Thursday, November 10, 2011

The GAS Line burns Senators

Ever since John Tortorella moved Artem Anisimov up with Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik, the cohesive trio have had something going. An unlikely combo due to three different styles has proven dangerous for opposing goalies. Last night in Kanata proved no different with the newly formed GAS Line burning the Senators for all three goals in the Rangers' fifth consecutive win- a 3-2 count avenging a bad home loss on Oct.29.

The new name which one Ranger tweep came up with looks like it'll stick for at least the time being. Gaborik (2-1-3), Stepan (1-2-3) and Anisimov (2 helpers) combined for eight points, including some magic on one of Gabby's goals where the emerging second-year former Badger made a perfect no-look feed for an easy tap-in. Of course, we're talking about Stepan, who is everything once thought.

"The way we are playing, doing the right things and staying with the details is the biggest thing. We've got to continue to play hard and use our legs to create things," Stepan told Blueshirts United after the three-point outing gave him seven points over the last three.
"First of all we had a good forecheck and kept our legs moving. Second of all, when we get the puck, guys are confident to make a play. We are winning the battles, getting in their first, and I think that's how we created our goals," Gaborik pointed out after notching his team-leading eighth and ninth markers along with an assist. Gaborik is tied with Claude Giroux, Joe Pavelski and James Neal for fifth in goals behind league leader Phil Kessel (11) with Thomas Vanek, Sens' goalscorer Milan Michalek and Steven Stamkos placing second with 10 each.
Considering that I missed the game due to work, it was nice to see our team respond to Michalek's 10th after he dusted Jeff Woywitka to open the scoring early in the second. Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson drew assists. Less than a minute later, Stepan and Gaborik combined on the aforementioned nice set up with No.10 finishing it off. Not long after that, an aggressive forecheck from Anisimov behind the Sens' net allowed him to steal the puck, walk out in front and force a scrambling Craig Anderson to make a save. With the American vet out of position, Stepan snuck in and backhanded the rebound into an open side for his third.

Despite getting outshot 21-11 through two periods, the Blueshirts led by one entering the third. Back in net, Henrik Lundqvist was sharp finishing with 29 saves for his fifth win of the season. The King got more support when the GAS Line combined for Gaborik's second of the night thanks in large part to ultimate warrior Dan Girardi, who logged 28 big minutes. Enough can't be said about Danny G, who always seems to be in the right spot. If he's not blocking shots, he's making a smart defensive play like the one that turned into an odd-man rush with Anisimov skating it out before getting it to Stepan, who then headmanned Gaborik on a two-on-one. Gabby patiently waited, faked pass and then roofed one top shelf. The great play turned out to be the game-decider with Nick Foligno making it interesting late.

"I think we have high confidence right now, and we need to grow this confidence every game to play even better as a line," Anisimov explained after his pair of assists improved him to six points in three. The third-year Russian has emerged from a sluggish start to lead the Blueshirts with eight helpers. "We need to keep an eye on the back of each other. If someone makes a mistake let's come back and go hard for him."


BONY 3 Stars:

3rd Star: Artem Anisimov, NYR (2 assists, plus Broadway Hat)
2nd Star: Derek Stepan, NYR (goal-3rd, 2 helpers)
1st Star: Marian Gaborik, NYR (2 goals-8th/9th, assist)


Notes: There were two scraps with little used Sean Avery battling former Isle Zenon Konopka while Andre Deveaux took on Jared Cowen. We'll try to find video of each and get it up. ... Newest Ranger Anton Stralman skated with the team today at practice. Might he make his debut tomorrow? ... Brandon Dubinsky remains without a goal in the first 14. That along with the lack of finish from Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust remains the only drawback.

This Staal's Clean: The Rangers have won five straight improving to 8-3-3. They return to MSG tomorrow to battle Eric Staal's Hurricanes. Some have discussed it as a revenge game for the hit Eric laid on brother Marc Staal, who remains sidelined with PCS. However, it was clean and at the end of a period. Just from some of the quotes the elder Staal had about his brother the other day, it has really affected him. Though it's hard to explain his minus-16 rating these days. Our team needs to treat it like any other game. Carolina fell to the Devils the other night and aren't playing well. But they still boast hot shot super soph Jeff Skinner along with Staal, plus Cam Ward. At the end of the year, they'll probably be there. The Blueshirts can't take them lightly before traveling north of the border to Toronto for a Saturday Hockey Night In Canada showdown with the Leafs.

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