Mike Richter 2

Defense Wins

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 Malakhov. 

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.

Other notes: 
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 night’s game.

David Gokhshtein For Outside The Garden

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