Brassard Nets Two As Rangers Top Flyers

Derick Brassard scored a pair of goals as the Rangers beat the Philadelphia Flyers for the second time in two days, 5-2, in a matinee at The Garden. Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves in the victory. The Rangers [11-8-4] are now 3-0 against the Flyers this season.

Brassard got the Blueshirts on the board first, with a power play goal 2:50 into the game, for a quick 1-0 Rangers lead. Nicklas Grossmann knotted the score at 1-all later in the period.

The Flyers took a 2-1 lead midway in the second period, as Jakub Voracek scored his 9th of the season, on the power play. Then the Rangers took charge. Jesper Fast scored his first goal on the goal at 11:38 to tie the game at 2-all.

In the third, Brassard scored, his 8th of the year, to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead. J.T. Miller followed at the 9:54 mark to make it 4-2; it was Miller’s first goal of the season. Lee Stempniak scored New York’s final goal, an empty netter with 0:24 to play, to make it 5-2.

The Bleushirts were without Chris Kreider, who missed the game following the death of his grandfather. Tanner Glass and Dan Boyle missed the game with illnesses.

The Rangers are back on the ice Monday night, when they host Tampa Bay at The Garden.


Talbot, Rangers Blank Flyers Again

Cam Talbot must be looking ahead on the Rangers’ schedule to see when he can get between the pipes against Philadelphia again. Talbot shut out the Flyers for the second time in ten days, as the Blueshirts beat their division rivals, 3-0, in a matinee game at the Wells Fargo Center.

Dan Boyle got the Rangers on the scoreboard in the first period, scoring a powerplay goal on a slapshot from just inside the blue line to make it 1-0. Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis with the assists.

St. Louis made it 2-0 in the second period on a great pass from Stepan. It was the 1000th point of the 39-year-old St. Louis’ NHL career.

Rick Nash scored a shorthanded goal in the third period, his 16th goal of the season [2nd in the NHL behind Tyler Seguin of Dallas].

Talbot stopped 26 shots and improved to 2-2-1 on the year, and lowering his GAA to 2.21.

The team welcomed Ryan McDonagh back after suffering a shoulder injury November 1st; he logged 22 minutes of ice time, and had an assist on the Nash goal. It was the first time all season that coach Alain Vigneault was able to send his 20 best skaters onto the ice.

The two teams will meet Saturday afternoon at The Garden.



Black Friday Special: A Rangers-Flyers Matinee!

Rangers fans can take a break from Black Friday shopping this afternoon and catch the Blueshirts [9-8-4] and the division-rival Flyers [8-10-3] in a holiday weekend matinee today in Philadelphia [1pm ET]. It’s the first game of back-to-back matinees between the two teams; they face off at The Garden Saturday afternoon.

The Rangers beat the Flyers 2-0 in their first meeting this season, November 19th at The Garden; Cam Talbot notched his first win – and first shutout – of the season.


Callahan Nets Two as Tampa Bay Tops Rangers Again

Ex-Ranger Ryan Callahan knows how to stick it to his former team. Nine days ago at The Garden, on November 17th, Callahan scored twice to lead Tampa Bay to a 5-1 win.

Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Callahan had two more goals, and an assist, and lineman Steven Stamkos added a goal and an assist, as the Lightning beat the Rangers again, 4-3.

Stamkos opened the scoring five minutes into the game with a power play goal, a slapshot past Henrik Lundqvist, to make it 1-0 Lightning. Mats Zuccarello evened things up three minutes later with his 4th goal of the season.

Tied at 1-all, the Lightning were called for too many men on the ice and the Blueshirts capitalized. Eleven seconds later, Dan Boyle scored his first goal as a Ranger to make it 2-1 New York. Callahan then tipped a shot in for his 9th of the season at the 17:34 mark, and the teams were tied 2-all after one period.

Callahan scored again midway through the second period, with assists from Stamkos and Jack Killorn, to give Tampa Bay a lead it would never lose. The Rangers offensive attack mustered only 11 shots in the first two periods.

After Nikita Kucherov made it 4-2 midway through the third period, Rick Nash scored his 15th goal of the season with 7:11 left to cut the Tampa Bay lead to 4-3, but the Rangers could not score again. The Rangers made it somewhat easy for Lightning goalie Ben Bishop; he only faced 19 shots on the night.

The Blueshirts [9-8-4] have Thanksgiving Day off, and then play back-to-back matinees with the Flyers Friday [in Philadelphia] and Saturday [at The Garden].

