What stood out for me…more than anything, was how well the Rangers “Big” players played.
By “Big” I mean literally big. Asham, Nash, Pouliot, Boyle, Pyatt, and Staal, all the bigger players, were absolutely terrific. They were able to handle the smashmouth Kings forecheck by absorbing hits to get the pucks out quickly and transition into offense. Pyatt and Boyle in particular really stood out as dominant forces out there tonight. Hats off to those 2 much maligned players.
I know everyone will want to laugh at that horrendous goal that Quick gave up, but let’s be honest here folks, if it wasn’t for Quick, Rangers woulda smoked the Kings. He kept ‘em in it, so I look at that goal more as a gimme for a team that earned more than a 3 spot on the scoreboard.
Brad Richards scored 2 tonight, but he looked both good and terrible at times. Not sure what to think, he had several good chances, scored 2 goals, but was smoked on a breakaway chance on the PP, and was a complete nonfactor along the boards. Very strange, hard to gauge what he did out there.
I’m a little worried about Henrik, in particular the way he’s handling easy shots. Have you noticed how many simple shots hes “fighting off”? Usually he gloves them or directs them into the boards, so far this season, everything has been a lunging save with rebounds left in the slot, or a goal post hit behind him. It seems like a focus thing more than anything. Not sure what’s up with that.
The thing that made me the happiest tonight though, was the Rangers clearing the slot out, and not allowing wide open chances from there other than the goal they gave up. In previous games it was slot chance after slot chance after slot chance…tonight, there couldn’t have been more than 1 or 2 chances from in close, everything else was kept to the outside with the front clear. Kudos to AV, it seems like he saw what we all saw, the slot was not being defended properly.
Great game by the Rangers, really great, but, let’s also mention that the Kings had a horrific game in their own zone. How many unforced turnovers did they have? Yikes.
This is a game to build on. You want to see that forecheck improve even more, and the defensive transition game get better (and it was outstanding tonight). Keep it up boys.