Two smart periods and one sloppy period equals Rangers win. It wasn’t perfect but the Rangers got what they deserved out of the game as they beat the Devils 4-2. They were the better team throughout and ten minutes aside in the second controlled play, were defensively solid and could have scored more if not for some sharp goaltending by Brodeur. On to the notes from the game…
Perhaps they were inevitable, but if ever a series of fights can be a seminal moment for a team then maybe the melee at the start of this game was such a moment for the Rangers. They admitted they didn’t match the Devils the last time out but three fights to kick this game off set the tone of the first period for the Rangers. Rupp and Boulton (who has no right to be in the league), Prust and Janssen and a highly entertaining Bickel and Carter scrap got the game going immediately with the crowd lapping it up.
The Rangers dominated to begin. Their physicality, speed, forecheck and desire to win every puck battle was impressive. The Devils were rocked as the Rangers took command; the result of the scraps or sheer desire?
The Rangers goal in the first came on a breakdown by the Devils leading to a 4 on 2 which saw Stepan feed Dubinsky who beat Brodeur from between the hash marks. So often the Rangers fail to capitalize on odd man rushes because they overplay it so it was nice to see them convert.
The Rangers generated a few additional chances including one which led to a review after Boyle spun out from the corner and his centering feed creating havoc in front. The correct call was made but it was still good play from the Rangers: Boyle putting it on net with other Rangers (Fedotenko) crashing the crease.
Huge break for the Rangers midway through as Kovalchuk had a huge chance in front only to be denied by a great poke check by Lundqvist when the puck broke to Parise who ringed one off the post. Lundqvist deserved the break: he was aggressive on Kovalchuk with his stick yet at the same time, showed patience sliding across goal to follow Kovalchuk’s attempted deke.
Biggest concern for the Rangers in the first was on the penalty kill. While it was aggressive in parts, the one player they simply cannot allow to load up and fire away is Kovalchuk. Several times the Russian had clear sights on goal and was only stopped by his (on this occasion) lack of accuracy and a Hank glove; Kovalchuk was given too much space on the PP.
Given their recent slump, it was on the whole a fine first for the Rangers. They controlled the period for the most part.