‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
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Marian Gaborik’s game-winning goal in overtime lifted the gloom hanging over the New York Rangers. The Rangers are finally beginning to resemble a dominant team once again, much to the relief of their fans who were scratching their heads over their 0-2 start.
Their locker room was full of relieved faces after earning their first victory of the season. Things are finally clicking into place for the Blueshirts, and Gaborik had provided the exclamation point.
“Obviously, to get that first one out of the way was good for us,” Rangers assistant captain Marc Staal explained. “Now, we just need to keep on going. (It’s) more the relief of getting that good feeling — that confident, winning feel back.”
Gaborik and first-line winger Rick Nash tormented Bruins’ defensemen with their speed, sharp puck movement, creativity and strength on the puck. It appears to be a sign of things to come.
“Tonight it was clicking great; they were playing well away from the puck, too,” defenseman Dan Girardi said. “If they play like that, they’re going to create a lot of chances for us.”
“They were incredible tonight,” Staal stated. “They’re both a threat to score and both a threat to give a good pass, so it’s tough to defend those guys. That whole line was awesome all night. They controlled the puck for a lot of their shifts.”
Pyatt Earning Trust Of Teammates, Tortorella
Another player who stuck out on Wednesday night was Taylor Pyatt, who used his big frame to cause traffic in front of the Bruins’ net and was rewarded for his efforts when he shoveled home an important goal midway through the second period.
Girardi believes that Pyatt is an ideal fit for the Rangers’ system, as he causes havoc in front of opposing goaltenders’ nets.
“I think Pysie played a great game,” Girardi said. “He’s a big, strong guy. In a system like ours, that’s where he’s going to thrive. Finishing checks, holding pucks down low. He’s such a big body, it’s hard to get him off the puck. He scored a really, really huge goal for us there. So far, he’s been unbelievable for us. He’s going to play this way for the rest of the year, I think.”
John Tortorella described Pyatt as “deceptive, consistent and effective.”
“He’s played well,” Tortorella said in Wednesday’s postgame press conference. “I worry sometimes about the speed of the game, but he’s deceptive. He’s been one of our most consistent players in being around the puck. Sometimes, I don’t think he’s going to get down the ice, but he ends up getting there. He’s been a pretty effective player for us.”
Tortorella opted to promote Pyatt to the second line, sacrificing Chris Kreider’s minutes.
“We put him up on the second line there, and he contributed for us with a big goal,” Tortorella stated. “He’s done some good things for us, (and) he’s probably one of our most consistent players.”
Staal felt that Michael Del Zotto displayed his best attributes against the Bruins.
“I thought we had a good game together,” Staal explained. “We were talking, had lots of communication and it opened up room for him to get creative and do what he does best. He did a good job of that tonight.”
Staal gave up his body to block a Zdeno Chara slap shot on a first period penalty kill. All night, the Rangers were throwing themselves in front of speeding pucks. They blocked 25 shots compared to the Bruins’ nine blocked shots. Staal was no worse for wear as he explained:
“It wasn’t too bad, I actually got it in not a bad spot,” Staal said. “I got it right in the back here, so there’s a lot more padding in your skate than you would think. It just numbed my foot for a bit. I don’t think it bruised.”
Nash didn’t quite experience being part of a team as committed to shot-blocking while in Columbus.
“It’s impressive — they have that identity of (being) one of the toughest teams to get shots against, because everyone is committed to blocking shots,” Nash said. “It definitely helps win games.
Shot blocking is vital to what the Rangers are trying to accomplish on an every-game basis, as Girardi explained.
“It sums up our team,” Girardi stated. “It doesn’t matter if it was Chara’s 110 mile-per-hour slap shot; we’re getting in front of the puck no matter who’s shooting. Around the room, Torts expects everyone to do what Marc did. That’s how we win games most of the time.”
Kreider On A Very Short Leash
One Ranger under the microscope is Kreider, who had his minutes slashed to 7:21 against the Bruins.
Tortorella benched Kreider for the majority of the second and third periods after he committed a number of turnovers. In Tortorella’s press conference, he spoke openly about the possibility of sending Kreider to the AHL. In the early hours of Thursday morning, the Rangers announced that they called up Kris Newbury from the Connecticut Whale. No corresponding move has been made.
Later on Thursday, the Rangers acquired versatile forward Benn Ferriero from the Pittsburgh Penguins for winger Chad Kolarik. Ferriero is considered a high-energy player, and he fits the Tortorella mold. He’s not a point-getter, but is very energetic and a graceful skater.
The Rangers’ head coach seemed protective of Kreider in his postgame press conference.
“What’s best for Chris and us — we have to make a decision here,” Tortorella said. “I don’t want him in a situation here with the scrutiny on this club, as far as the process. We need to be really careful with how we’re dealing with a kid with a number of assets, to make sure that the process is correct for him. So those are discussions we’re going to have to have.”
Tortorella wants what’s best in the long run for Kreider — whose talents are apparent — but he’s going through a difficult time.
“I’ve seen players ruined because you put them in a situation and they just struggle and don’t succeed, and they never come out of it and they’re done, they’re out of the game,” Tortorella explained. “I don’t want to see that happen to him.”
For the moment, Kreider will travel with the team to Philadelphia. It remains to be seen whether Tortorella will gamble by giving a player short on confidence minutes against the Flyers on Thursday. The leash is very short and Kreider could find himself playing in Connecticut in the near future.
Are the Rangers looking closer to the finished product? Do you expect Kreider to be sent down to Connecticut? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.