Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Uglier Side of Winning

The Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers faced off at Madison Square Garden last night as both were on hot streaks. Coming in the Rangers had won five straight, coming off a most recent seven goal performance against the woeful Toronto Maple Leafs. The LA Kings came in on a four game winning streak having most recently beaten the New York Islanders on Monday night by a score of 2-1.
Despite the fact that usual starter Jonathan Quick was not the starter last night, Erik Ersberg is no slouch of a goaltender and the LA Kings are one of those up and coming Western Conference teams who will be a force in the future. Their style of hard forechecking and being physical on the puck, not to mention being a physically big team, sort of reminds me of the Philadelphia Flyers. What happens in the future for them will only be told by time but Kings fans have plenty to be excited about.
But last night's game saw a Ranger team get lucky. Vinny Prospal scored two power play goals in the first period as he broke the 200 career goal mark on the first one. The first one came off a nice deflection setup by Michael Del Zotto who finished with two assists on the night. The rookie continues to light it up on the power play as well as Ales Kotalik who had two more assists, both on the powerplay goals. Brian Boyle made it 3-1 as he scored against his former team in what would prove to be the game winner.
Coming out of the first period with a one goal lead was a bit tough because from the 2nd period on it was a domination of puck possession by the LA Kings. They continued to battle the Rangers who were tired as they finished up a stretch of three games in four nights at home. Ryan Smyth scored their first goal off a nice deflection while Jack Johnson scored in the second period to make it 3-2. Being a Rangers fan I was prepared for a letdown. Why shouldn't I be considering the way the team has been the last few years?
That was until Marian Gaborik. When you are actually at a game you can appreciate plays much more because you see everything that is going on down on the ice and in the crowd. When Gaborik got the pass from Prospal and went over the line slow you could feel the buzz in the building. Starting off slow he came down the wing and released a shot like a rattlesnake. It was quick, sudden and deadly. The puck was in the net before Ersberg knew what had happened and oh my what a sick shot it was. You can call it a roof, snipe, or whatever else you want but it was a thing of beauty. I have watched the goal at least ten times and every time I cannot help but laugh and smile knowing how unbelievably sick that shot is. I tried watching it frame by frame and it is unbelievable to see him have the puck in one frame and the next its already bouncing out of the net. Poor Erik Ersberg. Click the link at the end of this post if you missed the goal.
That was the only shot the Rangers had in the third period. After that it was all Henrik Lundqvist as he had to preserve the win just as he had so many times before. He made a stellar save in the first period and had to make more by looking through screens and dealing with people barreling into him again. Lundqvist finished with 34 saves and was named the first star of the game.
The Rangers get a day off today and hopefully some much needed rest. It was an ugly win but, as John Tortorella said in the post game, good teams win these kinds of games. He certainly is right. New York will be in Toronto on Saturday night to take on the Maple Leafs once again.
The Phoenix Coyotes return home tonight after a big shootout win over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night. They will be looking to get their first win on home ice this season when they host the St. Louis Blues. Hopefully another big crowd will be on hand.
The Coyotes sent Mikkel Boedker to the AHL. While it is sad to see this, it is for the ebtter as Boedker was not getting much playing time in Phoenix. It makes more sense to put him in a position where he will get plenty of ice time and can develop some chemistry with some of the players who will make up the future of the franchise. I have a feeling Yotes fans will be seeing Mikkel back in Phoenix before the season is over.
Once ugly win but one that Ranger fans will take...especially if Gaborik keeps on scoring pretty goals like this.

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