Yes, the Rangers can play well - when they choose to. Tom Renney sat them down and gave them a speech about applying themselves, working hard, and not ruining the family name or they won’t get into college and will end up wasting their lives.Then he gave them a smack at the back of their heads and called them an idiot.
Okay, that’s what my father said to me, but it’s relevant to the Rangers as well. And they rebounded from their three-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Islanders last night.
How many times have we said this: If the Rangers skate hard, forecheck, drive to the net, dump the puck in, and play a simple game, they’ll win. And that’s what they did against the Isles. They were actually physical and hit people after all.
Nigel Dawes clocked Kyle Okposo, and Ryan Callahan absolutely leveled Trent Hunter, who crashed into an open door (and thankfully seems to be oky). Dawes even fought Mike Comrie, while Colton Orr took on Mitch Fritz. The Blueshirts buzzed around the net, won faceoffs, and the game was actually fun to watch.
They outshot (37-24) and pretty much dominated the feisty Fishsticks, but it took until the third period, when the game turned into the 1980s, for the Rangers to prevail (I think Pierre Larouche scored the winning goal).
The first goal for the Rangers was a thing of beauty. They controlled the puck on a delayed penalty for about a day and a half, and Scott Gomez slammed the puck home after some tic-tac-toe passing by Nikolai Zherdev and Brandon Dubinsky.
Gomez also had an assist and played much better than Saturday’s game against New Jersey (and would be impossible not to). Petr Prucha received a hero’s welcome, returning to the lineup after sitting out for eight games with what doctor’s are calling ‘Renney’s Complaint’ (Aaron Voros was the odd man out this time).
He scored a goal, hustled, made plays, hit people - who needs somebody like that? He needs to be taught a lesson, with another month’s worth of healthy scratches.
Dawes had another quality game and Markus Naslund notched his team-leading 14th goal. Michal Rozsival threw the puck to the net, got a few lucky bounces, and scored. Ryan Callahan did what Ryan Callahan does, while Dubinsky had a couple of assists and clicked with Prucha and Zherdev. It wouldn’t be a Rangers game without Renney switching his lines (Lauri Korpikoski was moved up with Gomez and Naslund).
Plus it wouldn’t be a Rangers game without Dmitri Kalinin making a boneheaded play - giving the puck right to Hunter as he hit Kalinin from behind, which resulted in the first Islanders goal. The power play was 0-5, and Henrik Lundqvist let in four goals, but you can’t have everything.
Can the Rangers consistently work hard and play a north/south game? That’s the question. The answer should be ‘yes,’ but things with this version of the Blueshirts are never that easy.
Colton Orr: 8
Aaron Voros: 7
Brandon Dubinsky: 3
Paul Mara: 3
Ryan Callahan: 2
Nigel Dawes: 1
Dan Girardi: 1
Petr Prucha: 1
Marc Staal: 1
Nikolai Zherdev: 1