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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Win Against the Worst or Start of Something Good?

The Rangers halted their free fall in the East tonight, even if only for a moment, by beating the Islanders 3-1. This is the fourth victory against the Fighting Ricky 5 Holes this year with still one to play.

The first goal was scored by Nigel Dawes off of some great rotational passing in the Isles zone. Prucha, Drury, and Dawes continued with a rotating triangle of sorts behind the net, in the corner, and in the circle. After 4-5 passes, Drury hits Dawes cutting through the cirlce and beats Danis top shelf.

A few minutes later the Isles tied the game up on a Mark Streit goal where he crept in the back door that Rozsival left unlocked. If you watch the replay, you can actually see Rozsival look at Mark Staal who is covering the man in front, stop, look around, and watch the puck fly by him to Streit. The first period ended tied 1-1.

Midway through the 2nd, Richard Park plows into Hank and give the Rangers a power play. Up until this point, the Rangers were 1-36 on the PP since the break. Then Scott Gomez did something he never does on the man advantage. He took the puck out of his own zone, carried it across the blue line, and threw a shot on net. Then Yan Danis did the rest of the work by letting it hit him in the leg and trickle through the wickets.

Was it a good shot? No. Was it prudent to throw it on net with no one in front? Probably not. Was it a lucky bounce? Absolutely. And it may have been the lucky bounce the Rangers needed to get them back on track. After the go ahead goal, Lundqvist put the team on his shoulders and carried them to a much needed two points with 25 saves. Sjostrom added an empty netter to ice it away, and Drury ended the night with three assists.

I will say this. The game tonight was not a definitive stop to the slide. It merely was a stay of execution for Renney and for the Rangers. On Saturday the Rangers get the Sabres up in Buffalo. This game could help the Rangers put a little distance between them and last place and put them on a roll heading into what may be their friendliest scheduling stretch of the 2nd half with two vs Toronto, then Florida, the Avs, and the Isles again. I am not calling Saturday a must win, but a "Please for the love of God let this be the one" win. If the Rangers can take Saturday's game, they can be set up quite nicely to rattle off a long point streak and get back into a decent playoff seed.

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