I am so beyond exhausted right now, so I can’t even imagine how the players actually feel. The Rangers tonight won one of the greatest games I have ever witnessed in my life. You want physicality? It had it. You want phenomenal goaltending? It had it. You want blood, guts, and laying everything out there on the ice? It had it.
No goats tonight, only heroes.
So let’s talk about the obvious person. Marian Gaborik. I’ve been a staunch defender of Gabbys since we signed him. I thought he’s played really hard in the playoffs thus far, but tonight, during regulation, I thought he looked completely lost at times. Just not “on it”. But, as the game went deeper, Gabby seemed to snap out of it and turned into a dominating force out there. Set up Mike Rupp for what should have been the game winner. Hit a post on what should have been a game winner, and then actually did win the game on a beautiful pass from Brad Richards to end the marathon affair. I hope this is the start of something big for Gabby, who hasn’t had the kind of statistical output you’d like to see from your superstar winger, but has tried awfully hard to be a difference maker. Hell, even on the goal against, he was back in perfect defensive position on a pinch. Right now you have 2 goals and 5 assists from gabby in 10 games. He can be better statistically, you can hope that this let’s him get the rifle loaded a little more often instead of trying to overpass, on the flip side, you could also say it’s now a goal and 3 assists in his last 3 games, so he’s been heating up the entire series.
Brad Richards had a wonderful game himself, though he did take another bad penalty that almost cost the team when they were up a man. Richards was able to set up the winning goal, but the real brilliance of the play happened a little earlier when he was able to regain control of the puck when he temporarily lost it, allowing him to attempt a shot, and set the sequence of events up. Great job by Richards, he’s certainly elevated his play in the playoffs.
Henrik Lundqvist was also brilliant as always. When you are as amazing a goalie as Henrik is, you’ll always find something people want to nitpick about his game. Oh, he can’t stop pucks up on the glove side. Oh, he can’t win in the playoffs. Oh, he can’t win overtime games. Blah blah blah. It’s all ridiculous of course, but whatever, let people say the stupid crap that they do. Those of us who watch Henrik night in and night out know that rarely is it his fault that this team loses a game, particularly in overtime. With that said, Henrik was magnificent tonight, stopping 45 of 46 shots, including several odd man rushes that had to have coach Tortorella pulling his hair out.
Finally, Ryan McDonagh. The kid that we got for the soon to be ex-Montreal Canadien, played almost almost 50% of the game tonight. A game that went into triple overtime. How insane is that? The kid who is playing in his first full NHL season just put up the most minutes by a Ranger defenseman in god know how long (seriously, anyone know the record? Is this it?). All I can say is, thank god the Montreal Canadiens GM was a frikkin moron. McDonagh was all-world tonight, blocking shots, skating back hard to offset the forecheckers, and constantly matched up against the powerful Caps forwards he stood tall. Of course, Girardi, Staal and Del Zotto were also spectacular, playing a tremendous amount of time and getting involved in all facets of the game. Remember folks, McDonagh, Girardi, Staal, and Del Zotto are all under 28 years old. How scary is that?
Well, it’s nearly 4 am, and I’m writing about a game that went to almost the very end of the DVR recording I set up. Time to get my ass into bed. See you all on Saturday!