The big fear of putting Richards and Gaborik together is this…the Rangers lose offense from multiple lines and have become extremely top heavy. The Rangers were carried by the top line in each of the past 2 games. Not just carried, they pretty much did everything for the Rangers. The top line was in complete beast mode from the drop of the puck. Generating almost all the offense for the Rangers, not just on the board, but the actual chances for the team.
On the flip side, Artem Anisimov, Derek Stepan, Brandon Dubinsky, etc have pretty much fallen off the face of the planet which is what I have been really worried about happening if the Rangers did stack the top line. This forces the Rangers into a few scenarios. First, they can play that top line 25-27 minutes a night, which could make them tired out by the time the playoffs are on. Or they could try to play the other lines to draws and have the top line outscore the other teams top line. Either option is not really appealing. Basically, the Rangers are going to need to get way more out of their bottom 9 than they have of late. Getting healthy will help, as Ryan Callahan has been sorely missed. His speed, agitation, hitting, and never say die attitude is huge, as long as he has the jump. He didn’t have it when he came back, so hopefully he will wait till he is 100% (or close to it) before jumping back into the lineup. Rangers can’t be shortsighted here. The game against Pittsburgh is important, but the playoffs are moreso. Don’t rush the captain.
Pretty cool that the Rangers were able to win, pretty definitively, against one of the best 2nd half teams in the NHL, without their captain, without 2 of their top 5 defenseman (including their #1 offensive defenseman) and without their all-world goalie.
Speaking of goaltending. Nobody has been harder on Martin Biron than me the past few months. I want to give him some MAJOR kudos for his effort tonight. This is really the first time this calendar year where I can say, definitively, Biron outplayed the opposing goalie. He was square, and more than that, he felt comfortable out there. I think Biron is the kind of goalie where, you can almost sense how comfortable he is in net just by watching him play. From the moment the puck drop, I felt like the guy had “it”. He was focused, he was sharp, and he was playing his angles all right. None of the goals were his fault, and he made some big stops when the team needed him to make them. The Rangers did not win in spite of Martin Biron tonight, they won in large part thanks to Martin Biron. Kudos.