No Winter Classic Here- Rangers 4 Islanders 2
No Henrik Lundqvist, No Problem.
Martin Biron made 24 saves, improving to 7-1-0 this season as the New York Rangers continued their winning ways, 4-2 over the New York Islanders.
Brandon Dubinsky scored his first goal in over a month and Marian Gaborik scored his 20th of the season and his 16th career agains the Isles’.
Biron garnered a lot of praise from his coach after the game and the ire of any Islanders fan that remember his .344 Goals-Against-Average when he was a part of the 2009-10 team. He was solid tonight, didn’t allow many second chances and was positionally sound throughout. It was his 21st career win against the Islanders franchise.
P.A Parenteau and Matt Moulson scored Power-Play goals for the Isles’ and Evgeni Nabokov started his first game in over a month. He was the victim of poor effort on the first two goals and beaten clean on a great shot by Michael Del Zotto. The fourth goal for the Rangers was scored by John Mitchell on an empty net.
This game was difficult to swallow on many levels. The Rangers came into tonight’s game with their backup goalie, two of their top four defensemen out of the lineup and a huge game against the Philadelphia Flyers the very next night. They did enough tonight to get the two points, but the effort was lacking in many aspects, especially on special teams. The Power play was flat throughout and the penalty kill, a strong point recently, yielding two goals to a struggling unit that only had one goal in the last six games combined on their Power Play.
Mark Streit had two assists on the offensive end but continues to baffle you defensively. The route he took on Dubinsky; playing the pass instead of the shot didn’t make any sense since Milan Jurcina was circling back and Dubinsky’s sole option there is to take the shot. Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic both had solid games and limited the truly great scoring chances. After the Del Zotto goal, the Rangers really didn’t generate many more offensive rushes. Mark Eaton and Mike Mottau did not disappoint. Eaton was truly unlucky to have the puck carom off his stick to a streaking Del Zotto, but their play in their zone was solid and mistakes were really kept to a minimum. The effort on the defensive end was not the reason the game ended in the Rangers favor.
The Isles’ made far too many mistake to win a hockey game against a good team. P.A Parenteau, Nino, and Tavares all took offensive zone penalties that thwarted any true momentum. Mental Mistakes hurt as well. Michael Grabner needed to face Gaborik on the face off that led to Gaborik’s 20th. He looked confused on where to be and was beat to the puck cleanly and quickly. This was a set play the Rangers run off an opposing zone face off. Coach Jack Capuano made sure they were aware of this, but it didn’t help when the time arose. As far the Coach goes, he did try to spice up the line combinations , trying to have Tavares not playing against Dan Girardi the entire night. He needs to find a better system on pulling the goalie when they look to go for a tying goal. They never had possession of the puck to give Nabokov, and the sixth skater, a chance to join the play. Nielsen got caught doing too much instead of dumping off the end boards, and the game was put away by Mitchell.
Matt Martin and Nino need to form a line with Josh Bailey is the near future. Martin is becoming a more complete hockey player with each game and Nino playing on the 4th line does nothing for his growth and doesn’t allow him to be in positions to score. Bailey has been a source of my own criticisms in the past, but he is turning into a good young talent. He say 1st line action tonight and his face off and penalty kill work continue to get better each game. It looks like a confidence thing with Bailey, he is playing within himself at the moment and that has shown in his play.
Tim Wallace did goat Stu Bickel into an altercation that gave the Isles’ a power play in the third, but he looks outmatched on most shifts. Marty Reasoner continued to be goal less this season. He was brought in as a Zenon Konopka replacement but hasn’t produced all season, whereas Konopka is getting power play time on occasion and had three goals scored while being near the league lead in Penalty minutes year after year. His presence in the locker room has been tremendous for the Ottawa Senators, a young club looking for an identity. Teams part ways with players all the time but in the Reasoner/Konopka swap, the Senators got the best of that deal.
Tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs gives the Isles’ a quick bounce back against another quality opponent. A better effort for 60 minutes will be needed. An avoidance of the dreaded ‘Rangers Hangover’ needs to be avoided at all costs. Nice to get back on home ice and get two points.