Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Step In A Direction. . .

I'm not going to necessarily say it was the "right" direction, but it was a step nonetheless.
Is having Scott Gomez in the lineup a mental thing? Is he like their lucky rabbit's foot or something? Because credit the guy for having a monster night on faceoffs (19-4) and actually looking VERY speedy, especially in light of his being off for the last five games with a stress fracture. But ironically, it was not really his line - Callahan, Drury, and himself - who played the best for the Rangers on the night.

It was actually other lines stepping up. Dubinsky/Naslund/Zherdev looked sharp and Zherdev had a great night, getting primary assists on the first three Rangers goals. Dubinsky finally looked back in stride, after appearing lost in the last bunch of games. A loud shot rung off the post behind Ilya Bryzgalov in the first by Dubinsky, but he would later bury a shot for his first goal since October 24th in Columbus. Big time to step up. Even if the kid is not a fighter. In case there was any doubt, he has not much improved since Luke Richardson knocked him out last season.

And Betts - yes Blair Betts - had a nice looking goal. I had to look down, look at the replay, before saying, Betts? Seriously? But, it was a nice one. And it helped the Rangers re-gain the momentum in the game.

Overall, though, without trying to burst bubbles, it has to be taken into consideration that this victory was against a Phoenix team, who was ranked 14th in the West coming into last night.

Does that mean it doesn't count? No. It counts and because it was a "much needed" win, it counts for more than just two points. But the point remains, I'm not sure they'd have been able to get away with some of their early (and characteristically) sloppy play in the first, if they were playing a stronger team.

It should also be noted that specialty teams were not really a factor last night, but not even for the reason you may think. Phoenix took only 2 minor penalties. Therefore, with Girardi's powerplay goal, the Rangers were 1-2 on the PP. 50%. Amazing.

Almost more importantly, the Rangers did not take stupid penalties. In fact, the Rangers took only one minor all night. When was the last time that happened? Anyone?

Now, the question for this Thanksgiving week is - will the Rangers be able to build on this and beat the very beatable Tampa Bay (1) and Florida (2) teams they face in their next three games? I sure hope so. But, at the same time, the Rangers sometimes confuse trips to Florida for early summer vacations. Let's hope that's not the case when the Rangers face Tampa Bay tomorrow at 7:30. I'm probably missing the game live, but I'll catch up at some point. Enjoy!

p.s. was that Sweet Caroline I heard playing in the Garden? Hasn't that been on a hiatus, win or lose? I wonder why it came back, but I wonder even more why it went away in the first place.

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