Monday, October 24, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 2, Jets 1
By Mike Hume
What it means: What could have been a crippling road trip for the Rangers instead provided six points in the standings as New York completed its Canadian swing with a 3-1 record following a 2-1 win over Winnipeg. Most encouraging? Despite the trio of wins, the Rangers don't seem to have played their best hockey yet.
Shots (or not): The Rangers weren't exactly a prolific team in the shots department last season, averaging just 29.9 per game, good for 19th leaguewide. But this season the Blueshirts' shots have been scarce to say the least. Monday night the Rangers mustered just three in the first period and 11 through 40 minutes.
The Rangers' offense is more or less predicated on blue-collar goals, putting the puck on the net and hammering after rebounds. When the first part of that equation is absent, it's sure tough to generate any rebounds. New York finished with just 17 shots Monday, but earned the win when a Ryan Callahan shot glanced off a defenseman's skate and redirected into the net. Good things happen when you put the puck on the goal. The Rangers should remember that when they return home.
Discipline: Perhaps for the first time this season the Rangers curbed their penchant for taking penalties. New York only had to kill 1:17 of shorthanded time. Moreover, they drew five minor penalties from the Jets and capitalized with two power play goals -- a rarity for a unit that had produced just one goal with the man advantage in the 2011-12 campaign.
Biron at his best:Martin Biron got the nod in net, the first of some 20-plus starts the Rangers hope to get him this season. He certainly showed no signs of rust, finishing with 28 saves on 29 shots, flummoxed only by a lightning-fast release from Nik Antropov when the Rangers had trouble clearing their zone late in the second period.
In and out:Wojtek Wolski returned to the lineup Monday, skating a little over 15 minutes and leaving little in the way of a statistical imprint, registering just one takeaway. Meanwhile, Marian Gaborik missed much of the third period, skating fewer than three minutes in the final frame. The reasons for the sniper staying on the bench were not immediately clear in the wake of the game.
Up next: The 3-2-2 Rangers (finally) return home for their Garden debut on Thursday against the Northeast Division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs.