NEW YORK – Believe it not Ranger fans, no matter how bad your team has played over the first half of the season, there’s eight other Eastern squads that have played worse.
And you know what eighth place means – playoffs.
“Yeah you win a few games during the week,” said Christopher Higgins, “and you move up three places in the standings.”
Even though the 2009 portion of the season, wasn’t up to Hoyle, John Tortorella’s team is, at least, treading water and if the Rangers can pull off more wins like tonight’s 3-2 comebacker against the Bruins, then maybe there will be a postseason in the picture in 2010.
The Rangers fought hard off the puck. They took the body to the board, and the goals they scored came from the sources the team hoped would become their secondary scorers after Marian Gaborik.
First, Ales Kotalik scored his first goal in almost two months when he rifled one in from the point on the power play at 9:58 of the first. And Erik Christensen was able to score his first at the Garden at 7:34 of the second when Michael Del Zotto was able to shoot one down the ice to Brandon Dubinsky, who hit Christensen to knock it past Tuukka Rask, who stopped 32 on the night.
“It was the first goal I ever scored in this building,” Christensen said. “It has been fun playing these last few games with [Brandon Dubinsky] and Gaborik. It’s a big boost to the confidence and we had a perfect breakout there.
“It was a perfect play by Dubi, because he brought the defense in. It was electrifying.”
What was even more electrifying was Higgins gamewinner. After the Rangers gave up the lead in less than a minute and a half late in the third on a shorthander by Matt Hunwick and an even strength tally from Blake Wheeler, the scoring-scarce Higgins was able to poke one past Rask for his first Garden goal since he opened MSG after the lockout as a member of the Canadiens back on October 6, 2005 in the Rangers 4-3 overtime loss to the Habs.
“Points have been difficult to come by for guys around here, including myself, so to be able to contribute feels good,” Higgins said. “It was my first goal here since my first game with the Canadiens, so it’s been a while.”
And it’s been some time since the Rangers looked this good. Henrik Lundqvist was his usual self stopping 26, although he probably would want the two that went in back. Yet, with his team scoring three, the netminder felt good about his chances.
“When we score three goals, we are going to have a good chance, no question,” Lundqvist said. “We had some guys, who haven’t been scoring for awhile, step up scoring some big goals. That is huge, because Gabby can’t score them all. It’s a crucial tie right now. It’s a big month. It is important to get everyone going.”