THE GARDEN, NY – I know I’ve neglected my Yankees in recent columns but there isn’t much I want to talk about concerning the Bombers. They are going to be a very average team this season and I have plenty of time to talk about how average they are going to be. But two months into this shortened NHL season, I’m still excited that there is actually hockey. I really didn’t think it would happen, so it’s like we’re obligated to talk hockey every chance I/we get. In fact, I’m watching it like I may never get the chance to do so again. I’m like a dog; eating everything I can, not knowing when I’ll ever eat again. So, because we see Blueshirts Back in a New York Groove, here’s another Rangers piece. Bite me, Cheesy Bruin.
Things have certainly turned around in the last two weeks. After losing a sh!tty game to the Winnipeg Jets Mk 2 last Tuesday (my first game in attendance this season), the Broadway Blues have rattled off four wins on the trot. They stuffed the Tampa (Bay) Lightning for the third time this season last Thursday and squeaked past the Buffaleaux Sabres (Canadian spelling) on Sunday in a shootout. Tuesday night, they doubled up on the Philthy Philadelphia Phlyers 4-2… Last night they edged an exciting, yet aimless Islanders team in an overtime victory.
The main key to their recent success has been the return of Rick Nash after missing a handful of games with a mysterious and still-undisclosed injury. Nash has bulged the onion bag five times in his four games back. He also scored a critical shootout goal in Sunday’s win over Buffaleaux (Canadian spelling), and all of his 8 goals have come in the 3rd period – which is a Ranger record.
The guy is a special player that skates around defensemen and put good shots on net at will. His puck control is impeccable and, more often than not, good things happen when Nash is on the puck. If Nash can stay healthy, the Rangers will continue their climb. He’s so locked in, he’s also talking reunion tour with Stephen Stills and David Crosby.
But other Rangers have contributed to the surge. Ryan McDonagh’s and Michael Del Zotto’s return to their defensive roles has kept the team in a position to win, giving up fewer than two goals per during le streak. And while Cookie will rightfully tell you how the power play has generally been awful for years, the penalty kill has been impeccable this season.
But all is not glum on the PP. Two power play goals on Sunday (after scumbag Patrick Kaleta laid a scumbag-hit on Brad Richards) turned the Sabres game on its head. And a Callahan power play goal on Tuesday sent the Blueshirts on their way to the victory over Philly. And did we mention that win over the Fishsticks last night? Marian Gaborik even got in on the power play action with the overtime game-winner at Wang’s Mausoleum. This could be as big as Nash’s return to form. The Slovak sharp-shooter has been facing questions about his age. Hopefully, last night will be the start of a good run for Gabby.
So, while things are looking a bit dim in the Bronx, things are looking up for the Rangers faithful.
Next up: Another playoff four-pointer against the Ottawa Senators. The Sens sit in sixth place, two points ahead of 8th place NY. A Ranger win puts them level on points with two games in hand. A loss puts them perilously close to the non-playoff places. It should be a good game at the Garden tonight. Lets Go Rangers!
The Preacher tomorrow.