The Blueshirts had one of their best performances of the season tonight but couldn’t overcome the loss of their top two centers and incredible goaltending by Mikka Kiprusoff during a hard fought and physical contest won by the Flames 3-1.
Chris Drury left the game only 49 seconds in when Calgary’s Curtis Glencross blindsided him with a cheapshot that is sure to lead to a suspension for the winger. Drury was helped from the ice and was later reported to have suffered a concussion as a result of the dirty hit. The Flames jumped out early on a deflected shot by Daymond Langkow that beat Stephen Valiquette. The Rangers would even the score with under three minutes to go in the first period when Dan Girardi’s wrist shot from the point slipped past a screened Kiprusoff.
The second period was back and forth and physical with both teams finishing their checks and aggressively forechecking on both ends. The Rangers, already without Drury, would lose Brandon Dubinsky when he blocked a slapshot with his right arm. There is no official word on his injury as of yet but it looked like he hurt his wrist/forearm. The Flames would take the lead on a Jarome Iginla power play goal that came off a great pass from former Ranger Nigel Dawes at 16:47 of the second. The Rangers had some great scoring chances in the second but Kiprusoff was impenetrable robbing Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan on back to back shots during a power play.
It was more of the same during the third as Kiprusoff repeatedly stoned the Rangers and kept his team in the lead. Rene Bourque would put the finishing touches on the win for the Flames when he beat Valiquette with a shot deflected off Girardi’s stick late in the third.
Thumbs Up- Vinny Prospal, Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins all continued their string of solid performances as of late and accounted for many of the Rangers’ quality offensive chances. Marc Staal had a wonderful game and held Iginla in check at even strength throughout the contest. Marian Gaborik didn’t score but had at least 4 quality chances in the second period and was a victim of great goaltending by Kiprusoff.
Thumbs Down- Michal Roszival has become the worst player on the team. He has not made an impact offensively at all this season and his defense has been spotty at best. There is no way that he can be allowed to remain with this club at the NHL level if he continues to play the kind of uninspired, terrible hockey he has played so far this season.
Three Stars- 3- Marc Staal- Another solid performance defensively against one of the league’s most dangerous players.
2- Ales Kotalik- Kotalik’s bombs from the point on the power play are a thing of beauty and he was a crossbar away from adding to his impressive body of work so far this season.
1- Vinny Prospal- Prospal is continuously the Rangers most active player and has made an impact offensively in almost every game this season. He collected another assist on the Blueshirts’ lone goal and even showed some physical edge in his battles along the boards tonight. Another good performance from the season’s biggest surprise.
The Rangers return home to face the Atlanta Thrashers at MSG on Thursday.