Anybody who wants the New York Rangers to win games and go far in the playoffs this year will have to watch the Rangers play more games like their 2-1 opening-night win against the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday.
The Rangers' victory had everything that fans should expect to see from this team on each end of the ice.
Offensively, the Rangers put great pressure on Tampa Bay and goalie Mike Smith. The Rangers recorded 41 shots, yet were only able to put two behind the Lightning goalie.
More of the same from last year? Yes. However, the Rangers had great puck movement from the top two lines, and Lauri Korpikoski's line was great in providing energy.
The power play got shots to the net, and had many scoring chances, despite only scoring once (Brandon Dubinsky's winner) in seven chances. Until the Rangers can consistently, if they can, score three or four goals, expect to see more of the same.
Defensively, the Rangers played the kind of game that Tom Renney envisioned before the start of the season. With the Rangers "collapsing" into the defensive zone, it was very rare that Tampa Bay was able to get quality chances on net, especially in the second period, when Henrik Lundqvist only faced three shots.
In the net, the Rangers couldn't have asked any more of Lundqvist. Well, maybe stop Martin St. Louis' wrist shot in the third. The Rangers goaltender was spectacular at times, but, more importantly, he was at his best when the Rangers needed him to be, both early in the first period and late in the third period. And if your goalie finishes with a 1.00 GAA and a .952 SV percentage, wouldn't you say that is pretty good?
If they can keep playing like this, along with finishing more of their scoring chances, the Rangers, just maybe, can exceed everyone's expectations. And maybe fans won't mind watching a low-scoring game if they know the Rangers can get two points out of it.
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