Rangers Vs. Maple Leafs: Oh, That's Where The Momentum Went

Notes from the Rangers' win over the Maple Leafs.

- The difference between the first 20 minutes on Saturday and the first 20 minutes Sunday is night and day. The New York Rangers were just hungrier than the Toronto Maple Leafs were on Saturday, and it showed with the Rangers jumping out to an early 2-0 lead. They followed up the first 20 with an even better second 20 and the next thing you know the Rangers are in business.

- This game is a pretty good example of why I get a pit in my stomach when I really think about blowing things up. This team can win and hang with tough opponents. They can hang with anyone when they play like they did Saturday night. I know, I know, the Leafs don't exactly harp on team defense, but the Rangers were competent and passed about as well as a hockey team can pass.

- Jekyll and Hyde. This team got rocked 5-2 against Pittsburgh and then win 7-1 the next night. Does that make any sense? Probably not, but it's been like this all season.

- Example of that passing? The Benoit Pouliot goal. Derick Brassard makes an outstanding move to create space, saucers a perfect pass to Marc Staal who gives Pouliot the slam dunk opportunity.

- And since we're talking about Brassard, let's take a minute to really talk about how he's stepped up his game after the slow start. This recent stretch is a perfect example of why I think his game has been better than his numbers show. He's a past-first guy, and when his linemates aren't finish it hurts his production. But ever since Pouliot found his game, Brassard's started racking up the points. That's nine points in his last nine games.

- Of course we also need to mention Pouliot. A big goal against the Maple Leafs resulted in him scoring his 10th point in his last 11 games. Pouliot now has eight goals and seven assists for 15 points in 41 games. I know those aren't great numbers, but this Pouliot is worth holding onto.

- I though Chris Kreider was one of the Rangers' best forwards all night. Forget the highlight-reel, jaw-dropping goal he scored to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead, he was involved and active all game. His defense has gotten much better and his goal scoring is coming along -- he leads the team with 11 goals. And, just to note, the finish on his goal was something very few players could do. Just beautiful all around.

- I've said it before but I feel like I should say it again. Regardless of whether or not it's converting, the power play looks so much better. It's actually dangerous now.

- Big game from Cam Talbot, too. I know it's easy to look at the 7-1 scoreline and assume it was a sleeper, but Talbot needed to make a bunch of big saves when the game was close to keep the Rangers either tied or in front. My guess is he starts the Rangers next game on Monday, but we'll see. If I were the coach I'd probably give him the nod, but that's me.

- I'm not positive, but I have a feeling Michael Del Zotto was inserted in the lineup on Saturday as more of a showcase than anything else. If you would remember, the Rangers' brass and Del Zotto's agents (Newport) met to talk about the Rangers' repeated efforts to trade him. Then Del Zotto surprisingly takes Conor Allen's place, when Allen was nothing but good against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Seems to me like the Rangers are trying to get as many eyes on him as possible.

- It should also be noted that the Rangers reportedly have interest in a couple of players from the Colorado Avalanche (mainly 22-year-old defenseman Tyson Barrie). The Rangers did have two scouts to watch Colorado Saturday night. Take it for what it is.

- So, the Rangers are a game above .500 again. What are the chances they can make something happen here? They need to make something of a run if they want to separate themselves from the pack. We'll see if they're capable of doing it. This is a win where everything went right, coming 24-hours after everything went wrong. But I maintain, and will continue to maintain, the Rangers that won on Saturday are closer to the real Rangers than the team that lost to Pittsburgh. But consistency has been a major, major problem this year. We'll see if that changes.

Thoughts, guys?