Rangers Rumors & News
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It wasn’t Chuck Rayner vs. Turk Broda. It wasn’t Gump Worsley vs. Johnny Bower. It wasn’t Eddie Giacomin vs. Jacques Plante. It wasn’t Mike Richter vs. Curtis Joseph. It wasn’t even Henrik Lundqvist vs. Andrew Raycroft. But it might as well have been. Stephen Valiquette and Vesa Toskala dueled their way to a 0-0 regulation tie. And after overtime, it was still 0-0. Finally, Fredrik Sjostrom put in a shootout goal, to give the Rangers a 1-0 victory over Toronto.

After Wednesday’s sluggish loss to Buffalo, this was a let’s-see-how-they-react-to-their-first-bad-game-of-the-year game. Did they come out flying, storming and swarming? No. Were they better than Wednesday? Yes. For the first two periods both teams skated aimlessly around the rink, trading shots. But things started to get interesting in the second when the play got a little chippy. Jamal Mayers challenged Marc Staal to a fight, and the Rangers defenseman obliged. Unfortunately,  Staal used his face to hit Mayers’ fists numerous times.

The Blueshirts turned it on in the third period, though. They dominated the play, with the Leafs not getting off a shot until 15 minutes into the period. In a flurry of action, with the Rangers driving to the net and taking shot after shot (like they had been doing most of this season), they hit three posts. Scott Gomez blasted a shot, which deflected off Ryan Callahan, and the puck clanged off both posts without crossing the goal line. And in the same sequence of plays, Dan Girardi rang one off a post, too. It was a game of “almosts.” Gomez almost slid one in on a power play, but Toskala snagged the puck right before it went in the net. And old-friend Dominic Moore hit a post in the first. The Rangers finally played with some desire and urgency, which had been missing the previous five periods. And they ended up out-shooting Toronto 30-16 in regulation.

The Rangers successfully killed a penalty in overtime, and we had the first shootout of the year. It was interesting to see who Tom Renney chose as his shooters. He went with Nikolai Zherdev, Nigel Dawes and Sjostrom. Zherdev put one home to start things off. Dawes (who can’t do anything right this year) missed. And then Sjostrom won the game when his shot went off Toskala’s foot, bounced off the post and hit the goalie’s foot again as he dragged the puck into the net.

The star of the game, though, was Valiquette. It was the second time in consecutive years that he beat his hometown team in a shootout. And three of his 11 career wins are againt the Maple Leafs. He made 21 saves and is now 2-0 for the season. With the Rangers not scoring any goals, he kept the team alive until they could win it in the shootout (where he stopped two out of three shots). Not bad for a backup.

The Rangers penalty killing was back on track, going four for four. But their power play was atrocious. They were 0 for eight. The third line continues to be a revolving door. Last night it was Callahan, Dawes and Dan Fritsche. Should we start worrying about Chris Drury and his one measly point (a lonely assist) for the year? And there was no sign of former Rangers Ryan Hollweg in the Maple Leafs lineup. He’s already on his second suspension of the season, and has played in only one game. Surprise, surprise.

The Rangers are now 6-1 and head to Detroit tonight to face the Stanley Cup champions.

Bag-O’-Knuckles-O-Meter

Paul Mara: 2

Colton Orr: 2

Ryan Callahan: 1

Brandon Dubinsky: 1

Marc Staal: 1

Aaron Voros: 1

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