The Rangers began their post Olympic push for the playoffs, minus injured stars Marian Gaborik and Michael Del Zotto, by disposing of the Ottawa Senators 4-1 at Scotia Bank Place tonight. After falling behind 1-0, the Blueshirts roared back with a 4 goal second period keyed by Ryan Callahan, who scored twice. Henrik Lundqvist was nearly flawless in goal making 24 saves to record his 25th win of the season.
Thumbs Up- Enver Lisin, who was put on waivers earlier in the day, had his best game in over a month and obviously used the situation as a motivational tool. Erik Christensen continued his strong play assisting on 2 goals and playing an impressive two way game. Brandon Dubinsky was a factor all over the ice, playing a physical contest and also scoring the go ahead goal during the second period offensive outburst. Chris Drury kept his recent string of inspiring play alive with another huge performance on the penalty kill. Corey Potter impressed with his steady play.
Thumbs Down- Jody Shelley was about as effective as Donald Brashear has been so far this season as he looked lost during a matchup that didn’t call for much physical play. Olli Jokinen had a pedestrian effort coming off a very strong showing in Vancouver. Dan Girardi, who has been the subject of numerous trade rumors, did nothing to make Glen Sather think twice about including him should the right deal come along before 3 PM tomorrow.
3- Sean Avery- “The Grate One” looked rested and ready following the break and was able to find his edge without going overboard. His hard work on the forecheck and his willingness to crash the net paid off early in the second period when he scored off a beautiful feed from Enver Lisin to give the Blueshirts a 3 goal cushion. A late scrum with Matt Cullen, which followed Cullen’s mistimed attempt at a body check and possible elbow to Avery’s head, finished Avery’s night a few minutes early but served notice that he is ready for what promises to be a rough and tumble run for the postseason.
2- Henrik Lundqvist- Lundvist led all Olympic netminders in Goals Against Average (1.34) and shutouts (2) and looked very solid between the pipes in his return to the Blueshirts. While the Senators did not mount the kind of offensive attack you would expect from a squad featuring Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Alex Kovalev, Lundqvist made the few tough chances he had look effortless and was the biggest reason that the Rangers picked up two important points on the road.
1- Ryan Callahan- Callahan was all over the ice tonight and took over the game during a raucous second period in which he not only got the Rangers even with a beautiful rush and top shelf goal to start the onslaught at :22 of the frame but also giving the team a 2 goal lead by slipping a backhanded rebound past sprawling Senators backstop Brian Elliot at the 17 minute mark. Without Gaborik in the lineup, the Rangers needed someone to step up and lead the offensive and tonight Ryan Callahan made himself that person, showing once again why he wears the “A” and why he is one of the few “untouchables” on the squad as the trade deadline nears.