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This was such a bizarre game tonight, except that, in many ways, it is basically a similar trend to what we have seen all season long. It is similar in that, we once again played like dog crap against a team we should have routed. It took an insane level of goaltending to squeak out a win. And finally our offense was again unable to do anything positive whatsoever. However with all that said, this was still a very strange game.

Why?

Because of how many polar opposites we saw within the game, and also when compared to the previous night. For example against the Ducks we were superb in our own zone, against the Kings, we couldn’t figure out which zone was our own zone. Against the Ducks we limited the quality chances against to maybe 3, against the Kings they had 3 quality chances every 3 minutes. Then there is also the oppositeness within the game. For example, out offense was incapable of doing ANYTHING, the Kings offense was able to do anything it wanted at will. Our defense was unable to do anything positive outside of a one man herculean effort by Marc Staal, the Kings defense was superb in clearing away the slot, and not allowing the Rangers to get to the high quality areas of the ice. Finally the Rangers got fantastic goaltending from Vally, he was basically a brick wall in net, whereas the goaltending of Jason Labarbera might have been the worst display of goaltending I have ever witnessed in my life (and yet we only put up 3 goals against this joke of a goalie).

Like I said, a very bizarre game.

The negatives were so many that you could literally fill an entire newspaper with them, from the coach completely not adapting to a goalie giving up rebound after rebound, to Dimitri Kalinin playing like a guy who would get run out of the Rec league I play in for being so god awful. Since there are so many, why don’t we just skip it and instead focus on the 3 keys to why we won.

3)Marc Staal. My goodness what a performance we saw tonight from the kid. Outside of one misplay where he went for a huge hit (and missed) which led to 2 super high quality scoring chances by the Kings, he was an absolute beast. Going toe to toe with Brown and Kopitar and looking like the dominant defenseman we expected him to be. He was poised with the puck, away from the puck, and he was willing and able to throw some pretty strong and heavy hits. There is a mancrush thread on him over on the HFBoards that I started, feel free to chime in.

2)Stephen Valliquette. Big Vally was superb in net, staying square to the shooters at all times, and never losing position despite frequently losing his stick. He was very strong in net, saving our asses numerous times with very big, point blank saves. Vally was on, and he was a huge reason we won.

1)Jason Labarbera. I swear, either this guy is secretly on the Rangers payroll, or he had money on the Rangers, because there is no other way for me to describe just how bad this guy was. Watching the highlights above does nothing to show you how awful he was. He couldn’t make a single clean save the entire night. Every save (if it didn’t hit the post or went wide) was followed by a large juicy rebound right in the slot areas, unfortunately we just never had guys there to bury home those countless chances.

Next up, the Sharks, Rangers have picked up 4 points on this very difficult trip, I expect them to be utterly embarrassed by the Kings, but even picking up a point would be miraculous and wholly welcome. Cross your fingers, sacrifice a goat, do whatever you have to, because the Rangers are going to need it.


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