The New York Rangers played another complete game and bested the New Jersey Devils by a score of 2-1. Right now, the team concept trumps all on Broadway.
The New York Rangers are quietly stringing some wins together which started with that huge 4-2 comeback win against the Minnesota Wild.
This time it was the New Jersey Devils who fell victim to the New York Rangers thanks to a strong 59 minute effort by the Blueshirts.
And it would have been 60 minutes if it weren’t for that boneheaded play that Keith Yandle made with 2:23 left in the game.
Henrik Lundqvist would most likely have walked away with a well deserved shutout if Yandle didn’t force a lazy and extremely dangerous pass along the blue line to give Travis Zajac a breakaway (and eventually a goal).
Having said that, the Rangers fore check is much stronger (outside of the second period verses Philadelphia) when all five players are involved with the offense and this was on full display last night. The Rangers are not talented enough to have just one or two players control the play.
The way the defense has been moving the puck at the blue line (minus the Yandle play) has really helped the forwards. The quick puck movement forced the Devils to challenge the Ranger’s defense which opened up the passing/shooting lanes.
So why are the Rangers playing with more of a team concept now?
Last season the Rangers started playing their best hockey when Henrik Lundqvist went down with a neck injury. With Cam Talbot in net, the team was forced to play a smarter game to protect the backup net minder.
If it takes a couple injuries for this team to figure out how to play together, then so be it.
The only concern then becomes if McDonagh and Nash are out for extended periods of time. That would obviously be bad come mid-April.
Nash’s injury is concerning too, especially if it is not just a bone bruise.
Last baseball season, New York Yankee’s first baseman Mark Teixeira was initially diagnosed with a bone bruise that was not discovered to be a fracture until weeks later. Keep your fingers crossed folks.
Henrik Lundqvist looked really comfortable last night. He kept his game simple, didn’t handle the puck (thank you), and made saves when his team needed them.
So maybe it’s time for me to admit that I was wrong about Kevin Klein. I initially said that the reliable defenseman should sit to let his broken thumb heal.
But Klein’s shot looked just fine last night when he scored the game’s first goal. The puck eventually found Klein’s stick after some nifty passing by the Rangers.
While Klein finished the play, most of the credit needs to go to Mats Zuccarello who showed some serious hustle/battle level to get to the puck.
J.T. Miller is putting on a clinic right now.
The best part of his goal was that it was nothing special. Miller found some space, set up some Devils players as screens, and fired the puck to the net.
Derick Brassard would have 30 goals right now if he shot the puck as much as Miller has lately.
Wednesday’s “Rivalry” game will be a decent measuring stick for the Rangers. Right now the Blueshirts are winning games that they should be winning, which is more than we could say a couple months ago.
The teams they have been beating haven’t exactly but the NHL’s strongest teams, however. But that is about to change.