Rangers Rumors & News
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For the second game in a row the Rangers went to a shootout down in Florida, and for the second game in a row they won, this time beating the Panthers, 4-3. They’re using the shootout as a crutch. If they blow a late-game lead – like they’ve done the last two games now – they know they’ll win if they can survive overtime, because they have a not-so-secret weapon: Henrik Lundqvist. He’s only allowed two goals in 17 shootout atttempts, and the Blueshirts are 6-1 in shootouts.

The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. The romp was on. Ok, the romp wasn’t on. That’s two consecutive games that they’ve had an early lead. It’s a brand-new world for them, and I’m not sure if they know what to do with it. Nikloai Zherdev got New York on the board first with his eighth goal of the season. That gives him a goal, five assists and a fight in his last three games (all Rangers wins). Everybody was surprised when he dropped the gloves on Wednesday with Steven Stamkos, even the combatants. It was reminiscent of the Phil EspositoRichard Martin fight in the 1978 playoffs. What the heck are these two guys doing? Zherdev also scored the winning shootout goal in both Florida games. Both five-hole.

Dan Fritsche followed Zherdev’s goal with his first as a Ranger. And Aaron Voros netted the final regulation goal in the third period. Two goals from the third line? That doesn’t happen every game, let alone week. Fritsche almost had another one, too, when one of his shots bounced off the post and slid right on the goal line before being stopped. Michal Rozsival had two assists, giving him four in the last two games. And he didn’t turn the puck over leading to a goal. If he keeps this up, we’re not going to be able to make fun of him anymore.

But there were plenty of mistakes to go around in this one. The team committed a total of six penalties, including giving the Panthers a five on three in the third. Brandon Dubinsky had an egregious turnover in the defensive zone. But who was there to bail him and his teammates out yet again? Lundqvist, of course. He’s like the White Shadow, getting his teammates out of jams and fixes (while teaching them all valuable life lessons along the way). He had to make sensational saves while the Rangers were on the power play, had to save them while they were two men short and made 38 saves in all. But he was helpless on Florida’s tying goal with a minute and a half left in regulation. While protecting a one-goal lead, Florida scored on a two-on-one. Are you kidding me? And the Rangers had their defensive specialist, fourth line on the ice. What were they even doing in the offensive zone? Allowing an odd-man rush at that point in the game is inexcusable.

The Rangers power play was feeble yet again. Their point men are just afraid to shoot. As Bill “The Big Whistle” Chadwick used to yell at Barry Beck from the announcer’s booth a few decades ago: “Shoot the puck!” The game shouldn’t have been this close. Fewer mistakes and a power play goal or two and they cruise to an easy win. The Blueshirts weren’t battling the Panthers as much as they were fighting against themselves. But they won. It was a sigh-of-relief win, but a win nonetheless. Next game: Sunday at 1:00 vs. Florida at the Garden.

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