After the Buffalo game the Rangers were looking at seven games in thirteen days, Christmas, a Boxing day scuffle with the Islanders, and the rapidly approaching January 2nd outdoor match in Philly. Not exactly make or break, but still a very important signature point in the season. Do they roll? Derail? Or plod along in a win one lose one mode? The answer is roll with a roar, 8 wins 3 losses concluding with the Outdoor Classic win. Despite yesterdays questionable refereeing, the Rangers terminated a very tough segment by taking over first place in the conference with 52 points.
Led by Mike Rupp‘s two goals, both assisted by linemates John Mitchell and Brandon Prust, the Rangers put together another, grind til the game is in the bag win. Serving notice on Philadelphia no future lead is safe, the Rangers planted another seed of doubt in the Flyers rather limited cranium space. That space shortage, proven by Marc- Andre Bourdon looking for another fight with his 1/2 face shield glued to his head. When is the NHL going to address these guys who start fights hiding behind 1/2 shields.
Mike Rupp knows his job, does it well. He’s a hard nosed, tough, gritty unyielding guy to play against, who does the dirty work when needed. The man can play, and the Rangers have themselves a healthy, prototypical modern “enforcer”. He doesn’t run around starting stuff like plastic man Bourdon, he just does a bang up job of finishing it. What a great weapon for Coach Tortorella to have on his team. The chemistry developing with his linemates Prust and Mitchell continues to grow, boding well for the second half of the season usually survived by balanced four line teams.
Welcome back Marc Staal, a belated New York Ranger Christmas present. Shaking off ring rust, he contributed valuable minutes in the Classic victory. The Ranger’s got a whole lot better yesterday with Staal in the lineup, just in time for the upcoming separate the contender from the pretender part of the season.