Fact: In their previous 3 matchups, the Rangers managed only 4 goals against the rival Islanders. They lost all 3 games.
Fact: In their two meetings this season. the Rangers got 1 goals against Martin Gerber and the Ottawa Senators. They lost both.
Fact: The Rangers offense was last in the league in goals scored. There were more than a few rumblings about the sleeping New York superstars.
If anything says the monster has awoken, it has got to be scoring 9 goals in 2 games against the two teams that have stifled the Rangers offense this season. It has got to be the combined 6 goals by Jagr, Drury, Shanahan and Gomez in that span.
If anything says "Look out NHL!" it is the sound beating of the Eastern Conference's best team, by a score of 5-2 no less.
What the Rangers have shown in those two games, as little time as that may be, has been their ability to attack with the lead. To maintain the lead by scoring, not by sitting back.
Indeed the Rangers have not been behind in the last 120:00 minutes of hockey, and have desrved their leads as well. The have shot the puck more, they have battled in the corners and they have crashed the net. And that, combined with the stellar play of Henrik Lundqvist who stopped 53 shots in those games, has led to success.
Tonight, the Rangers came out strong early against the Sens and began scoring as soon as they hit the ice. First it was Daniel Girardi who's slap shot from the top of the right circle found the net. The key on that goal was Scott Gomez and Marcel hossa standing in front and obstructing Martin Gerber's view of the puck.
With Avery missing from the lineup with an injured hand, the Rangers have found an equally successful partner for Gomez and Shanahan in Marcel Hossa. His work along the boards allowed Scott Gomez to control the puck behind the net and send it in front to Shanahan. Brendan was standing in "The Shanny Zone" between the two circles and his famous one timer hit iron and net for the second goal of the night.
Then Jagr decided it was time to join the party and collected the puck along the right boards. He then used "The Jagr Move" as he moved to the center of the ice, protected the puck with his body and wristed it past Gerber for a PP goal and a 3 goal lead.
In that period, Martin Gerber allowed 3 goals on 12 shots and was replaced by Ray Emery in the 2nd. This was no problem for the Rangers who added to their lead again. This time, it was Scott Gomez who shot from the point on a Rangers PP and Shanahan redirected the puck past Gerber for a 4-0 lead.
Ottawa was not going to lay down and answered with two of their own. The first was off a good shot from Joe Corvo who converted on an odd man rush to cut the lead to 3.
Then in the third, Dany Heatley redirected a pass from Jason Spezza past a surprised Lundqvist.
But that was all the Sens could muster as Blair Betts converted on an empty net goal to give the Rangers another two points and another strong offensive performance.
Lundqvist was stellar in net again, turning away 31 of 33 shots he faced. But the story tonight was the offense. Especially Jagr and Shahanan. They both scored from their comfort zones playing their style of hockey and utilizing their talents to the best of their abilities. That is the way the Rangers have to play and that is the way they did.
With that win, the standings look quite good in the East. Take a look:
Ottawa: 25 gms 34 pts
Rangers: 26 gms 32 pts
Carolina: 26 gms 31 pts
Flyers: 24 gms 30 pts
Montreal 25 gms 29 pts
Things are certainly looking up for the Broadway Blueshirts. Next up is the high scoring Carolina Hurricanes on Monday at the Garden. I hope to get in another blog as soon as I can. I dont know when that will be but I thank the hockey gods for smiling on me and allowing me to get this one out.
Until next time,