Want to know why I loved the way this game turned out tonight? Because the best players on the ice were not Gaborik, Nash or Richards. Those guys, honestly, didn’t play all that great. Nash had some good moments, but Gabby and Richards were awfully quiet except for 1 or 2 chances here and there.
No, this game was all about the other guys. The low salary guys. Hagelin, Powe, Halpern, Asham, Pyatt…those guys had some really excellent minutes out there. The 4th line in particular had several shifts where they just owned the play. Chipping in a goal by Asham was great, and well deserved, but that trio did a phenomenal job of playing in the Tampa zone, and when they were trapped, they kept things simple and smart. Losing Rupp helps a TON in terms of our team speed and ability to roll 4 lines. Powe looks like he’s going to be a solid addition to this team, and you have to wonder, barring injury, how is Brian Boyle going to find his way back into this lineup.
I really wanted to talk about Taylor Pyatt though. This guy, though he doesn’t put up a ton of points, does such a great job of keeping the play going. He’s a monster on the boards, reads the play so well, plays responsibly, and does so many little things that, if you weren’t following him, you wouldn’t really notice it. He’s so often in the perfect place for an outlet pass if the D gets into trouble, or just simple dump ins when the guys need to change instead of trying to keep a rush going. Just a smart player, whose game I really love. I know I’ll take a lot of heat for this, but he reminds me a little of Marcel Hossa in his ability to play the boards. When Hossa was here, and he wanted that puck on the boards, nobody stood a chance of getting it from him, Pyatt is a lot like that.
I really love the way 3 of our lines played tonight. The sole exception being…well, actually, Pyatts line. It wasn’t Pyatts fault though, his 2 linemates, Gaborik & Richards had really shitty games. Richards has looked off all season. He’s made some good plays here and there, but by and large he’s been a complete non factor. Time to get your head outta your ass Richie and start making some plays. I get that he’s putting up points, but he seems to be ancillary to the play…he’s there, he’s touching the puck, but he isn’t doing shit to make the actual play happen.
Isn’t it nice though? Power Play still doesn’t score…Richards & Gaborik play like crap, and the Rangers still are able to handily win a game. Having depth helps. You can thank Miller & Powe for that…they’ve turned this once 1 line team into a solid 4 line team. Keep it going boys.