Fourteen goals in two games? Who are these imposters? Chris Higgins scored. Wade Redden fought. Enver Lisin scored. Brandon Dubinsky fought. Aaron Voros scored. Aaron Voros fought. Scoring and fighting, fighting and scoring - that’s the way hockey was meant to be played. There were so many goals by the Rangers on Sunday and Tuesday, it was like the 1980s broke out in Madison Square Garden. When I switched the channel after the games, I expected to see episodes of Alf or Night Court playing. Rex Ryan is so confident and motivational, he even has the Rangers believing in themselves.
It’s highly doubtful the Rangers will score 14 goals in their next two games as well (though the 6-2 showing against Montreal wasn’t expected, and the 8-2 final last night was even more of a surprise). But what the Blueshirts can control is how they play. They’ve been swarming to the net, aggressively forechecking with two forwards, playing responsible D, hitting and fighting, and scoring down-and-dirty goals. These should all be consistent aspects to their game. They have one natural goal-scorer on their roster, so old-fashioned hard work around the net, digging for rebounds and crashing the crease should be a given for this team.
The 0-0 classic vs. the Devils last week (ok, the final was 1-0) was nice and all, but the Rangers followed that up with two snoozers. And now two explosions of toughness and scoring. It looks like what we have here is a failure of consistency. It’s easy to say this after the last two games, but John Tortorella needs to keep his lines together for a while so the team can find a groove. Keep Dubinsky on the first line with Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal. And that new fourth line of Voros, Brian Boyle and Sean Avery is the Tasmanian Devil on ice.
If the Rangers can bottle up the last two games (sure, Tampa Bay and Montreal aren’t elite teams, but let’s not nitpick here), even if they only score two, three, four goals a game, and continue to play with that combination of intensity, toughness and smarts, they may finally find some consistency. And the happiest person in the world will be Henrik Lundqvist.