Friday, February 18, 2011

The King Topples the Kings for his 200th Win | NYR 4 LAK 3 [sho]

There are just some games where you really really should have been there to enjoy it. From what several fans told me, last night was one of them. Thankfully, it was also kids' night and the young fans in attendance got to see quite the game.

The Rangers and Kings played an entertaining up-and-down the ice game without the dirtiness and brutality that marks so many games against Eastern Conference foes. The Rangers, relying on their season-long resiliency and trademark strong 3rd period surges, defeated the Kings in a shootout by a score of 4-3. The official recap is here.

A Captain Earning his C. Kings' Captain Dustin Smith had 2 goals for L.A.
including the game tying goal with less than 3 minutes left in regulation.

The Kings put on a skating exhibition for a full 60 minutes, justifying their lofty standing out West, proving that their Sunday victory in Philly was deserved and showing Ranger fans that their recent 8-0-3 streak was no fluke.

Fortunately, Jonathan Quick was not in goal for the Kings or else the result could have been different. His replacement, Jonathan Bernier, was shaky at times especially in the 3rd period and shootout. The Kings had 9 shots each period and the Rangers at least 10 as both teams played offensively minded hockey the entire game.

Besides grabbing 2 points, the best thing about the game for the Rangers is seeing the positive impact of the return of the wounded have had --

Exhibit A is Ryan Callahan who proves time and time again that captaincy is his destiny. He scored in the 2nd period to awaken the slumbering Ranger offense. He was all over the ice, helping to kill penalties and provide a jolt of energy to the squad.

Meanwhile, his counterpart, Brandon Dubinsky, who scored the team's 3rd goal providing the Rangers with a brief 3rd period lead, again found himself sitting in the penalty box thanks to 3 foolish penalties that either broke the team's momentum including nullifying the back half of a 4 minute double minor in overtime.

Exhibit B is Vinny Prospal whose return has re-energized linemate Marian Gaborik. He scored an important goal for the first time since Obama became President as his tally gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. More importantly, Gaborik has scored 9 points in his last 9 games.

"Here, let me get this." Christensen puts Bernier out of his
misery by escorting the puck into the net. EC is 4 for 4 in shootouts.

Exhibit C is Eric Christensen whose shootout prowess is undeniable. His undressing of King goalie Jonathan Bernier was so ridiculous that it almost appeared Christensen was ashamed to score.

His goal provided a model for Mats Zuccarello to follow when he gave the Rangers a 2-0 shootout lead as Mats deked to Bernier's right and left him just as out of position.

Deja blue. Zuccarello putting the finishing touch on
his latest successful execution of another goalie.

The victory gave the Rangers a 2 game win streak, both wins coming at home this week. It also gave them a little cushion as they took advantage of other playoff competitors losing this week -- the Canadiens (to Buffalo), the Canes (to NJ), Atlanta (to Phoenix) and Buffalo (to Toronto).

The importance of last night's victory cannot be overstated. The Rangers are visiting Newark tonight to face the 13-1-2 Devils (since January 8). Then a home match against Philly for Sunday brunch.

The Rangers can effectively terminate the Devils' lingering playoff hopes. Their fans have risen from the grave recently to taunt Ranger fans. It is the final cry of the fans before the fingers of futility close around the season for New Jersey. It would be sweet to see the Rangers throttle them tonight.

--- The Graying Mantis

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