20 Thoughts After 20 Games

A quarter of the way into the 2014-15 season. A few observations, twenty games in:

1. Anyone who predicted that Rick Nash would have 14 goals after 20 games is a liar.

After scoring 30 goals seven times in nine seasons with Columbus, Nash had only mustered 21 and 26 goals in his first two seasons as a Ranger. His 14 goals are tied for 2nd in the NHL, and his hot start to 2014-15 is the Rangers’ top story so far by far.

2. You have to feel pretty good about 9-7-4

In 2013-14, the Rangers started the season with a long road trip and were 10-10-0 after 20 games. In 2014-15, 9-7-4 [22 pts] is a good start, but they need to hope the Penguins [30 pts] and the Islanders(!)[30 pts] don’t pull too far away.

3. Henrik Lundqvist is still King

After giving up six goals in back-to-back games in the first week of the season back in October, Lundqvist has been rock-solid. His stats: 8-5-3 with four shutouts, a 2.51 GAA and a .914 save percentage. He must remain healthy for the Rangers to have a good season.

4. That being said, Cam Talbot is a solid #2

Talbot posted his first win of the season last week against the Flyers, a 2-0 shutout. That can only bolster his confidence and help him on the nights Alain Vigneault starts him.

5. Anthony Duclair is only going to continue to get better

The 19-year-old has made the most of his chances thus far, and Vigneault has been smart about not overusing him [Duclair is only averaging 12 minutes a game]. His assist the other night on Carl Hagelin’s goal against Montreal was spectacular.

6. You can never have enough speed

When you look at the Blueshirts’ roster, there are only a handful of players you can point to and say “He’s fast”. Duclair. Mats Zuccarello. Martin St. Louis. Their speed makes an impact, and the Rangers could use more team speed. If anyone doubts the importance of speed in a game, go back and look at the way St. Louis stole the puck from Alexei Emelin and scored in the 2nd period against the Canadiens Sunday night. A great individual effort. His speed created that goal.

7. Rest is best

The team has to feel somewhat well-rested one quarter of the way through the season; they’ve played 20 games in the first 47 days of the season. Twenty teams have played more games.

8. There’s no place like home

The early part of the Rangers schedule has been very home-game heavy, with 14 of the first 20 games being played at The Garden. The Blueshirts are 7-4-3 in those games, for 17 of the team’s 22 points.

9. The power play, while better, is still anemic

The Rangers have scored nine power play goals in 58 chances [15.5%], 22nd-best in the NHL. Nash, St. Louis, Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider have two apiece. They have to improve in this area.

10. The penalty killing, meanwhile, has been OK

The Blueshirts are in the middle of the pack in the league when it comes to killing penalties while shorthanded, allowing 12 goals [81.2%]

11. The offense must continue to improve

The Rangers have scored 57 goals in 20 games, a 2.85 average. Your goalies have to be pretty good if your offense isn’t scoring three goals a game.

12. The new acquisitions will be counted on to contribute more

The top six scorers on the team are returning players [Nash, St. Louis, Brassard, Kreider, Hagelin, Zuccarello]. Lee Stempniak [8 pts in 18 gms], Kevin Hayes [6 pts in 17 gms], and Dominic Moore [6 pts in 20 gms] need to pick it up; all will be relied on more and more as the season rolls on.

13. Ryan McDonagh cannot get healthy fast enough

The team captain has not played since suffering a separated shoulder November 1st vs Winnipeg. The team’s defense, impacted by injuries and a suspension, has not had its top six in the lineup in the same game once all season.

14. Welcome back, Derek Stepan

The Rangers’ top line center broke his leg in the preseason, and has only been back for eight games, but with seven points [2 G, 5 A], the team’s offense is already benefitting.

15. Never take your eyes off Martin St. Louis

That goes for both fans and opponents [see #6]. St. Louis has been superb, especially in the last ten games [7 G, 4 A].

16. So far, they’ve had puck luck

Case in point: Rick Nash deflected a Derick Brassard shot off his backside and in for a goal against Detroit November 5th

17. There have been a few long nights thus far

Five of the team’s last eleven games have gone into extra time, and seven of the first twenty.

18. The team’s performance in the shootout needs work

The Rangers are 1-4 in shootouts this season. The Islanders have the best mark in the NHL, at 5-0.

19. The next six or seven games will be a good yardstick

It’s a challenging seven-game stretch that starts at Tampa Bay [30 pts] Wednesday, followed by home-and-home matinees Friday and Saturday with division rival Philadelphia, and then a rematch at home vs Tampa Bay December 1st. It continues with a game at Detroit [27 pts], one at home against Pittsburgh [30 pts], and then a game at Vancouver [29 pts] to start a four-game road trip. Cross your fingers.

20. With 62 games to go, anything can happen.

And probably will. See you at The Garden.

Rangers Blank Canadiens 5-0

The New York Rangers, the maddeningly inconsistent Rangers, scored early and often at The Garden Sunday night, blanking the Montreal Canadiens 5-0. Five different Blueshirts found the back of the net, and goalie Henrik Lundqvist posted his fourth shutout of the season, as the Rangers improved to 9-7-4.

Dominic Moore got the Rangers offense going midway through the first period, scoring his first goal of 2014-15. Derek Stepan made it 2-0 less than a minute into the second period, making a nice play in the neutral zone and then getting a perfect pass back from Martin St. Louis.

St. Louis was next to score, on an amazing individual effort. He stole the puck from Alexei Emelin, lifting Emelin’s stick to make the theft, and put the puck past Montreal goalie Dustin Tokarski to make it 3-0. After only one goal in the team’s first ten games, St. Louis has seven goals in the last ten games.

Carl Hagelin scored 1:40 into the third period, on a great pass from Anthony Duclair to make it 4-0, and Rick Nash added his 14th goal of the season, thanks to a nifty pass from Derick Brassard.

The team had great speed and made crisp passes all game long. A great night for the Rangers, in just about every facet of the game.

The Blueshirts are back in action Wednesday night, in Tampa against the Lightning.

Rangers-Sabres Game Rescheduled For February 20th

The NHL has announced that the Rangers-Sabres game that was scheduled to be played in Buffalo Friday night and was postponed due to historic levels of snow there, now has a new date, Friday February 20th.

Rescheduling that game required the league to move another game; a Sabres-Senators game set for February 20th has been moved up to December 15th.


Rangers-Sabres Game Friday in Buffalo Postponed

The game between the Rangers and Sabres that was scheduled for Friday night in Buffalo has been postponed, with no make-up date announced by the NHL. The city and the surrounding area have been socked with snow in the past few days and the league, appropriately, postponed the game.

The Rangers host Montreal Sunday night at The Garden.

Talbot, Rangers Blank Flyers

Cam Talbot came up big, stopping all 33 shots he faced, and powering the Rangers to a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday night at The Garden. The win was Talbot’s first of the season and was his fourth career shutout.

Kevin Klein got the Blueshirts on the board at the 5:20 mark of the first period; Carl Hagelin with the assist. The Rangers made it 2-0 midway through the second period when Rick Nash scored a power-play goal, finishing off a play that featured nice passes from Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis and putting the puck past Steve Mason.

It was Nash’s 13th goal of the season, second to Tyler Sequin of the Stars, who has 14.

After that, it was all Talbot. The Flyers had 13 shots on goal in the third period and Talbot and the Rangers defense would not yield.

The Rangers [8-7-4, 20 pts] are back in action Friday night, when they battle the Sabres in snowy Buffalo.


Callahan Nets Two as Lightning Zaps Rangers

The Rangers were the perfect hosts Monday night at The Garden. During the first television timeout, a video saluting former Rangers Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman was shown on the scoreboard, and brought a big round of applause from the fans. Then the Blueshirts continued their generosity, giving up five goals, including two by Callahan, as Tampa Bay beat New York 5-1.

Nikita Kucherov got the Lightning on the board first, and Callahan added a power-play goal at the 14:20 mark to make it 2-0 Lightning after one period. Martin St. Louis cut it to 2-1 with a power-play goal [yes, a Rangers power-play goal!] less than a minute into the second period.

But that was about it for the Blueshirts. They were held to a season-low 16 shots on goal for the game.

Alex Killorn and Steven Stamkos added goals in the second period, and Callahan scored his second of the game and 8th of the season in the third.

The Lightning is now 8-1-1 in their last ten games. The Rangers, meanwhile, have now lost three games in a row, and dropped their record to 7-7-4. Coach Alain Vigneault told the media afterwards, “We’re a .500 hockey team right now and .500 isn’t going to get you to the playoffs.”

The Blueshirts are back in action Wednesday night, when they host the Flyers.