It’s becoming difficult to start off every post with saying how nice it is as a Rangers fan to keep winning. The feeling isn’t going away — nor do I hope it does — but it’s becoming the norm to win every night, something that hasn’t happened this late in the season since 1995-96.
Tonight, the Rangers deserved to beat the Phoenix Coyotes, but not in a shootout. They controlled the tempo of the game, the shots and the pace from start to finish. If not for Mike Smith, who channeled his inner Patrick Roy, this game would have been over quickly.
But on the other side of the coin, this could be an example of the Rangers needing that one extra finisher in the lineup to make them an even bigger force heading into the post-season.
After two scoreless periods, Ruslan Fedotenko buried a shot from the slot that only beat Smith because he couldn’t see it. The Coyotes answered midway through the final period on a Radim Vrbata one-timer from the top of the circle for his 20th goal of the year.
It was a frantic overtime period that included Marian Gaborik getting denied on possibly the save of the year by Smith. Gaborik deked Smith, turning him into a human pretzel before getting his stick on the puck to extend the game to a shootout.
Gaborik got some revenge in the third round of the shootout to tie it, and in the sixth round, Derek Stepan put the Rangers ahead for good. Henrik Lundqvist denied Shane Doan for the win.
- For once, it wasn’t a low-scoring game that Lundqvist kept the team in. The majority of the play took place in the Coyotes’ end, and Smith was just a man possessed. As I said, it took a shot he couldn’t see for the Rangers to score. Even with the loss, I would have given him the first start of the game. He was that good.
- Gaborik has to start shooting in these shootouts. He’s got one of the quickest releases in the league, and it’s lethal when he lets it go, as he showed in the shootout. Shoot the puck, Marian!
- Speaking of the shootout, the team could have used either Erik Christensen or Wojtek Wolski tonight. The team has an abundance of guys who are 0-for-5, 1-for-8, 1-for-9. It’s part of the game — whether you agree or disagree — and you need guys in the lineup who could score in the contest.
- After starting the season taking about 400 penalties a game, the Rangers didn’t commit one that left them shorthanded tonight. The best penalty kill is not taking any at all.
- Glad to see Brian Boyle finally get on the scoresheet. The guy does everything right but put up points. It appears as though last season was indeed a fluke, but he’s stuck with it. But boy could the guy use a goal. 20 or so games without one? He’s caught the Dubinsky. Or did Dubi catch the Boyle?
- Anyone else’s stomach turn when Michael Rozsival picked up an assist on the Vrbata goal? I still hate him.
- If he’s available, I’d love Doan on this club. Him and Ryan Callahan were going at it all night. Loved it.
- 58 points in 40 games. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia