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BERT GARDINER
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Markus Naslund was one of three successful shooters last night for the Rangers

Torts Takes Aim At Shootouts
Posted by Toby Ivey ≡ 9:40:03 AM - March 18, 2009

While shootouts appear to be here to stay - thankfully for the Rangers as evidenced last night - there's still a few holdouts - aside from Sammye that is. Coach John Tortorella still doesn't like the format according to Newsday and Bergen Record. Torts told Steve Zipay of Newsday "I've never liked it. It's a team sport for 65 minutes, then turns into an individual contest. But I don't make the rules. I just abide by them."

While Tortorella may be one of the last vocal hold outs with respect to the shootout, there are still plenty who would argue that the three point game - an extra point for the OT/Shootout loss - is distorting the tables. According to NHLShootout.com the league has averaged a pretty flat 22-23% of games going to shootouts, that's almost a quarter of games in the league distributing an extra point.

Regardless of your preference, the win last night over Montreal did put the Rangers in a solid position with respect to the playoff picture, jumping the Canadiens to take over #6. With eleven games remaining on their schedule, they now sit four points ahead of the #9 Panthers, and six ahead of the #10 Sabres - both teams have a game in hand.

The result of last night's battle also means the Canadiens are a little more vulnerable, having been pushed down to seventh spot in the East.

As we mentioned yesterday, the Bell Centre has not been a favorite - or should that be favourite? - place for goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Through the majority of two periods last night it looked like he'd finally overcome his demons there, making several strong saves, particularly while the Rangers were shorthanded. All that work almost came undone in the third however, thanks to a bad angle goal that beat the Swede high on the post side.

Aside from a stop on Andrei Kotsitsyn, he didn't look so hot in the shootout either. Maybe the lingering effects of his stomach virus were still in play...or maybe he really just doesn't like playing against Montreal.

One of the new Rangers, Nik Antropov, is enjoying playing meaningful games late in the season. Antropov told the Sun that the Rangers are "really close", something he didn't experience in Toronto the last year or two - certainly there's a correlation between success and closeness.

And what do you know? The Philadelphia Inquirer and people in Philadelphia are still apparently distracted by Sean Avery.

Down in the ECHL, the Checkers also won in a shootout, defeating the Florida Everblades 3-2. Rangers prospect Ryan Hillier picking up the primary assist on the Checkers' second goal.


Profile of the Author:
Has been an active follower of the New York Rangers since the 1996-97 season. Began OutsideTheGarden.com in 2001, and has continued to collect data and provide analysis on the team through to the current day.

 Additional stories from Toby Ivey:


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