For all the praise being heaped on fill ins like Bickel, Erixon, and Stralman. For all the kudos being thrown at the Rangers and what a great job they do backchecking, blocking shots, getting in passing lanes, etc. The cold hard truth is this. This team will only go as far as Henrik Lundqvist will take them. Tonight, he took them to a 4-1 win that is a very, very deceiving score. Yes, it’s true the Rangers hit 4 posts (1 a few moments before a goal was eventually scored anyway), in addition to putting 3 goals past Uncle Daddy (and an empty netter). But the Rangers were outshot 31-21, and were probably outchanced by a 2-1 margin. Henrik Lundqvist was completely on top of his game. Moving side to side at blazing fast speeds, showcasing picture perfect form, being square to the shooter at all times, and forcing the opposition to be too fine with their shots, therefore making them shoot wide. He was a monster. Brodeur was a slug. Slow, predictable, and completely deserving of the loss he took. The Rangers didn’t beat the Devils. Henrik Lundqvist beat Martin Brodeur, end of story.
Give lots of credit to Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto, and of course Dan Girardi. The remaining Rangers regular defenseman played HUGE minutes and played outstanding. Michael Del Zotto was again a +2, and is a whopping +17 out there, nearly double the next closest Rangers player. This is not by accident. This is a combination of MDZ being matched up against lesser opposition, combined with his ability to transition the puck up the ice quickly and effectively, allowing the Rangers to maintain more offensive zone time. Ryan McDonagh is emerging into a true blue #1 defenseman. This is with the Rangers already having 2 # 1 defensemen in Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. Thanks for that trade Montreal, what the hell were you guys thinking.
I think it’s also obvious that Carl Hagelin has secured himself a spot for the rest of the season. The speedy Swede is making an enormous impact on the Rangers, and once Chris Kreider makes his way to the Rangers you could see the Rangers being a lethal speed team.
Brandon Dubinsky on the other hand continues to drive Ranger fans mad. Still only 1 goal on the season, and you see his offensive game regressing badly. The kid is flat out afraid to shoot. He just has zero confidence. I liked what Torts did out there in putting him on with the Devils net empty, but Dubi never got a chance to finish. The kid really needs to pick up his game. I don’t think he’s expendable, exactly, but he certainly isn’t untradeable with this seasons performance…Derek Stepan on the other hand, well, he’s getting close to being in the untradeable department, and that is saying something. Wow, what a steal this kid has been.
OK, that’s all for now. Just a heads up though. I will be leaving Friday morning for Indiana to spend the holidays with my fiancee’s family. I won’t be back till next Wednesday, meaning I will miss quite a few games. I do plan on recording and watching them, but I won’t do writeups on them since it will be so far after the fact.