It's not often we see the Rangers hammer opponents. Especially this hard working club short on talent outside the star goalie and star forward. The reason fans love this team is because they come to the rink ready to go to work. More often than not, they've given the Garden Faithful reasons to cheer and get excited.
Last night was no exception. Truth be told, even I didn't foresee our resilient club putting up seven on a good Cap team going through a slump. However, my gut told me they would respond off a tough 3-1 road loss at Columbus in which Henrik Lundqvist let down teammates. The one aspect that any Ranger fan can appreciate is how tough our guys are. They bounce back. No wonder I was confident as they took the 7-0 record in the second of back-to-backs at Madison Square Garden. As we made our way into the building, I guaranteed victory to startled looks on Dad, Justin and Mike. Why? Because whenever it seems this team's backs are to the wall following a disappointment, they show who they are. Credit John Tortorella for building the character and confidence we're seeing.
I didn't have us winning 7-zip. I figured Lundqvist would be better because for as much as I get on him when he allows softies, the man has a ton of pride. He takes losses to heart. Even ones which aren't his fault as evidenced in an MSG loss to Ottawa a week prior. He wants to lead this team. So, I had no doubt he'd be primed last night stopping all 31 shots his way (accurately predicted btw) en route to shutout No.5 and the Swede's 29th in his career. It's easy to forget that during the blowout that delighted the place to the tune of a standing ovation following a dominant second period, it was only 1-0 before the skies opened literally on Washington. After solid citizen Brandon Prust made it 1-zip, the King was there to stop Alexander Semin. He made a few pivotal stops before our team put up a four spot.
There wasn't one player who didn't show with even Alex Frolov continuing to improve since being put with energizer duo Prust and Brian Boyle, who emerged into a playmaker. Everyone contributed. Marc Staal was a beast, scoring a shorthanded goal and setting up a Gaborik tally while keeping Alex Ovechkin in check. Partner Dan Girardi a block machine, repelling any shot that came his way during one Cap power play where it seemed seven or eight were blocked with Boyle and Prust doing the job at the points. This was a masterpiece. The way we want to see our heroes play. When Artem Anisimov blew one past the poor Cap goalie who Bruce Boudreau didn't pull, it ended a nine-game point drought. I also felt he was ready to break out following a good performance realigned with Draft Linemates Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan.
Marc Staal kept a puck alive and fired for Gaborik, who tipped home his ninth making it 3-0. Then, Dubinsky got into the act backing up the matador Cap D before faking pass, then firing thru the wickets for his team best 14th. The party wasn't over. Not when Boyle came with a full head of steam shorthanded with Staal, making a sweet dish to our suddenly emerging franchise defenseman who had an even sweeter backhand deke finish, increasing to five.
This was Le Magnifique with apologies to Super Mario. There was also Dubinsky standing up for Girardi after Ovechkin came late. And Ovi accepted the challenge and the two threw down with Brandon getting the takedown to roaring approval. Imagine Sidney Crosby answering the bell to Dubi. We can dream with Wednesday's grudge match approaching. With the game decided, Sean Avery avenged Mike Sauer with a clean right earning the decision. To the haters, say what you want. But there isn't any teammate Avery won't stand up for.
There also was Dubinsky and Callahan hooking up for a beautiful goal from Cally in front. Then, there was No.24 racing in two-on-one with Dubi and ripping one off the far post to hit double digits. All on a night nothing went wrong. Spear the few knuckleheads who cheered when a Semin shot hit Ovechkin. The act of a few fools doesn't give any hockey writer/blogger the right to unfairly label an entire fanbase. Unfortunately, there are these types everywhere. And I'll bet if Avery was the victim in enemy territory, it would likely be worse. Don't rain on our parade because of a silly few who don't have common sense. There are plenty of knowledgeable Ranger fans who know how to act and were appalled by the folly of those losers.
It doesn't change what the guys wearing the cool third threads did. Now, they get to test it against the mighty Pens. We can hardly wait.