NEW YORK – It’s been a very long time since the Rangers crashed the nets like the did last night. And it’s been a very long time since they have been so well conditioned that they dominated the third period.
The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t know what hit them.
So much so that the Blueshirts scored four third period goals, including two by Sean Avery, to lead the team to a 7-2 laugher.
“We came out and had a good first period. I think with any team you get that comfortable mindset,” Avery said. “Torts told us before the game, great teams are the teams that stay consistent no matter what the score is or who you are playing. I think we pulled our socks up and came out and had a good third.”
Besides the two by Avery, Dan Girardi scored two and Wade Redden had a goal with two assists. As the Rangers were in control for almost the whole game.
Yet, that’s what good teams do against inferior opponents. Much like a mismatched college football game, John Tortorella’s team ran up the score and kept the pressure going, even with the game pretty much in hand. The Rangers were able to outstate their opponents due to being well conditioned, especially after the really tough training camp the coach put his team through.
“We have had some good third periods and we had another one tonight and I think the conditioning had something to do with it,” Tortorella said. “That is an important part, finishing the game. We felt we were fortunate, Hank made some good saves there in the second. We just wanted to get back on the attack and try to play in their end zone. I don’t know if it is conditioning related but we had another good third period so that is good news.”
“Some of that is going through the hard camp we went through,” said Rangers captain Chris Drury. “You don’t go through a hard camp and come out on the other side as mentally and physically demanding as it was, it forces you to come together. You can’t do it alone.”
And that’s the difference in these Rangers, they don’t rely upon just a few guys. Everyone gets involved. Ten different Rangers had points in last night’s match coming from forwards and defensemen. No matter who is on the ice, the team always feels they have a chance to score.
Part of that is the system Tortorella put in place, which emphasizes the backliners joining into the play when they see a chance. As a result Girardi and Redden had three of the seven goals, and since the beginning of the season, all of the defensemen have gotten involved, while also improving on keeping pucks out of the net.
“Our defensive game actually improved,” said Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who had 27 saves on the night. “It is tougher for teams to create scoring chances, I think, when we stay aggressive, when we play the way we want to play. We can see that already last year when Torts came in and we changed our style of play. It is tougher for teams to create chances. When we play the way we play, we are great offensively and defensively. It has been good. They have done a great job the last couple of games.”
So much so that the Rangers are on a roll and look very tough to beat right now.
Notes: The main event happened at 10:18 of the night when former Ranger enforcer Colton Orr met current tough guy Donald Brashear. The fight went to the judges and it came out to be a draw…The last time the Rangers scored seven goals was back on April 1, 2007 (no fooling) also against the Toronto Maple Leafs…The Blueshirts complete their three game home stand on Wednesday as the team takes on the Los Angeles Kings.