Rangers Vs. Sabres: I Don't Know What That Was, But Whatever
Notes from the Rangers' win over the Sabres.
- I know it's something that happens all the time, but it really got to me last night. The New York Rangers clinch home ice in the first round of the playoffs and all the talking heads from ESPN Radio can talk about is Michael Pineda's substance on his hand during his start against the Boston Red Sox. Really? Same thing goes for all the local papers. Maybe that's another reason why this space is so successful. Not only for the Rangers fans who want to actually, you know, talk about the Rangers, but for the New York sports fans who realize the Rangers clinching home ice in the first round is more important than Pineda's hand. Plus it's baseball ... in April.
- Anyway, that wasn't exactly the way I expected the Rangers to clinch home ice. What a disaster of a game that was. It was like both teams were bored and had nothing better to do. Certainly not a good showing from the Rangers, despite the two points. Hopefully that was their last game like that of the year.
- And yet, the Rangers found a way to win. Rick Nash rifles a shot into the top corner with under two minutes left, and the Rangers walk away with a 2-1 lead. With Nash (and Martin St. Louis who set him up) it can be that quick. And it was Thursday night.
- As for St. Louis, I think he's been really good of late. Three assists on Tuesday, the primary assist on the game-winning goal Thursday. I thought he was really good against the Sabres outside the assist, too, but he needs to start being more selfish. When he's in shooting areas he needs to start shooting. I get that he's snake-bitten right now, but you can't change that by passing the puck.
- Speaking of not shooting, I really feel as though Mats Zuccarello plays a game in his head while he's on the ice. He tries to move into the most dangerous shooting area of the ice without actually, you know, shooting the puck. He's really good at this game.
- Zuccarello did set up Benoit Pouliot, however, for the Rangers' first goal at the end of the second. And what a pass that was, so you take his non-shooting lumps.
- Pouliot needs to be close to the top of the priority list in terms of re-signing free agents this summer. Who would have thought that at the beginning of the year?
- Derek Stepan and Zuccarello both recorded their 40th assists of the season. Stepan has 57 points and Zuccarello has 59. Funny, with the way people bow down to Zuccarello you'd think they would give Stepan some love too. Those must be a massive two points he doesn't have.
- When the Rangers get Ryan McDonagh back they're obviously going to be very happy. He's just such a presence on the blue line. But the Rangers do need to be pleased with the defense they have gotten without McDonagh. I don't think it's been nearly as bad as people expected it to be.
- I think it speaks to what the Rangers have that when Alain Vigneault needs a big shift, or some puck possession, he throws the fourth line on the ice.
- So the Rangers have home ice locked up, and nothing to play for against Montreal. I expect Cam Talbot to start (no reason not to), McDonagh to sit again (no real reason to play him) and to maybe see Ryan Haggerty get a look (again, no reason not to).