The Rangers ended their three-game losing streak by beating Phoenix last night, 5-2, winning the game for former Ranger announcer Bill “The Big Whistle” Chadwick. “We’re dedicating our season to the announcing legend. So much of my youth was spent watching the Rangers on channel 9, listening to the antics of Chadwick and his partner, Jim Gordon, that for a while there, I thought Chadwick was my father, and my real dad was just some guy from the neighborhood who sat around the living room drinking vodka all the time. We had to win this game for The Big Whistle or I’d never forgive myself,” said captain Chris Drury. (Ok, he didn’t come close to saying that; I said it to myself while I was riding on the subway this morning.)
The Blueshirts were going the wrong way the last week or so, but last night they turned things around and put in a steady performance. They fell asleep after taking a 4-0 lead, and got off to a rocky start in the third period when Dan Girardi took a penalty before he even got out of the locker room, put they took care of business the rest of the way. Brandon Dubinsky and Chris Higgins were set free from chateau bowwow, and both had solid games, though Higgins still can’t buy himself a goal. The defense played well, and Michael Del Zotto is now tied for the NHL lead in points for defensemen, with 12. The team didn’t constantly turn the puck over like they had been, they didn’t make mistakes in the neutral zone and they were quicker to the puck, getting back to the way they want to play the game. And their special teams continue to be among the best in the league.
The stars of the game were the revamped first-liners: Marian Gaborik, Vinny Prospal and Enver Lisin. Gaborik and Prospal continue to impress, performing as well as anyone could have expected. And the talented Lisin seems to fit right in with the two veterans. As John Tortorella stated, “I think you often put a young kid that doesn’t have the skill that he has in a top position and it may not work. Lis is a talented player and is getting better away from the puck.” Prospal is now two assists behind Joe Thornton for the league lead. The consistently great Gaborik is now tied for the league lead in goals, with 10, and is second in points (18). But we heard the five words no Ranger fan wants to hear last night: “Gaborik limps off the ice.” He claims the injury is not to his hip or groin, both which have given him problems in the past, and no one around the team seems to be concerned, so hopefully it’s just a routine “lower body” injury and he’ll be back for Wednesday’s game.
The Rangers need to find a little more consistency, and play a full 60 minutes, but as Dave Maloney said after the game, they’re a work in progress, with many new players and a new coach. They got back to their winning ways last night, and, surely, The Big Whistle in the sky was up there watching this game, and I could have sworn I heard him yell, “Shoot the puck, Del Zotto! Shoot the puck!”
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