The Rangers caught a break in not facing All Star netminder Roberto Luongo on their visit to Vancouver but they were unable to find any rhythm on offense once again and couldn’t take advantage as the Canucks got a superb performance from Andrew Raycroft and beat the Blueshirts 4-1.
In a game where the Canucks totally shut down Marian Gaborik by matching lines and making sure defenseman Willie Mitchell was on the ice every time Gaborik left the bench, The Rangers could only muster one goal (Christopher Higgins’ long awaited first tally with the team) and couldn’t solve Raycroft despite a 4 minute power play in the second period and some great scoring chances early in the third before the Canucks took control. The Rangers found themselves watching the play and out of position on Rick Rypien’s goal to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish. Henrik Lundqvist had a strong first two periods but a late goal by Mikael Samuelsson (his 2nd of the game) all but wrapped up the victory.
Thumbs Up- Dane Byers showed a willingness to stick up for his teammates (something lacking this season even with Donald Brashear on the roster). Marc Staal and Dan Girardi had solid games and Wade Redden continued to play strong on the boards. Vinny Prospal did not score in his first game with the “A” but was all over the ice and never stopped moving.
Thumbs Down- Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov both had great chances one on one with Raycroft and couldn’t score. Michal Roszival continued his sloppy play. Marian Gaborik was a complete non factor.
Three Stars- 3- Sean Avery- Avery may have been the responsible party on the Canucks second goal but for the first time in a few weeks, he played with an edge and used his mouth to rile up the opposition. Safe Avery is not a factor, Pesky Avery can make a difference and he did tonight (unfortunately the team couldn’t capitalize)
2- Christopher Higgins- Higgins mirrored the feeling of all Rangers fans when he looked towards the heavens following his long awaited first goal of the season. He played his third straight strong game and was a factor on the penalty kill. He probably earned more time with the top line until Enver Lisin returns.
1- Ales Kotalik- Kotalik didn’t score but he was all over the ice tonight. His blasts from the point were the best scoring chances the Rangers had through two periods and he was strong on the backcheck in his own end. A solid all around performance.
The Rangers next game will be against the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday.