Forgive me if I'm wrong here, but the last time the New York Rangers
looked this complete at both ends of the ice is probably back in 1994. The
New York Rangers made the 2001-2002 Eastern Conference Champions look more
like an expansion team. For the first time in a long time, the Rangers
actually looked like a team on the ice, and not just bunch of individuals
looking to steal a paycheck, or catch a free ride on Broadway.
Bobby Holik, who was brought in here for his 2-way style of play and to
take pressure off of Eric Lindros, had a quiet, but solid game playing
good defense and winning some key face-offs in his own zone. Darius
Kasparaitis, another free agent brought in here during the off-season, hit
everything that came his way, and also played great defense with Vladimir
Brian Leetch, also had a great game both offensively and defensively,
as he racked up 2 assists in last night's game. But the keyword here is
"Defense". Not only did the Rangers produce offensively without
Pavel Bure in the lineup in last night's 4-1 victory over the Carolina
Hurricanes, but they took care of their own zone. Something which the
Rangers have failed to execute in the past 5 years. For the first time in
a long time, Mike Richter (who faced only 21 shots in last night's game)
made 20 saves, and earned his 297th career victory. He didn't have to
stand on his head to keep the puck out of the net, or deal with more
rubber than a NASCAR track. That in itself is amazing considering that the
Rangers had to kill off 9 penalties, which in the past 5 years would have
most definitely led to a Rangers loss.
But the Rangers penalty killing got the job done, the Players got the
job done, and the new Coaching Staff, led by Rookie Head Coach Brian
Trottier, has seemed to have finally got the message across. Defense leads
to offense, and defense wins games.
Offensively, The Rangers looked good. Mark Messier scored the
first 2 goals of the game. Skating and looking like the Messier of old.
Peter Nedved, Who also scored 2 goals, Looked much better playing the wing
along side of Lindros, who played great defensively, and also chipped in
with 2 assists.
Nedved, Who was booed constantly last season at the Garden, crashed the
net, and got his shot the puck on net. Something he didn't do last season.
Tom Poti also played a good game offensively racking up 2 assists, but
needs to work on his defense. Jamie Lundmark didn't really see a lot of
ice-time, but did play solid with the minutes he received during last
David Gokhshtein For Outside The Garden
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