For the optimistic Rangers fan, Tuesday night’s 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks was a great way for the Blueshirts to get a tally in the left side of the Win/Loss column. After all, there were several areas where the Rangers (1-1-2) excelled in that the optimistic fan can be proud of.
They can bask in how amazing Henrik Lundqvist played between the pipes; turning away all 40 shots the Canucks fired his way. They can be impressed of how well the penalty kill unit played, going a perfect eight-for-eight against one of the most potent power plays in the entire NHL.
They can even hang their hats on how the Rangers were finally able to find secondary scoring; Mike Rupp snapped the 0-0 deadlock early into the third period, scoring his first goal as a Ranger. Brian Boyle also scored his first goal of the year, while Brandon Prust recorded two assists.
The optimistic Rangers fan can also be excited that Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik continued to develop chemistry together, as the duo combined on the Rangers’ fourth goal, when Gaborik netted his third goal of the year.
Yes, for the optimistic Rangers fan, it was a gritty, resilient, hard-fought victory over a team that came one game away from being crowned Stanley Cup champions just a few short months ago.
It was a great way for the Rangers to embark on their four-game voyage across Canada, before eventually returning home to a newly-renovated Madison Square Garden for the first time this season, returning the favor to our Northern Neighbor when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The ship has begun to right the course for the optimistic Rangers fan.
Then, on the other side of the coin, there’s pessimistic; bitter; cynical; same-old-story Rangers fan.
For this discouraged
realistic group of Garden inhabitants, the stats remain the same, but the GPS took them on an alternate route to the 4-0 outcome.
They saw Lundqvist make 40 saves. However, not only did they see him stop puck after puck fired at him; they saw the defense allow second, third and even fourth opportunity chances thrown his way. They saw Erik Christensen set up a barbecue and open up a six-pack of cold ones in front of the net while he watched Alex Burrows skate right by him and rip a point-blank shot on his goaltender.
These fans know the only reason the Rangers were able to grab the 1-0 lead early into the third period, rather than entering the final 20 minutes trailing by at least five goals, was because King Henrik was bailing his teammates out at every corner–a theme that’s become the norm for New York.
The cynical observer didn’t see a perfect eight-for-eight with a man down. No, they saw a team that leads the NHL with penalty minutes per-game (23.2 PIM/G), continue to play an undisciplined game in all areas of the ice.
They watched one of the Rangers’ best penalty killers in Prust, take a bone-headed holding-the-stick penalty while deep in the offensive zone.
After killing off Prust’s penalty, rather than playing a smarter, more disciplined game while watching Prust sitting at the end of the bench for nearly the entire second period, the Rangers decided to rattle off another five-consecutive minor penalties.
Sure, even the most contemptuous fan could agree that the Rangers finally tapped into their secondary scoring, right?
Well, they can also point a finger at the lack of offense that was evident for the entire game.
Here’s a stat to put that into perspective: the Canucks had 11 shots on goal while on the power play–the Rangers had nine shots total through the first 40 minutes.
It wasn’t until Roberto Luongo decided he wanted to donate the game to Rangers, that the Blueshirts were able to sustain any form of offensive prowess.
Unlike Lundqvist, who snuck into the Rogers Arena and robbed the Vancouver fans blind of a victory, Luongo was in the Holiday spirit early; giving a victory away for free in a gift-wrapped box to the Rangers, only stopping six of the 10 shots he faced in the third.
The only positive that both the cynical and Utopian Rangers fan can probably agree on, is the emergence of defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
McDonagh, in his second NHL season, continued to play brilliantly on both sides of the ice for the Rangers.
The former first-round pick notched a goal and assist, while logging over 24 minutes of ice time. The 22-year-old sophomore–along with Dan Girardi–has been playing a large role for the Rangers in the absence of both Marc Staal and Michael Sauer.
If the Rangers plan being a legitimate contender for the Cup this season, they are going to have allow both their optimistic and pessimistic followers to arrive at the boxscore on the same route.
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