The New York Rangers shutout the St. Louis Blues 5-0 at Madison Square Garden. For a box score, click here.
On Sunday night, I thought I was dreaming. Tonight I don’t even know what to think. The Lightning and Blues are no slouches and the Rangers made them look like two teams who would be vying for number one picks in June. I had hope for this team but I don’t think anyone expected this. Yes it’s still early but this team has the potential to be something really special.
Before the game, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said the Rangers had “one of the best transition teams that I’ve seen”. After the game, he said “That’s a hell of a team and they gave us a hell of a lesson. They’re playing great team hockey and they expose any weakness you have.” Teams see what the Rangers are doing. It will be interesting to see which team finally stops them. Obviously it won’t be the Blues.
It started halfway through the opening frame when the Rangers turned a shorthanded situation into 4-on-4 play, allowing Chris Kreider (who looked like he hadn’t missed a step in his return to the lineup) to find a wide open Dan Girardi who rifled one from the blue line to get the scoring started. Less than two minutes later Jimmy Vesey had his sixth of the year on a beautiful passing play with Stepan and Skjei and the home team was rolling.
Obviously not all goals are pretty and Rick Nash got a dirty one early in the second as he somehow bounced one off of Allen from behind the net to make it 3-0. Six minutes later, Zuccarello added one on the power play and Allen’s night was done. With less than two minutes to go, the Rangers would add this goal to close out the scoring:
Can’t get much prettier than that.
Of course there can’t all be good news as the home team had a few injury scares. In the first period, Ryan McDonagh was hit with a high stick near the eye. I’m not sure if he was trying to skate back to the bench or the door to the locker room but while hunched over, he missed both and ended up skating right into the glass. Fortunately he was okay (so I’m assuming that means we can laugh at this). Then in the second period, Derek Stepan got sandwiched between two Blues players and went down hard. He would end up in the locker room for concussion protocol but fortunately was able to return as well. That said, we all know that luck won’t hold up so please keep your heads up boys.
But other than that, not much to complain about tonight. Hard to complain when Henrik Lundqvist gets his 60th career shutout.
To me, more important than the goals was the defensive play. The good news is the defense is starting to look like the six-man unit Rangers fans were used to seeing before last season. Even better part is the forwards are helping in the defensive zone too. Up and down the lineup, everyone is playing their part. And the upcoming schedule should allow this to continue for at least a couple of weeks. First up? A match-up with Cam Talbot and the Oilers at MSG on Thursday night. That should be an interesting one.