Rangers Vs. Capitals: That's More Like It
Notes from the Rangers win over the Capitals.
- I tweeted about how big of a win that was after the win last night, but I'll expand on it here. That is much more of what we can expect from this team when they start clicking. That's Alain Vigneault's system in a nutshell. The team defended well (for the most part, there were a few blown assignments), made things happen in the offensive zone and controlled the play. The Rangers dominated the first 40 minutes of the game, then they sat back a little more in the third. Not as much as they would have last year, but it's still something I'd like to see them avoid. I think some of it was the boys just grinding for the much-needed win.
- I'll touch on the Derek Stepan incident quickly here. In other circumstances it might make sense for someone to instigate a fight with Troy Brouwer. Last night wasn't the right time. The Rangers needed the win a whole hell of a lot more than they needed to make a physical statement. Maybe if the Rangers were 4-1 and rolling it would make some sense. But with their start, and especially their recent losses, it doesn't make any sense to give the NHL's best power play another two minutes.
- Thankfully Stepan was OK and came back to the bench, I think he was stunned more than anything else. And once he did come back he made some heady plays and didn't look foggy at all. Hopefully he's OK today.
- I've seen a couple of replays of the hit and I find it really hard to believe Brouwer had no idea he was about to crush Stepan. He wasn't even skating that hard, and he hit him right in the head. Regardless of whether or not you think the hit was dirty, it should have at the very least been an interference penalty.
- There were a lot of people who panicked about the Marian Gaborik trade when the Rangers started struggling this year. That probably had to do with two very quiet games from Derick Brassard and three rough outings for John Moore. I won't even touch on Derek Dorsett. Wednesday night was Moore's best game of the season. His goal was the result of a perfectly placed shot (a little bit of luck there) but he played well all night. He looked good on the power play, shot when he had the opportunity (you don't score if you're not shooting) and defended well all night. I think he's going to be a stud, I really do.
- Same goes for Brassard. He was really active all night, finished the game with an assist and had a plethora of good chances. Those will turn into goals eventually.
- And Brad Richards. Still think he's useless and can't be trusted to do anything right? I told you from the beginning he might bounce back this year (I also said he might not), but regardless of the Richards we were getting it didn't make sense to buy him out this summer. There was nothing on the market for the Rangers to look into this summer, and they knew what they had with Richards. There was risk involved (and there will be until the end of the year) based off of injuries, but right now he's playing Brad Richards hockey. Two assists last night, four goals and three assists on the year. The Rangers have needed players to step up with all the injuries and adjustments and he has.
- Henrik Lundqvist was in beast mode Wednesday night. He got really lucky (and so did the Rangers) that Joel Ward flubbed a perfectly executed tic-tac-toe passing play that saw him have the entire top half of the net wide open. Aside from that? Lundqvist was his old self. He was aggressive, made big saves when needed and got that big performance he was looking for to hopefully get his head on straight. The Rangers needed it, so did he.
- Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal were very good. They played really well all night and went up against one of the better offenses in the league, so, that was good to see. Speaking of defending, that was a masterful job on the 5-on-3 (aside from the Ward incident).
- Ryan Callahan. Do I have to say anything else? How much did you guys miss him?
- I do love how Vigneault spreads the ice time. Jesper Fast played eight minutes, Dorsett played almost 10 and Justin Falk played nearly nine. Those are the only players who didn't see a pretty fair rotation. A lot better than seeing three or four players below five minutes.
- That's a big win, but like some of those losses, it's just one game. The Rangers have a lot of work to do, but the hell section of their road trip is almost over. Wednesday was a big game, though, and hopefully the team can continue building on this momentum.