Rangers Vs. Flyers: That's An Enormous Win
Notes from the Rangers' win over the Flyers.
- The biggest difference between a good team and a great team is the respective team's depth. Good teams have a solid top six (sometimes even a solid top nine) who can run with an opposing team and provide scoring. Great teams have 12 forwards who can play, maybe not all of them score, but even the bottom three or four guys can provide great shifts, good defense and a really high energy level.
- So last night, in an enormous game where you expected guys like Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard to be major factors (and all were in their own ways, despite not scoring) it was Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore and Derek Dorsett who were providing the offense and were fantastic throughout the entire game.
- That's such a change of pace it's hard to even articulate it in words. Remember in 2011 when it was the New Jersey Devils who marched through the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals on the back of their fourth line? Remember last year when Boston's fourth line ran circles around the Rangers on their way to a 4-1 series domination? With this fourth line, those days might be over.
- Now, to the other player you expected to step up in this game, who absolutely did. Henrik Lundqvist was remarkable. Spectacular. Jaw dropping. Stupendous. Enormous (word of the day). Pick a positive adjective and it works. The save he made on Adam Hall when the game was 2-0 was one of the greatest saves I've ever seen. Just the ability to move side to side after making the first save to make that one? Amazing. And don't be fooled, this game would have been much different without Hank between the pipes.
- The other standout who, well, stood out? Ryan McDonagh. My word is he a superstar. After he sniped the corner to give the Rangers a huge 2-0 lead Pierre Mcguire referred to McDonagh as "the biggest mistake Montreal ever made" and he wasn't even exaggerating a little. Seriously, McDonagh is the biggest mistake Montreal ever made.
- Him and Dan Girardi absolutely dominated the Claude Giroux line. I firmly believe that when Glen Sather sat down and realized he might have to chose between Girardi and Ryan Callahan, he looked at what McDonagh and Girardi have been able to do as a pairing, the resumes they've shut down and realized he couldn't separate them.
- Lots of little shout outs. The biggest one goes to Brassard who has finally found his game the past month or so. He didn't find the scoresheet, but he did make a remarkable diving defensive play in the neutral zone to stop a Flyers' breakaway when the game was 2-0. A few minutes later? Moore scores to make the game 3-0.
- I'm surprised Mats Zuccarello didn't try to pass on his breakaway attempt ...
- I loved the little cheap shot by Wayne Simmonds to slash McDonagh's glove off his hand and then slash him again with his glove off. I know it won't happen, but he should be suspended for that. Blatant attempt to injure. I don't care if he's frustrated, you don't do that. You just don't.
- The Rangers are 8-3-1 in the St. Louis era with him only contributing three assists in that span. It's been a horrid slump for him, but that's all it is, a slump. And if the Rangers are 8-3-1 with a slumping St. Louis, imagine what they'll become when he breaks out of it?
- The win pushed the Rangers three points ahead of the Flyers (they have two games in hand) and six points clear of Columbus (they also have two games in hand). As everyone here and elsewhere have talked about, the important thing is avoiding Boston or Pittsburgh in the first round. That means finishing in the top three of the Metropolitan, and the Rangers got themselves a huge two points to do just that. Second place means home ice advantage through the first round at least, and that's where the Rangers currently sit.