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Rangers Vs. Panthers: U-G-L-Y

Notes from the Rangers win over the Panthers.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

- So let's go over a few things from last night.

1) A fourth line which wouldn't have even been together if Tanner Glass didn't get hurt (I'm assuming in his fight) against Buffalo was not only the Rangers best line but scored both goals in the game.

2) James Sheppard (who was sitting for Glass the past three games) scored the game's first goal and his first in three games on Broadway.

3) Matt Hunwick -- who people eviscerated me on Twitter for saying he wouldn't miss a beat replacing Kevin Klein -- scores his first goal as a Ranger and adds an assist.

4) Cam Talbot continues his dominance replacing Henrik Lundqvist, now increasing his Hank-less record to 15-2-3.

Yeah, pretty much exactly how we all drew it up in September.

- Fact of the matter is, this fourth line needs to play. They just have to be kept together. Forget the goal, Sheppard is a wildly better player who can pass his way out of pressure and is responsible in his own zone. On top of that, he can actually possess the puck in the offensive zone and he adds offense from the fourth line. He's done in one game what Glass hasn't been able to do in 52 ... score a goal.

- And since we're going to stick to the theme, some of the media had speculated J.T. Miller would have been the guy sitting if Glass could go. Really? I mean, really, really? At what point does the insanity end here? The top six were dreadful Sunday night, and the Rangers only survived because the bottom six carried their weight and then some -- oh, and Talbot was spectacular.

- Almost everyone else? Yuck. The top six, outside of Rick Nash were horrific. I actually thought Sunday was one of Martin St. Louis' better games, but he wasn't exactly setting the bar very high. I thought Keith Yandle was spectacular all around and I had no real complaints with with Dan Boyle either.

- The Rangers were very, very lucky Talbot played as good as he did. Probably the best game I've ever seen him play. I said this before but I want to say it again: If you put Talbot in Hank's pads last night you would have never known the difference. The saves were on that level. And the only reason the Rangers got anything, let alone two points, was because of him.

- Eventually these efforts will come back to bite the Rangers. This game was really bad -- although it was the first game home after a road trip -- and the Saturday matchup against Buffalo wasn't astoundingly better. The Panthers are not a real playoff team, benefiting from the shootout 17 times this year. If that opponent is Chicago or Anaheim (two of the Rangers next three games) it's a dominated loss.

- The two points are worth their weight in gold, though. The Rangers continue to find a way to win games, which is an extraordinarily useful trait come the playoffs. This was probably the first game I can remember this year where the Rangers were 100% dominated and still somehow won the game. There just haven't been many efforts like that this year.