Madison Square Garden, NY – It was the best of games, it was the worst of games. I’m talking of course about the Rangers’ tilt against the Minnesota Wild on Monday night. It was a game that showed a bit of everything that is good, bad, and ugly with hockey. Goals galore in the second and third periods, sloppy play in the first period, major penalties, misconducts, and an epic comeback in what was a bit of a pyrrhic victory for the Blueshirts.
The first period was a rough one to watch. The Rangers couldn’t string two passes together and the Wild weren’t much better. Sensing the crowd becoming frustrated, Chris Kredier decided to channel his inner Charlestown Chief. He tried to knock Jonas Brodin through the boards from behind and earned himself an early shower and the first misconduct of the game for the Rangers. Kreider is still young but he’s not THAT young. He should know better. He’s fast and he’s strong and he’s got a prior record. Kreider has injured a couple of players with his style of play. Hell, the Rangers probably don’t make the Stanley Cup Final last year if Kreider doesn’t put Carey Price out of commission. That Brodin returned to the game later on is probably the only reason that Kreider isn’t facing a suspension. John Moore wasn’t so lucky.
After the Rangers killed of Kreider’s five minute major, the wheels came off a bit. The Blueshirts shipped two quick goals to the Wild and then Moore took his opportunity to get an early shower. He performed his own Hanson Brother routine and unleashed an elbow to the jaw of Erik Haula. Moore did the same thing in the playoffs last season against Dale Weise and earned himself a two game suspension. This time he’ll miss the Rangers’ next five games serving a well earned suspension. The ugly got uglier when the Rangers gave up another goal to go down 3-0 after two brutal periods in which the Blueshirts only managed eight shots on goal.
After some choice words from Alain Vigneault and a thorough bollocking from Henrik Lundqvist during the second intermission, the Rangers came out a different team for the third period. Four goals in the first eight minutes of the third saw the Rangers pull to within a goal of the Wild at 4-3. That’s where things stood until there were just under four minutes left when Anthony “Tony Duke” Duclair and Mats Zuccarello opened their scoring accounts in quick succession. The latter for the season, the former for his career. And just like that the Rangers took a 5-4 lead that they would not surrender. An ugly game that had the boo-birds out in force for the first two periods flipped into an exciting comeback victory that had the Garden faithful dancing in the aisles.
There were signs of a bright future for the Rangers in Monday night’s game. Duclair’s first goal and two more points for Rick Nash stand out as signs that this is going to be a good season. And the Rangers did kill off two five minute majors without surrendering a goal. But there were also signs that there is a lot of work to do. Lundqvist gave up four goals. He wasn’t helped by some sloppy defensive play at even strength, but he will have to be better going forward.
We’ll see which Ranger team shows up Saturday when they take on the Winnipeg Jets who are making their rounds of the NY area.