1 Total Update since March 22, 2011
about 2 years ago Update 0 comments
Brandon Dubinsky's third-period goal at 7:49 off of a centering feed from Ryan Callahan amid a flurry of bodies in front of the net proved all that the New York Rangers needed to win their fifth straight game and seventh in their past eight games, 1-0, over the Florida Panthers.
The Rangers have also won their fourth in a row on home ice, improving their Madison Square Garden record to 18-16-3. Henrik Lundqvist now has 10 shutouts on the season to lead the NHL, stopping all 22 shots on net.
Don't be worried that not dominating the lowly Panthers on the scoresheet doesn't bode well for their playoff surge. The Panthers have played the Rangers very tough this season, winning the middle two games in the series and bottling up any Rangers offense. The Blueshirts stuck with it tonight, though, despite two-thirds of the game being a snoozefest because the Panthers' continually iced the puck when the Rangers mounted any pressure. There was also only one power play in the entire game, a Rangers man advantage in the first period.
Lately, Tomas Vokoun just seems to play his better games against the Rangers, and tonight was no different. Though he made 32 saves and was sharp in net, the one knock on the Rangers in this game was that they didn't make his job any harder by getting bodies in front of the net. One of their few chances right at the crease was Dubinsky's goal, a hard-working effort from New York's evolving first line, Callahan and Artem Anisimov included. Dubinsky now has 22 goals on the season; each member of this line is riding a four-game point streak -- and Anisimov now has 10 points in his past eight games.
Florida isn't a very strong offensive team, and the Rangers exposed that problem for the Panthers tonight. For the most part, Lundqvist had one of his easiest games in a long time, as the Panthers had very few chances from close range. A last-second attempt with the Vokoun pulled nearly knotted the game at 1 but the side-angle pass and deflection hit the near post.
Chalk this up as a game a playoff-bound team should win, and the Rangers did so tonight. Their recent hot streak has put them -- with 84 points -- just three points behind sixth-place Montreal and three points ahead of eighth-place Buffalo. Rangers face the Senators Thursday night.
about 2 years ago Update 0 comments
It was January the last time that the New York Rangers took on the Florida Panthers.
New York played Florida twice, and lost both of its games in lackluster efforts.
Two months later, the Rangers cannot afford to do that again. The two points sitting on the table tonight are huge, especially when you consider the Rangers position in the standings.
Currently the Rangers are in seventh place, three points clear of Buffalo and six points clear of Carolina. Both the Hurricanes and the Sabres have one game in hand. Looking in the other direction, the Rangers are only five points away from Montreal with the same amount of games played. Just something to keep an eye on as the season draws to a close.
But, as usual, the Rangers can't focus on what's going on around them. They need to ensure that all of their attention is on the team that's right in front of them.
Henrik Lundqvist will be an obvious focal point to the game, especially after his outstanding performance against the Penguins. Lundqvist, who didn't miss a minute after suffering a neck injury against the New York Islanders, will get the nod again tonight.
Is it any surprise that the Rangers four-game winning streak and Marian Gaborik's four game tear are coinciding? It shouldn't be.
The Rangers sniper has four goals and one assist in the past four games. But it's not so much the points he's scoring so much as the presence he's become on the ice. He's dangerous again, and you don't need me to tell you that a dangerous Gaboirk makes the Rangers a munch better team.
Tonight, New York must avoid the trap game of losing to a lesser opponent. The Panthers are 11 points out of a playoff spot and currently reside in 13th place. If the Rangers truly believe they are a playoff team then these are games they need to win.