Found March 14, 2012 on Blue Seat Blogs:
Dallas_stars_v_4144

The Rangers got the better of the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 4-2 at The Garden tonight.  The Blueshirts were led by an unbelievable performance from the newly formed Hagelin-Richards-Gaborik line, resulting in all four Rangers goals and extended puck possession and pressure for the entire game.  Let’s get to those bullets…

  • 1st period
  • The Rangers got off to a strong start, creating chances from multiple areas of the offensive zone.
  • The forecheck was another positive facet of the Rangers’ game early.  All four lines were able to create pressure in the offensive zone.
  • Marian Gaborik started the scoring off early in the first.  Dan Girardi sent a point shot wide, and Gabby popped in a beautiful little shot off Cam Ward’s pad.  1-0 Rangers.
  • The penalty kill was working in the first period.  Marty Biron made several key saves despite a somewhat boneheaded move to try and clear the zone up the middle.  Ruslan Fedetenko made a great save to bail him out of that one.
  • Oh that Jeff Skinner, you can’t take your eye off him for a second.
  • It was very clear early on that the aforementioned Hagelin-Richards-Gaborik line was the best unit on the ice.  Hagelin was absolutely flying in the first.
  • 2nd period
  • The second started off a little slow, but that wouldn’t last long.  During the lull I remember thinking that John Mitchell is a pretty strong puck handler, but he always seems to try to make that one extra move or hold the puck one second too long.
  • Martin Biron made an enormous save on Brandon Sutter to keep the game 1-0.
  • The Rangers would extend the lead to 2-0 on a Brad Richards top shelf snipe.  The Rangers had a strong forecheck and forced the Carolina defender to deflect the puck on goal.  Cam Ward was clearly surprised by the play and lost his stick in the scramble.  He tried to reset himself as Richards took a sneaky little shot through the defender and up where grandma hides the cookies. 2-0 Rangers.
  • The (this line really needs a nickname) Richard’s line struck again with an unbelievable play by Carl Hagelin leading to another Brad Richard’s goal.  He shielded the puck with his body before sliding a beautiful reverse pass to find Richards all alone in the slot.  He carried the puck to the center for a better angle and fired another beauty into the top shelf.  Ridiculously patient play by Richards. 3-0 Rangers.
  • The Rangers would be stung by a couple of unfortunate deflections later in the period.  The first Carolina goal was scored on the powerplay on a call I wasn’t a huge fan of.  Mats Zuccarello was called for tripping when the reply showed he didn’t make nearly enough contact to justify a penalty, but whatever, it is what it is.  3-1 Rangers.
  • Carolina would strike again :32 seconds later on a broken odd-man rush.  The attempted shot slid right onto the stick of Drayson (I don’t think that’s a real first name) Bowman, who fired the puck past Biron.  3-2 Rangers.
  • Cam Ward made several key saves at the end of the 2nd period to keep this one 3-2 going into the second intermission.
  • 3rd period
  • The third period started off with a symphony of iron.  First, Eric Staal hit the post on a shorthanded chance.  Then Mats Zuccarello hit iron on a Rangers’ powerplay, and Marian Gaborik hit the post on a laser shortly after the powerplay expired.
  • The games really started to open up in the third period.  Odd man rushes were common place and both teams exchanged chances.  I would imagine this did not sit too well with Torts.
  • Carl Hagelin would finally get the goal he deserved with seven minutes left to play.  He made a nice little pass to Gaborik for a quality chance before getting the puck back behind the net.  Tim Gleason cheated for the pass and Hagelin was able to walk right around Cam Ward for a much needed insurance goal.  4-2 Rangers.
  • The ‘Canes pulled Ward with about 2 minutes left, but to no avail.  The Blueshirts would hold on the win despite being without Lundqvist, Callahan and Del Zotto.

Goaltending Analysis

  • I thought Cam Ward played well despite his statistical line.  He had some trouble with rebounds, but was incredibly frustrating as Carolina clawed their way back.  I think he’s going to get serious consideration for the Canadian Olympic team in 2014 (assuming NHL players play that is).
  • Marty Biron rebounded nicely from some subpar outings recently and gave the Rangers exactly the kind of performance they needed.  He made some big saves early and I wouldn’t put much if any blame on him for the two Carolina goals.  Bad bounces.

Random thoughts

  • Just how good was the top line tonight? Gaborik: 1g, 2a, +4, 6 SOG. Richards: 2g, 1a, +3, 4 SOG.  Hagelin: 1g, 2a, +4, 5 SOG.  Dominant.
  • The defense was very good overall tonight.  There were times where it looked like Carolina would be able to create a chance and the whole zone would close in on them.  Staal played big against his brother.
  • If Tort’s decides to keep this line together, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the lines begin to take shape.  Would you like to see a Dubinsky-Stepan-Callahan line?  Anisimov-Stepan-Cally?
  • Magic number is now just 4 pts for a playoff spot.  The difference a year makes.

Off tomorrow, then the big showdown with Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Thursday.  Even if the Pens win, they will still be down 4 points with just 12 games to go, but wouldn’t an 8 point lead look nice?

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