By Dubi Silverstein for Blueshirt Bulletin
Reason No. 37—Why the Power Play Is So Important
It can help bail you out on a night where little else is clicking and the opposition is clocking you. It especially helps when it clicks early, and often (well, two power play goals counts as often in today's NHL).
That gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead that the Kings kept threatening to erase but could never completely overcome. Vinny Prospal scored his 200th career goal on the first advantage, and he got help from replay in getting credit for the second, the Rangers' second five-on-three goal in three tries (and the one failed attempt was just a few seconds long).
So make it 9-for-25 (36 percent) in the past five games. How refreshing!
Reason No. 6—The Rangers Look Like a Seriously Good Team
Six as in six straight wins—all of them accomplished under different circumstances. The latest was one of the classic games that good teams win—one where they were tired and almost wholly outplayed by the speedy Kings, who seem like the real deal despite featuring a roster full of names taken at random from a Moose Jaw phone book—just what the heck is an Edward Purcell, Davis Drewisky and Raitis Ivanans anyway?
But the Rangers had the game breakers in Henrik Lundqvist, the inimitable Marian Gaborik, and Prospal, while the young Kings just could not finish, missing nets and fumbling pucks away.
One Reason Why The Rangers Are Pulling Out These Wins
The Rangers haven't had a player like Gaborik since Jaromir Jagr before his shoulder injury. He slows down to accept an errant pass and remain onside; fires a laser beat to the top corner long side with a rocket of a release, and skates off as if he's done this sort of thing once or twice before.
Points in all seven games as a Ranger, six goals (all in the third period, thank you), and perhaps the most telling stat—he's been on the ice for 16 of the Rangers' 28 goals (only four goals against). He makes everyone else better. Prospal gave Gaborik a lot credit for opening up space for him.
"They pay attention to him," he said. "Who wouldn't?"
Reason No. 1A—The Rangers Are Pulling Out These Wins
The King rules! L.A. may have twenty Kings of their own, but the Rangers have the true King. On a night when the Princess of Sweden was in attendance (the real Princess of Sweden), Lundqvist was first star of the game, making one save after another, starting with a superb glove stab on a gimme in the first period by the aforementioned Purcell.
He was bowled over twice more, once by his own man (and the Rangers continue to fail to respond to that), but Lundqvist just keeps doing the job—with the Kings outshooting the Rangers 10-1 in the third period, he maintained the two-goal lead Gaborik restored by scoring on the only Ranger shot of the period.
More Reasons to Be Cheerful
Prospal's six-game point scoring streak, Ales Kotalik with a five-game point scoring streak, Mike Del Zotto getting back on the board with a pair of assists after his five-game point streak was broken to take the lead among all rookies in scoring with two goals and five assists (good for second among all defenseman), and Marian Gaborik, penalty killer extraordinaire.
Reason for concern: the NYPD has issued a BOLO for the second line—Christopher Higgins's brother, a member of the force, will be on the lookout for his sibling's lost scoring touch (no goals in seven games, and just two assists) and Chris Drury's lost touch for clutch scoring (just one goal and three assists in seven games).
Reason No. 96 Why Wade Redden Should Be Waived
He hasn't even played one hundred games as a Ranger, but we've seen this pattern recur several times already. Redden plays a great game, as he did the other night against lowly Toronto, or he strings together two or three solid performances, as he has in the past few games (never mind that he earned those kudos just for showing up when he's being paid to be a number one D), and just when everyone is ready to declare that the real Wade Redden has finally stood up, he has the gall to play the way he did last night, which, in a word, was awful.
Most awful: an ugly giveaway in his own zone (one of several) with an easy chance to clear while Lundqvist was without his stick.
Most embarrassing: complaining to the linesman after his third lazy icing.
Rare Reason To Applaud The Officials
OK, so much of the above sounds like a broken record. I've spent the past two years hammering home the importance of the power play (to the point where former coach Tom Renney starting yelling at me for doing so).
I've spent the past two weeks writing about Gaborik and Lundqvist, the twin pillars lifting the Rangers to the top of the league, and I've wasted more words than I care to count lamenting the lamentable play of Redden.
But for a change of pace, I will not complain about officials—I will applaud them.
Too often, they wave off goals with the lame excuse that they lost sight of the puck, and refuse to review them on that account. Last night, a referee did the right thing—he lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle, waving off the goal, but he said he would reverse his decision if replay showed the puck he lost sight of was in the net.
And it was. Cue up the goal song.