Kevin Mizera wrote Sunday about the split personality of this year’s Rangers team. Well, there was no question about which New York Rangers squad showed up Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden against the Montreal Canadiens. With their 5-0 victory over the Habs, the Rangers have not just won two in a row, but they have also strung together back-to-back shutouts for the first time in over a decade.
Consistency, or lack thereof, has been a recurring theme for the Blueshirts in the early going of the 2014-15 campaign. The Rangers have time and time again followed up big wins with embarrassing losses which have featured no offensive presence, and defensive breakdowns on all levels, crushing any thoughts of a possible “awakening.” Those losses have in turn sent the Rangers back to square one, scrambling for answers as to what went wrong.
But that was not the Rangers team that came to play on Sunday. In their matchup against Montreal, the team that Alain Vigneault knows – when playing the right way – is capable of skating with any team in the league was dialed in, on point, and ready to play.
The Rangers were the beneficiaries of an offensive explosion, as well as a defensive effort which suffocated Montreal for a large portion of the contest. New York limited the Canadiens to just 21 shots on goal, had 15 takeaways compared to Montreal’s three, and received solid goaltending between the pipes from Henrik Lundqvist, who recorded his eighth win, and fourth shutout of the year.
It was a fruitful night offensively, as all four of the Rangers’ lines found the back of the net. Dominic Moore, Derek Stepan, Martin St. Louis, Carl Hagelin, and Rick Nash were the goal scorers for New York, and better yet, there was not one of the 12 forwards for the Rangers who failed to register a point in the win. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time that happened for the Rangers was December 17th, 1980 against the Winnipeg Jets.
The fourth line, and Tanner Glass in particular, which has come under fire thus far this season, also had a stand out performance. With a goal on Sunday and a number of quality shifts in which they generated some sustained pressure in the offensive zone, the Glass-Moore-Fast line had arguably the most complete, well-rounded effort a Rangers fourth line combination has had this season.
Stunning as this may sound, Sunday’s win was just the second time this season the Blueshirts have strung together two regulation wins in a row. There is still a long way to go, and a lot to prove until then, but the Rangers took one step forward on Sunday, and are now one game closer to putting the early season consistency woes behind them.
MSL: “You always feel you are as good as your last game. For us tonight we have to go back and try to earn it again and back it up.”
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) November 24, 2014
It was a rare occasion that the Rangers finally put together a full 60 minute effort following a win, and that is consistency in its smallest capacity. Martin St. Louis knows, though, that it’s just one game, and that just as they did on Sunday, the Rangers will again have to back up this latest win when they hit the ice on Wednesday, in Tampa Bay against the Lightning.