NEW YORK – Maybe it’s a rule when a team named the Jets plays in New York, they just can’t score.
Or maybe the Rangers saw the week long All-Star break as a way to just let it all out and pulled a Christmas Eve Giant-like performance against the the poor Winnipeg Jets.
No matter what it was, there were very few chances for the J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets with the Blueshirts looking like Big Blue and winning 3-0.
“We didn’t want a letdown after Boston,” said center Brad Richards. “Looking ahead to the break, it was one of those games where you really wanted to bear down. We had a few breakdowns, but (Henrik Lundqvist) was there for that, We just are doing what we were supposed to do.”
Actually they were better, out shooting the Jets 31-22, the Rangers kept pressuring the goalie Ondrej Pavelec with shots and looked for opportune rebounds. And once a period from Ryan Callahan, John Mitchell, and Richards respectively, the Blueshirt lit the lamp.
That was enough for Lundqvist, who was pressed into action because Martin Biron had the flu. The King – before taking his royal residence up in Ottawa for the weekend – needed to hold court at the Garden one last time.
And now he has his 40th shutout, which puts him second behind Eddie Giocomin (49) for on the All-Time Ranger list.
“More importantly, we got the two points going into the break,” said Lundqvist,the ever the team guy. “Guys can go and relax and enjoy themselves, save some energy and come back really excited for what’s ahead of us. It was important to co end it strong here. I think we came out and really set the whole tone for the whole game.”
The Rangers, are playing with the same style which had put them at the top of the conference. They forecheck well and fight for the pucks. And their passing has improved. More importantly, they are consistent. And they respond to adversity.
“I think that’s the difference between this year’s team and the year’s past,” said defenseman Dan Girardi, who is going to the All-Star game for the first time this Saturday. “I think the way we responded with the losses is to come right back and get the win. Not lose two or three in a row.”
That’s been coach John Tortorella’s motto and even though he doesn’t care where the Rangers sit in the standings, he does like how his team got there.
But he offered some caution.
“The league is going to get better and the tempo is going to get better,” Tortorella said. “It not only gets to be a quicker game, but we cannot stop working on our parts of our game. We spend a lot of time on the details of it and we cannot stop working ad getting better at that stuff because teams will pass you. You look at the standings, there are a lot of winning teams, and if you don’t stay on top of yourself and just work each and every day on the details of how we play , and remain true to our identity, there will be some struggles.”
Rex Ryan’s Jets learned that this season and Tom Coughlin preached that to the Giants.
And all season long that’s what kept the Rangers at the top of the NHL.