Streak Broken: 5 Reasons That Rangers Defeated the Penguins
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The New York Rangers finally get win across after dropping their last six games, beating the Penguins 5-3. Their victory comes at a crucial point; now only two points ahead of the eighth-place Hurricanes, the every game the Rangers play is critical for their playoff hopes, and they needed to break this losing streak if they had any hope of making the playoffs.
This victory showed a Ranger team that we haven't seen since before everybody got injured. They scored, they played good defense and there was good communication from everyone; all around a very solid game. Here are a few key reasons why the Rangers pulled of the victory today.
5. Henrik Lundqvist
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He may have given up three goals today, but Lundqvist had a solid game between the pipes. After giving up two goals on four shots, Lundqvist settled down and stopped all but one shot for the rest of the game.
For the last few games, Lundqvist was not playing up to his potential, letting a lot of soft goals go through that he usually would save with ease. Today it started off the same way, but Lundqvist settled down and played very well. This is a good sign because if the Rangers have any hopes of making the playoffs, No. 30 has to be playing exceptionally well between the pipes.
4. Ryan Callahan
Callahan celebrating one of two powerplay goals today
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He's back. Coming back from a hand injury has been a slow go for Ryan Callahan; he just did not have the intensity that he had before he got injured.
But today, we saw the old Callahan back and better than ever. Notching two crucial power-play goals, Callahan looked to be on the top of his game and fully recovered from his injury.
Another stand out in Callahan's game today was his job on the penalty kill. Going down to block shots and playing hard defense on the power-play men of the Penguins, Callahan was a major part in stopping one of the better power plays in the league, even without Crosby and Malkin.
3. The Penalty Kill and Marc Staal
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The Rangers were strong on the penalty kill today, stopping the Penguins four out of five times, but what was really incredible was the two double minors that the Rangers did not allow the Penguins to score on.
Everything seemed to be going wrong for the Rangers since the All-Star break; even the penalty kill was starting to falter. Today, the penalty killers of the Rangers played exceptionally well against the Penguins, particularly Marc Staal.
Staal covered his brother, Penguins center Jordan Staal, very well and prevented him from making any moves the entire game. On the power play, Staal blocked nearly every shot that went his way and played extra long shifts during the double minor penalties and kept the puck away from the net as much as possible.
A solid performance by all the penalty killers was a major reason the Rangers won the game today.
2. The Power Play
Rangers Power Play unit celebrating one of three goals
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The power play has been the Achilles' heel of the Rangers all season long. They never seem to be able to string together anything during power plays and just end up passing the puck around the net and never actually taking a shot.
Well today was much different; much in part to Ryan Callahan, the Rangers went three for six on the power play today, having more power-play goals in today's game alone than in the last three combined. They did not pass continuously like they usually do, but they brought pressure to the front of the net, passed effectively and shot wisely, resulting in goals.
The power play is a key part to any hockey team's game; hopefully, the Rangers finally pieced together lines that understand that shooting gets you goals on the power play, not blue line passing.
Having such an effective power play today was a good sign for the Rangers looking to try and make the playoffs; if they can score when the other team is a man short, something they have not done well all season, it will make it much easier for them to win a few games in a row.
1. The Timeout
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But what was the most influential thing that happened during today's game? What allowed the Rangers to come back from 2-0 down and win the game 5-3? What was it that gave them life? It was coach John Tortorella's timeout.
After Lundqvist gave up the second goal early in the first period, Coach Tortorella decided it would be a good time to take a timeout and let the Rangers regroup.
Instead of yelling at them, like the hot-headed coach he is, he calmly talked to them, in the hopes that he could get the message across that they needed to play better.
Well, the Rangers responded; they scored five unanswered goals until a goal in the middle of the third period by the Penguins made it 5-3, but the damage was done.
Tortorella's clutch call allowed the Rangers to check themselves, and it sparked a fire underneath them that allowed them to come back and win the game.
Hopefully Tortorella's talk didn't just wake the Rangers up for this game, but for the rest of the season; the Rangers see themselves fighting for a playoff position at the end of the season yet again. If they want to have any chance of making it, they are going to need to play like they did today: The power play and penalty kill need to be stellar, Lundqvuist need to be on the top of his game and leaders like Callahan and Staal come up in big situations. If they can do that, I see a playoff run for the Rangers this season.