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Rangers Vs. Lightning: That Was Better

Notes from the Rangers win over the Lightning.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

- That was a much better all around performance from a team that desperately needed a win and even more desperately needed a win like that. Maybe it wasn't the best game (it wasn't) and maybe the opponent is struggling too (they are) but at the end of the day the Rangers beat a very good hockey team and played well to boot.

- The top line played pretty well. Mats Zuccarello scored a stupid-good goal where he picked the top corner. Rick Nash potted an empty net goal. In terms of possession Derick Brassard was a -2, Nash was a -1 and Zuccarello was even. Not great (the group saw about 53% offensive zone starts) but much better than it has been. And Nash was owed a few goals from the loss to the Predators.

- Keith Yandle's assist on the Dan Boyle goal is a perfect example why he needs to play on the power play and play more in general. His shot-fake moved the entire defense AND Ben Bishop to leave Boyle with a wide open net for an easy finish. Such a smarty play.

- In terms of power play time Boyle played over four minutes (fine), Ryan McDonagh played over three minutes (not ideal) and Yandle didn't even play three minutes (nonsensical). I can't figure it out either, but tried to warn you all of what I think is going to happen on Wednesday.

- Remember when Boyle was the problem? (A select media member actually still thinks he is, believe it or not). A goal and an assist to bring his season total up to 12 points in 31 games. Not bad for a guy that couldn't get into the lineup for unknown reasons earlier in the year.

- I thought it was a great game from J.T. Miller (who had an assist) and Derek Stepan (who was a defensive monster). I thought Viktor Stalberg was fine and didn't have a major problem with any of the forwards. Dominic Moore scored the game-winning goal on a sick move, and Tanner Glass was tied for second in shot differential (+2) for forwards.

- Although, if Kevin Hayes had taken two penalties (one ended up in the back of the net thanks to Anton Stralman), the way Glass did I'd bet it would be an issue. And how Alain Vigneault handles Hayes at this point will be interesting. Remember, the long term health of the club has to do with Hayes getting back into gear. Benching Hayes was to wake him up, not really to make the team better by removing him -- although if it serves to send a message to everyone then good. So yes, the Rangers won the game, but that doesn't mean Hayes needs to sit until they lose again. That doesn't make sense. Although it will probably happen that way.

- Raw stats for the pillars of defense:

Marc Staal: -4 in shot differential, -6 in scoring chance differential.

Dan Girardi: -5 in shot differential, -3 in scoring chances. (These numbers, however, are helped by a monster third period shift that inflated the totals. Through two periods Girardi's corsi was 29%.)

Dylan McIlrath: Continues to sit.

- I honestly forgot Ryan Callahan played for the Lightning. Seriously. I did not forget Stralman or Brian Boyle did. Not sure why.

- I really liked the fact the Rangers hung with the Lightning in terms of possession (43-40 edge to Tampa) despite being up in the third. The Rangers did shift into the shell a little but did a better job staying up on the Lightning and not just sitting on their heels.

- Henrik Lundqvist, I thought, had a great bounce back game from what's been a pretty disastrous December.