I cannot, until I see how the Rangers play against Boston on Saturday, be sure whether it was Rangers utterly dominating the Devils last night, or a partial byproduct of the fact that the Devils were without not only their marquee goaltender, but half their team. I'm not sure. Don't get me wrong. After years, like seven or more years, of the Devils stomping all over the Rangers, I am more than ready to admit that the Rangers have the Devils number now. And I love it. Of course I do. But to assume they'd get five goals and look so (again) utterly dominant for the majority of last night's game against say Detroit or Montreal, I am not ready to make that claim.
That being said, it was a good win that showed some things. I'll be more apt to say, wow, okay, great, if on Saturday they are able to do the same against a very good Boston team. [Although if pattern stays the same, it'll be a 2-1, 1-0 game with those boys; unless we want to bring up the St. Patricks Day Massacre of 2007?]
The good things were that playing together Lauri Korpikoski, Dan Fristche, and Nigel Dawes all looked much improved. I've been the one saying that I think Fristche, being a bigger body, will do well if given a chance, especially on a team of mostly smaller people. And add a big guy in Korpikoski, and that's exactly what happened. Am I sure that Dawes and Fritsche would collect two assists every night? No. But they did last night for a reason. Again, to go back a day or two, to my comments, Prucha/Dawes/Drury are too similar and too small of players to be working on one line. But stick a small guy (be it Dawes, be it Prucha, or honestly even Drury) with two bigger guys who can win those battles more cleanly and I think that's why you'll see better results. As evidenced last night.
Now Korpikoski had gone into the lineup to replace Dawes on Monday. Fristche went in to replace Prucha. With Gomez unable to go last night, Dawes was reinserted into the lineup (honestly on some really flakey answer by Renney of how he'd be going back into the lineup anyway because the Rangers shootout didn't look good the other night against Edmonton and how Dawes plays well against the Devils - - all true mind you, but I think Renney has permanently forgotten who scored a ton of shootout goals for the Rangers back in the day and who had one on Brodeur last November 3rd of last season. #25. Look him up). Anyway, all that aside, my question is, so when Gomez, who frankly I'm very glad sat if he wasn't at least 90%, comes back, then who goes out? I'd find it hard to believe Dawes would sit, given Renney's undying faith in him. You're not probably not taking anyone else out. Or you shouldn't be. If Gomez goes back to the Naslund/Callahan line, (and gotta love Ryan Callahan. I keep saying, that guy plays every game every night), Drury presumably will drop down to play with Korpikoski and _____. I would hesitate to want to remove Fritsche from a situation where he looked very comfortable, on a team where they are struggling for size on a nightly basis. But again, I can't imagine Dawes will be pulled for Fritsche to get his own chance to play consistently. It's a shame for him really.
In the other 3rd line roulette/carousel/musical chairs news, yesterday Patrick Rissmiller was sent to Hartford on a conditioning assignment. So he is not subject to waivers, either way. My question. Can Prucha be given the same opportunity if he does not play consistently? What are the parameters for this? I'm sure Petr doesn't want to be playing in Hartford ideally, but, I think since he's the "good soldier" Tom Renney keeps saying he is, he'd at least rather go down and be playing somewhere. I know they need to have one healthy body, for I guess that is all he really appears to be to the team, sitting around, but when Rissmiller comes back up, can Prucha go down? I'm doing some research on this.
And we're going to get me to eat some humble pie here. Wait. Wait for it. Yes, Chris Drury is on a goal scoring streak. Yes I said it. A scoring streak. Goals in two consequtive games. And 5 in his last 4 games. Not bad, honestly. And all kidding aside, I'd be a horrible fan to want the captain of my team to not succeed. So of course, depite kicking, er, gently ribbin him when he was down, I have wanted him to succeed. Again, that $7+ million a year is not going anywhere. Why not have him be the guy getting goals and being, umm, clutch. Which so I heard, he once was. Again, this coming from the girl that was happy to get Drury and nauseated to get Gomez on Free Agent Frenzy Day 2007.
Even if Dubinsky isn't scoring, at least he's sticking up for his team. Again, if there is one major complaint I have about the team - - not including lack of goal scoring, lack of mental toughness, lack of cohesiveness, lack of consistency - - it's lack of personality. And maybe that's not fair. But I think it might be true. I asked my father, who on the team he thought had personality. And he said, besides Orr and Gomez? [For the record, I asked him the other night who was the Rangers most consistent players all year and we agreed on Hank and Callahan]. But really, some of the guys have a little spunk and that's great. But I need some character. And the Rangers have decisively less of it than before. Now, if they are winning, and playing well, I guess they can all be mindless statues and no one will care. But I'd like the whole package. A winning team, with a little heart and character. A little spunk. Dubinsky, has been, and can hopefully get back to, being like that.
Good for Niki Zherdev pocketing two goals. If he can get back on track, I'd feel better about the 2 goal pattern the Rangers had been getting into.
Oh but speaking of 2-goals. Apparently, and thanks to Home Ice XM204 and Hockey This Morning for this - - Hank Lundqvist's streak of 18 games against the Devils where he's given up 2 goals or less, is the second longest streak of its kind in the modern era. The other, Dominik Hasek against Ottawa has gone 23 games. Very interesting stuff.
On a side note, I was not happy with two things yesterday. One, that despite paying for Centre Ice and living in the Rangers home region, I was forced to endure Chico Resch and Doc Emerick on four channels. Sam and Joe were no where to be found. I missed the majority of the 1st period on the phone with DirecTV who told me that either it was blacked out entirely (which is false) or that the Devils, being the home team, had the right to say where and how the game was broadcast. I find that suspect. But I'll check into it, be assured of that.
And secondly, I would have been thrilled if the Rangers won 5-2 against anyone, but I had to feel a little for Kevin Weekes. His team did little to support. And he is a good, good guy. So with that, Marty, please hurry and get well soon. So the Rangers can beat you!