Staal's goal (which was deflected by a Sharks' defenseman on the way in) doesn't go in then neither does Jesper Fast's breakaway goal or maybe even Mats Zuccarello's power play goal. When the puck isn't bouncing your way pucks just don't go in. It's just the way it works.

- I love Staal goals because they always have two aspects to them. 1) It's always a perfect shot (Staal's shot might have hit a Shark's stick on the way in but it was bar down and perfect) and 2) Staal is always the last guy on the ice to know he scored. Watch his celebration, he hastily shoots his arms up after everyone reacts because he had no idea it went in.

- Things Joe Cannot Prove But Absolutely Believes Volume II: If the official goal scorers would have given Rick Nash the Zuccarello goal (I still think it hit his stick on the way in) then his breakaway shot that he rang off the pipe goes in. Again, it's just the way hockey works. Eventually Nash is going to score an ugly goal (it will probably go in off his leg or something) and then he's going to erupt like a volcano. Mark my words.

- Alain Vigneault listened to my pleas for keeping a lineup together more than a game and it finally paid off. The new lines started to make things work and meshed well together. The fourth line (again, a real fourth line) was great and actually drove a lot of possession. I don't love Viktor Stalberg down on the fourth line but he works well with Dominic Moore and Jarret Stoll and adds a scoring tough to a defensive line. It works, even if I don't love the idea of him down there.

- I really do believe the biggest aspect of the changes Vigneault made was finally getting (and keeping) Girardi away from Ryan McDonagh. How much better does McDonagh look away from Girardi? The different is black and white. Girardi is an anchor (a much more in-depth story coming on this soon) and without him McDonagh flourished.

- Keith Yandle, who is paired with Girardi now, was a -8 in corsi last night after being paired with Girardi. He entered the game in the top-5 in terms of possession on the Rangers this year (I don't think he had a negative game to this point) and got dragged into the basement (third worst on NYR last night). Girardi was again a -9 bringing his total season differential to -45. Woof. Just woof.

- But Yandle was instrumental on the Fast goal -- there's a goal breakdown story coming here about him passing out of pressure -- and I don't think he had a bad game overall. He was a part of the power play goal, too, even if he didn't get an assist. Yandle streaked in down the side to just pull Martin Jones off the post enough for Zuccarello's goal to slip through. What a goal that was, too.

- Dan Boyle is having an up and down start to the year. Last night was an up, and he added an assist on the power play goal.

- The Rangers were at their best tonight when Yandle, Boyle, Staal, McDonagh and Kevin Klein (who is making me look like an idiot) were able to move the puck up in transition to let the Rangers used their wheels. Girardi was a car stuck in the mud and it showed when his group continued to get hemmed into the zone. That's going to be a continued problem if it's not fixed, and I'm not sure there's anything Girardi can fix.

- Chris Kreider also cannot buy a goal (he hit a post, too), but his pass to spring Fast was so pretty I don't know what to do with it. That was just a great play all around, but some vision by Kreider to hit him in stride.

- Kevin Hayes is thinking too much. Simplify the game. He's going to be an amazing player. He already is very good. He just needs to make quicker decisions and speed his game up. Those extra seconds are costing him.

- Antti Raanta is, well, really good. Like Adam said, I love Cam Talbot but that's why you sell high on backup goaltending. Good for him to grab the shutout and good on him to step in and step up in a big spot.

- That's a big win for a lot of reasons but mainly because it gets the Rangers off the streak and the offense cashed in a few times. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is find that first goal, and when they did they kept their game together for a full 60 minutes. That might have been the best 60 combined minutes the Rangers have played all year.