That exclamation could of course be applied to several aspects of last
night's 4-1 win over the visiting Washington Capitals.
Finally the Rangers ended their seven-game losing streak.
Finally the Rangers stood up for each other, with four
fights including one between Brendan Shanahan and Donald Brashear.
Finally the Rangers took care of the Capitals (in
regulation time no less), after years of indecisive play against them
and taking them too lightly. Okay, so they did beat them on
opening night, but this has been a team that has given the Rangers
trouble over the past few seasons despite the mismatch on paper.
Finally the Rangers beat a team they should've beaten
while they were down.
Finally Petr Prucha scored a goal...two in fact.
Finally it was the other team that
had the flu, and not the Rangers.
Finally the Rangers won a game
without Marek Malik...they are now 3-11-2 lifetime without Malik in
Finally we saw good games by the likes of Thomas Pock,
Colton Orr, Darius Kasparaitis and Petr Prucha.
Finally Darius Kasparaitis scored a goal...well it was
actually his second in seven games, but how often to you get a chance to
say that he scored a goal?
Finally Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers didn't collapse under
pressure, although a third period collision between the Rangers'
netminder, Fedor Tyutin and Alexander Ovechkin had us holding our
Finally Jaromir Jagr registered a point...although he'd
only been held pointless for two games.
Finally the Rangers scored a goal...in the first couple of
minutes, after having been shutout for the previous seven periods of
Finally they scored on the
power play, having gone 0 for 14 going back to the second period in
Finally we've something to at least feel positive about as
the team heads into a Tuesday match-up with the hot New Jersey Devils.
Finally we saw the stick salute
at center ice...and three stars of the game all going to the Rangers
Almost...Henrik Lundqvist was just
2:29 away from a shutout, but a defensive gaff by Fedor Tyutin cost him
his second of the season and what would have been his first NHL shutout
against a team not the named the Florida Panthers.
Okay...enough with the "Finally's".
Last night the team resembled the "Rangers of old". No, not that
bunch of overpaid misfits that has typified the team over the past
decade, but the one that surprised so many last season. But beyond
that, they looked like a team who was willing to take it to the
opposition, including physically.
And what better opportunity? The
Rangers were on a seven game losing streak, and were facing a Capitals
team that was suffering from illness and injury. The game plan was
simple, but the execution was what was important. Don't try to
carry the puck in on every play, get it deep and make the defense turn
around...then hit them when they go to retrieve the puck. It's not
the first time that the Rangers' coaching staff has preached this, but
for the first time in a long time everyone appeared to be on the same
37 year old Brendan Shanahan's
willingness to take on Donald Brashear in the third was another
important moment this season. While it is disappointing that the
Rangers had to rely on their aging star to take matters into his own
hands and make an opposition player pay for taking liberties with
Jaromir Jagr, it was certainly something that the team can use to build
on for future games. Colton Orr seemed to be one of the most
inspired, playing one of his best games as a Ranger. The fight (in
which Shanahan held his own against a vaunted opponent) came on the back
of the play by Ryan Hollweg and Darius Kasparaitis the previous night in
Ottawa and will be something the Rangers 'lower order' will need to
replicate as the season goes on.
It was also good to see Petr Prucha score
a couple of goals, in much the same fashion we saw last year.
Prucha picked up both his goals off of rebounds, in front of the crease,
burying chances he had been putting wide all season.
And while the defense is not perfect,
there's been a steady improvement in the play of Karel Rachunek and
Darius Kasparaitis over the past few games...and Thomas Pock perhaps had
one of his best games as a Ranger last night. Too bad for Pock
though, he's likely to be forced out of the line-up with the return of
Marek Malik on Tuesday.
One game does not a season make,
especially one after a seven game losing streak. But for the first
time in two weeks, Rangers fans have a team they can be proud of.