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There is a cliche that’s thrown around more than Aaron Voros when he attempts to fight. It’s that “good teams win games like this” or some sort of derivation meaning basically the same thing. But, if you really think about it, if good teams really do win games like that, then the New York Rangers from last season must have been one of the greatest teams ever assembled, because really, 80% of their wins were basically like this. The formula was repeated to the point of maddening predictability last year. Play like crap for 2 or 3 periods. Let Henrik Lundqvist make some ridiculous jaw dropping saves, and somehow emerge from the contest with 2 points in your pocket and a seriously baffled opposition.

Don’t make any mistakes here, what we saw tonight was frighteningly close to the New York Rangers hockey from last year with basically the same result. The better team last night left without a point to speak of. But, here is where I think that cliche comes from. I think it comes from a place where, the truly good teams win games that are not like this significantly more than they win games that are like this. So far this season, the Rangers have inarguably deserved every point they earned coming into this contest. Considering that every single opposition with the exception of the Leafs were either playoff teams last year, or are currently one of the top 8 teams in their respective conferences (including the Kings), that is nothing to scoff at. The Rangers have beaten some very talented teams, and they have done so convincingly more often than not. So, while I would be a little weary to buy into the “good teams win games like this” mentality, I feel confident in saying that, the Rangers are a good team, whether they win games like these or not. With that said, there is a reason you pay Henrik Lundqvist more than any other goalie in the league (at least the last time I checked), and that is to win you games like this…when the team in front of him just doesn’t have their A game. So perhaps a better cliche should be…teams with good goalies win games like this. Eh, it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Getting back to the game at hand, I felt the Rangers won this game thanks to basically a few simple things, and these things can most certainly carry you through periods of time where you just don’t have your legs (and as someone who does play hockey in a few leagues, let me tell you, I totally understand what it’s like to not have your legs and have to fight through it, it is incredibly difficult to do).

  • The Rangers got elite level goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist was nothing short of spectacular, especially since he was run over for something like the 5th or 6th time in 2 games tonight.
  • The Rangers specialty teams was outstanding. They killed off 6 of 7 penalties that they took, and scored on 2 of the 3 power play chances they got. That is a winning formula.
  • The Rangers have Marian Gaborik. There are probably only 3 players in the world that could have scored that goal the way it went down. Corralling the puck in, take a quick peak, and rifle the puck top corner and have it in and out before the goalie even realizes that a shot was taken. Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Marian Gaborik in my opinion are the only players with that kind of a release.
  • So yeah, even when you don’t have it, if you can get those 3 things listed above, you will win these games with a fair bit of consistency. The key here though is to not play games like this to begin with. Part of that is the schedule, part of that is not having your legs. Let’s see how the Rangers come out against what will be undoubtedly one extremely hungry, albeit a pathetically unskilled Toronto Maple Leaf team.

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