New York Rangers Winning Ugly but Winning Nonetheless

Joseph Browne@jbrownesportsNYCorrespondent IIOctober 21, 2011

VANCOUVER, CANADA - OCTOBER 18: Goalie Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers is congratulated by teammate Tim Erixon #53 after shutting out the Vancouver Canucks during NHL action on October 18, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

If you'd been following the Rangers for the past few weeks, you'd know that up until around Monday or so of this week there was very little for the typical Rangers' fan to cheer about. The team played the tail end of its' preseason schedule and its' first two games of the season essentially on another planet—at least in terms of the average fan's ability to actually see the games without resorting to hacking a defense satellite.

Additionally, when highlights of the games were made available—the video having been transported via a caravan featuring donkeys and various other pack animals—astute fans realized fairly early in the process of viewing things that there was very little the Ranger's did in those games that could be identified as interesting, entertaining, or even mildly titillating.

For the sake of full-disclosure, we're not certain that the use of the word titillating was necessary. However, we can say for certain that we've been looking for an opportunity to use it, despite the fact that we've really never had a good reason for that being the case.

Getting back to the Rangers for a moment, and the underwhelming nature of the start to their season, it would have been very easy to presume that the remainder of their Western Canadian road trip would be rather less than successful. After all, they hadn't won in Vancouver since the Great Depression (or around that time, roughly) and Calgary hadn't been all that welcoming since 2002—the last year the team had won a game there.

Something strange happened in Vancouver, however, something very strange indeed if you've watched the Rangers for any number of years. The Rangers, against seemingly insurmountable odds, appeared to ignore an organizational tendency to keep slumps alive by opening up the third period with confidence and determination. This was a clear signal to opponents going forward that this Ranger's team might be different, that they might be special.

Mike Rupp (right) celebrates huge goal in Vancouver win
Mike Rupp (right) celebrates huge goal in Vancouver winRich Lam/Getty Images

 

In that third period in Vancouver, the Rangers put four pucks past an apparently stunned Roberto Luongo. While Luongo was not exactly sharp, the reality is that the Rangers, victimized by lopsided officiating all night, overcame all obstacles and just kept coming. They were, in a phrase, not to be denied.

On Thursday night in Calgary, the Rangers took another strong step towards consistency, playing well despite once again being victimized by an officiating crew that might as well have been wearing home jerseys.

There were some significant lapses in judgment by several of the younger defensemen, and the Anisimov-Dubinsky-Callahan line is still out of sync, but for a road game in October, in very hostile territory no less, the team can feel very good about what it accomplished with its 3-2 overtime victory.

Its a long season, of course, and the Rangers have yet to understand the full effects of what the loss of the concussed Marc Staal might mean long term. The team, however, could easily be winless heading into its matchup with Edmonton on Saturday night.

For two games, though, they learned how to win ugly, how to come together and grind out four points that could have very easily been squandered now and regretted later. Its just four points out of the 95-100 they'll need to make the playoffs, but it's four points they may never forget.

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