NEW YORK, NY – After backing up their worst game this season in Toronto with their worst game for several seasons at home to the lowly Edmunton Oilers, the Rangers took the ice against the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins needing a big performance to turn things around. And what a performance they got! With Derek Stepan rejoining the team over the weekend and John Moore returning from his suspension, the Rangers looked a lot closer to their ideal roster than they have all season. The Blueshirts put five goals past Marc-Andre Fleury and on the other end Henrik Lundqvist played lights out to blank the Chilly Birds.
Five goals from five different players was the order as the Blueshirts played – by far – their most complete performance of the season. They followed up that dominant display with a solid outing against the Colorado Avalanche last night. After a rocky first period, the Rangers pulled it together and ended up losing in a shootout. Dan Boyle was back in the squad after recovering from a broken hand. This meant that the Rangers could finally jettison Michael Kostka, who was perhaps the worst player in the history of hockey, if not organized sports in general. Every time Kostka was on the ice my blood pressure would rise. Every time his name was mentioned, I would get instant agita. But he’s gone now. Hopefully, he’s gone for good.
Meanwhile, Boyle played well in his first game. He looked a little rusty and out of sync in the first period but he settled in nicely and made some nice plays. It is good to have him back to shore up the defense and add another dimension to the power play. And as I mentioned earlier, Boyle’s return means Kostka is gone. With Ryan McDonagh set to miss another few weeks due to a separated shoulder, the return of Boyle and Moore is all important. Barring any more injuries, the squad will be complete by Christmas.
Anthony “Tony Duke” Duclair has been a healthy scratch the past two games. He’s played well but I think Alain Vigneault and the brass are worried about burning out the 19-year-old this early in the season. Duclair has six points through 12 games. If the Rangers could send him to Hartford, I think they would. But as of now they would have to send Duclair back to Juniors, which would mean they couldn’t recall him this season. So, we’re going to have to deal with AV sitting Duclair for a couple of games every few weeks. I don’t know if Vigneault will give the kid a shot in Pittsburgh on Saturday, but Tanner Glass hasn’t done much of anything this season. I’d love to see Duclair back in the squad and Glass on the healthy scratch list.
It will be a tough game in Pittsburgh tonight. There’s nothing worse than a woman scorned… other than an embarrassed Penguin. Look for a much tougher and much closer game.
Check out a man that loves to see the Rangers lose as much as he likes to see Boston win, Cheesy Bruin tomorrow. Hopefully, he won’t be bashing rugby – the game some of us happen to like – a lot. Enjoy the weekend.