Monday December 26th, 2011 – Final Score: Rangers 3 – Islanders 0
The New York Rangers’ extend their win streak to 5 games with a convincing victory against the division rival New York Islanders. Henrik Lundqvist was dominant in net stopping all 28 shots to earn his 3rd shutout of the season. Four of the past five wins have come against division opponents and tonight’s win moves New York past Boston for 1st place in the Eastern Conference with 48 points and a 22-8-4 record.
Carl Hagelin was the offensive story, scoring 2 goals in a game for the first time in his young career. Both goals were assisted by resurgent defenseman Michael Del Zotto who now leads the team in +/- with a plus 25 rating which also ties him for second in the NHL. Hagelin has demonstrated his game changing speed since his call up just over a dozen games ago, but tonight’s goals came from around the net looking for rebounds. It’s nice to see the skilled rookie asserting himself near the enemy goal. The only other goal was an empty netter by Marian Gaborik who got to extend his goal scoring streak to 5 games with the freebie.
On the defensive end it was another excellent team effort. The Rangers’ blocked a lot of shots tonight, 19 in total, to help Lundqvist lock down the shutout. You just can’t praise the defenseman enough. The quality minutes that Anton Strahlman, Tim Erixon and Stu Bickel have been able to give with 4 of the teams top 7 defensemen out has been key in the teams continued success. Obviously someone sits for Marc Staal when he comes back, probably young Tim Erixon, but I do not envy John Tortorellas’ job of choosing the final two out of Mike Sauer, Steve Eminger, Jeff Woywitka, Stu Bickel and Anton Strahlman. No one has played their way out, and what good defensive depth to be developing for a team that hopes to make a playoff impact.
The Blueshirts start a 3 game road trip on Wednesday against the Washington Capitals then travel to Florida to face the Panthers before returning north to face the Flyers in the Winter Classic on January 2nd.
- Both teams went 0 for 3 on the powerplay.
- Face-offs were 50/50 with both teams winning 25
- And wouldn’t you know, hits were 31/31…
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