A win is a win is a win. That’s really what I take out of the Rangers’ 2-0 victory over the Flyers on Wednesday. New York was desperate for a win along with an improved effort compared to Monday’s debacle against Tampa Bay and did receive both.
Andrew Gross summed it very nicely in his blog last night:
Because all the bad things the Rangers did on Monday were corrected, at least for this game. The team played a sound defensive game, meaning there were good gaps and communication between the defensemen, who kept the Flyers to the outside in the Rangers’ zone. The forwards came back to forecheck and the team played as a five-man unit, rather than individuals trying to make plays, well, individually. In general, there was a strong trust between the players. This all allowed the Rangers – again, much different than Monday – to dominate puck possession deep into the third period. Even though the final score seems tight at 2-0, the Rangers, up until late in the third period, were greatly outchancing the Flyers.
Larry Brooks gave a great overview as to the issues so far this year in his column today:
There had been too many unaccountable lapses in discipline, too many mental breakdowns and too many instances where the Rangers failed to compete.
On the former from Gross, to me, the key line in that paragraph is: “at least for this game.” That’s my view. It’s one game. New York was good, took care of what they had to and played as they should have been all year, but it’s just one game. They benefited from a Philly team that is horrible defensively and benefited from a good game from Steve Mason, or the score would have been much worse. But again, it’s just one game. Unless New York brings the same style of play and more importantly attitude to Friday against Buffalo – assuming the game happens due to the snow – Sunday against Montreal and moving forward, it will just be a blip on the radar. For me to truly buy in and believe, the effort expended last night needs to become the norm and not the exception.
I thought Cam Talbot was very good last night, providing the type of goaltending the team needed. That is not a knock on Henrik Lundqvist, who has stood tall in many games while the team around him floundered, but having a good game from Talbot enables Lundqvist to be rested and not overworked. I have seen some thoughts as to playing Talbot against Buffalo on Friday, enabling him to build off his shutout. To me, that’s not a bad idea, as it gives Lundqvist a few more days off, during which he shouldn’t go stake and has him prepped and ready for Sunday.
Last night might have been the fourth line’s best game of the year. They were strong on-and-off the puck and did a good job on the forecheck. In 2013-14, the bottom trio were a huge component of the Rangers’ success, getting them back on the beam, even though the group is constituted with new players, is a major key moving forward.
As Pete wrote: after Buffalo, they have Montreal, Tampa twice, the Flyers twice, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Vancouver and Edmonton. That won’t be an easy stretch of games and playing as they did last night will be a huge key for success in those contests. We all know that last year it took New York until the New Yea to find their strides, a slightly earlier jump on that would be nice.
A win is a win is a win. Now go out and do it the same way moving forward.