NYR 7, Columbus 4
We are the goon squad and we're coming to town....beep, beep. No I'm not talking about Sean Avery and his obsession with shoes and fashion, I am talking about how John Tortorella and his New York Rangers decided to raise the roof and give themselves and the fans a little taste of the ooh laaa laaa we got used to at the beginning of the season - a fashionable undressing from top to bottom.
If you were in need of further suffering and decided to watch tonight's game against the surging Columbus Blue Jackets, led by former Philadelphia Flyers coach Kenny Hitchcock, you would have noticed two things in the opening nine minutes of the first period. First, the evenly matched game left the Rangers down 0-2, spectators filled with that 'ole familiar feeling', the foreshadowing of another loss that was yet to come. Secondly, admirable Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock appeared to be more overweight than usual. I think the guy ate Nik Antropov this afternoon!!?
So things half way through the first period didn't look good for the Rangers, so Coach John Tortorella called a spontaneous and unexpected timeout - a moment that would last a lifetime (or realistically until I finished writing this blog entry). With nine minutes left on the clock, Torts kept his cool (or so it looked from the 200's section) and reminded his boys that there was plenty of hockey left to be played, the game was early, they had played well up until that point and he wasn't about to point fingers. When Chris Higgins accidentally called him Tom Renney, it might have gone a different direction, but Torts didn't mind it - keeping his cool and encouraging his boys to continue playing good hockey (I made up the Higgins story part of it).
Needless to say, the timely timeout was the game changer. Official game recap.
And there began the onslaught of Rangers' offense of seven goals in a row - a phenomenon not seen since October when the Rangers were on top of the league, defying and proving chemistry on a squad can be coached by arrogance and accountability. Each goal symbolic of the early seven game winning streak last October (ohhh, my nostalgia bubbles over). Largely carried by Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaboriks' scoring throughout the season, tonight we saw a strong effort and results from Sean Avery (2 goals), Artem Anisimov (1 goal), Michael Del Zotto, (dare I say) Wade Redden, Marc Staal and Matt Gilroy - 1 goal - (and let us not forget Vinny (1 assist) and Marian (2 goals, 2 assists) - who did their usual part). Sean Avery was a standout tonight -- he fought, he agitated, he scored, and for all that, he was given more ice time to prove himself even further. I hope this is a readjustment for Avery.
Tonight was Sean Avery and coach John Tortorella's victory (oh yeah, and that healthy dude we picked up from the Minnesota Wild last summer).
Our goaltending King Henrik Lundqvist played as Prince tonight, not his usual self as he let through a couple of clunkers at the wrong moments, pulling out the win having let four goals through. Not great but no one should complain. Aaron Voros won anonymously in a punching match against Jarod Boll's jersey, and because the jersey lost the bout, the Blue Jackets never changed the tenor of the game. Later in the third period, Columbus surged ahead with two more goals, making the evening slightly reminiscent of a 'never to be mentioned again' Montreal game seasons ago, but it never went further than a fleeting awful thought.
The sweetest goal of the night, as there were many for the Rangers, was the third goal where Michael Del Zotto took back a puck, carried it over three lines weaving in and out of three Blue Jackets - at the time unassisted - carried it forward and scored. It was sweet and I look forward to more of those.
So the New York Rangers are now 12-10-1, tied with 25 points in the Atlantic Division with Philadelphia and the Islanders. We can all hope this will remind our boys that they have it in them to score goals and are built as an offensive machine with a system behind them that provides scoring opportunities. Tonight's victory is the 'first of a five-game stretch, all in one week', next up a rematch against the Florida Panthers.
Tonight was fun, but Wednesday means more. Let's show them Wednesday that hockey doesn't belong in