Bantering Points: Post Super Bowl Edition
The Super Bowl was yesterday, but there's hockey tomorrow!
- These two-day breaks are much better after the New York Rangers win, no? The Rangers are coming off a huge 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. It was easily the Rangers' best 60-minute effort of the season, and it resulted in a good win against a very good team.
- The Rangers didn't want to get into a run-and-gun game against the Lightning, but they did. And to be honest? The Rangers handled it pretty well. The Rangers are a much faster team this year (especially when Chris Kreider comes back) and they showed on Saturday they can hand with other teams who love to push the puck and push it fast. I wouldn't recommend it for the Rangers, but they can hang if a game gets gets into that territory.
- There is a catch to that last point, and here it is: John Tortorella is getting dangerously close to starting to burn out his top three lines. Saturday the fourth line saw almost no playing time (Benn Ferriero saw the most time with 4:52 of ice time in the win), and that's not exactly a recipe for success in a shortened season.
- Jeff Halpern has become more and more versatile for the Rangers so far this year, hasn't he? He had a really rough start to the year before he started finding his legs and it's shown. The past three games have been solid showings from Halpern, and he had one of his best games against the Lightning winning 60% of his faceoffs in over 13 minutes of ice time.
- I have a new idea for the power play. Throw Nash in front of the net (he belongs there anyway), put Michael Del Zotto and Anton Stralman at the point, run Marian Gaborik at the back door and put Brad Richards at the halfboards. I like this setup for a couple of reasons. The first? I want to see Stralman and Del Zotto run the point together. The second? Nash can clean up all the garbage in front of the net. The third? Richards can alter between shooting and passing more fluidly from the halfboards (plus he hasn't been very good at the point). And fourth? I like the idea of Gaborik at the back door, he can do some real damage there.
- The penalty kill actually didn't look that bad Saturday. Well, aside from allowing Steven Stamkos -- probably the most dangerous scorer in the NHL -- sit in front of the net with no coverage. That's a big mental breakdown, and it cost the Rangers a goal.
- Obviously expect Henrik Lundqvist to get the nod on Tuesday.