The New York Rangers made it very interesting, but pulled out their third straight win in Boston last night. The Rangers blew a three goal lead in the third period but salvaged the win in the shootout. After goals by Hagelin, Stepan and Stralman the Rangers had all the momentum going into the third period, but gave up two goals in the final minute of the game to send the game to overtime.
Henrik Lundqvist was stellar in net the entire game, and it really wasn’t on him that Boston was able to tie the game; it was more about the Rangers not being able to get the puck out of their own zone. The Rangers are now five points behind the Devils who are 1st in the conference with 19 points, and they are currently in the 8th spot in a very tight conference.
We are now 12 games into the season and the Rangers are starting to look like the team that finished 1st in the Eastern Conference last season. They are starting to show the toughness and grit that was missing through the first 9 games, but of course it hasn’t come easy. Brian Boyle has been a healthy scratch for 3 straight games now, and as I said in my last post, that was necessary at this point. Since he sustained a concussion during the playoffs last year, his game has not been the same. His benching has opened up a spot for rookie JT Miller who scored the first 2 goals of his young career against the Islander last Thursday, and who has been very noticeable on the ice on a line with Captain Ryan Callahan and fellow rookie Chris Kreider.
Carl Hagelin has found his game, finally. After being called out by Coach Tortorella after taking a too many men on the ice penalty 2 weeks ago, Hagelin has been clearly playing much better, leading to 3 goals in his last 2 games. Also very noticeable has been the play of Rick Nash, last night he made a pass from his butt that lead to the Hagelin goal, and he scored a goal in the shootout on what was one of the NASTIEST moves I have seen in a long time and he faked Tukka Rask right out of his skates. It’s not just his play last night he is starting to look more comfortable in his Rangers sweater. He and Gaborik are not on the ice as much together which seems to be making Nash feel more comfortable shooting the puck more. His slap shot in Thursday’s game against the Islanders was deflected in off of Carl Hagelin which opened up the scoring 30 seconds into that game and he also had the 5th and final goal that game. With Nash starting to play like Nash, that is a great sign of things to come for the Rangers.
With the Rangers playing well and starting to hit their stride you wonder if Brian Boyle, who yesterday admitted that he is pissed off, will be able to get back in the lineup. The only player I could see him replacing could be new comer Jeff Halpern who has played solid but has not really stood out to this point. Guys like Asham, who scored his 1st goal as a Ranger in Saturday night’s win over Tampa, and the strong play of Taylor Pyatt and Darroll Powe, it would make sense to sit down Halpern if Tortorella wants to let Boyle back in the lineup. Keep this in mind, Tortorella knows how to get to his players and get results just look at Hagelin, so maybe this benching will light the fire under Boyle that has been missing so far this year. If not its going to be very interesting to see what happens with Boyle and his future with this Ranger team.
By Joe Clewell
Follow Joe on twitter @BlueShirts10