Brendan Shanahan



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 the line-up.

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 breath.

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 action.

Finally they scored on the power play, having gone 0 for 14 going back to the second period in Tampa.

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 page.

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.

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