Amid a second period explosion by the Rangers all I could think to myself was, man oh man, this is going to be one fun season. Yes, for something like the 7th time in the 10 games the Rangers have played this season (counting preseason) they had 39+ shots. And yes, yet again against an NHL team they failed to score more than 2 goals. But that’s kind of besides the point. Earlier this offseason, I stated that I felt the Rangers would be a more exciting team. Not sure if they would be better or worse, but I thought they would be more fun to watch, and I have no been disappointed. Swarming like locusts all over the ice the Rangers forced turnover after turnover, and kept the quality chances against Henrik to a bare minimum. Henrik really only had to make about 2 good saves today, on his way to his second 1 goal game and bringing his save percentage up to .950 through these 2 games.
The top line was once again ALL OVER the Lightning, with Scott Gomez playing his second straight superb game. He now has a goal and 2 assists through 2 games, but has been so active it could be a lot more if his teammates could actually finish out there. The speed of this team is downright frightening, and the way in which they play the 5 in the picture game must be having Tom Renney grinning from ear to ear. The defense attack in the offensive zone, the offense defends in the defensive zone. And you have one of the best goalies of this generation between the pipes. Yowza.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still don’t think this team has enough talent to be a truly elite team, but I do believe this is a playoff team we have here, and once we substitute Voros, Dawes, Prucha, Mara, and Kalinin for Sanguinetti, Anisimov, Cherepanov, Byers and Del Zotto, we will be FAR better off. Till then, we are finally sowing the seeds of how this team will be playing in the future. Electric offensively, directing pucks to the net, crashing the net, and skating the other team into the ground. Once the talent level catches up to the work ethic and game plan, this team has juggernaut written all over it.
Other than that, the big story today was the post game comments by Barry Melrose. The mullet absolutely ripped his star players, St. Louis, Lecavalier, etc. In essence he called them lazy, me first players. OUCH. Way to get the players on your side Barry. Don’t get me wrong, I love this kind of an attitude in a coach, but don’t rip your Stanley Cup winning franchise players in the media when you haven’t coached an NHL team to a win in over a decade buddy. He is right that the Rangers did outwork the Tampa Bay team, but it wasn’t by that much. The real reason in the disparity in the offensive chances is because of the way this team is structured. There is no presence on the defensive end, with a team absolutely stacked with offensive talent that has nobody to get them the puck quickly. That is the disparity in the 2 teams. When the Rangers are in their own zone, they transition from defense to offense in the blink of an eye. When the Lightning are in their own zone, they have a hard time defending the Rangers forwards, and when they do get the puck, the defenseman are very slow to transition the puck up the ice. The Lightning are an aberration compared to other teams, I’m not sure the Rangers will be able to manhandle other teams in the offensive zone as easily as we did them on a consistent basis, however we also will not have to be focused on a team that is so sickeningly lethal in the offensive zone either.
Balance is the key, it is something the Rangers have a lot of, albeit not as much talent. It is something the Lightning do not have. Getting rid of Dan Boyle was a mistake imho.
I can’t wait for the home opener on Friday, it’s going to be so fun getting to see a very talented Chicago team against this club. See you all then!