The Rangers are definitely missing something. Oddly enough, I ran into him in the elevator on the way up to the press room before the game…Marian Gaborik.
Gaborik reported last night that he’s not ready to come back yet. He’s ‘lightly’ skating, but not close to coming back yet. This morning, he told the NY Post’s Larry Brooks the exact opposite…he’s ready to come back for the next Rangers game.
But Gabby hasn’t been the only star missing from the Rangers lineup. Chris Drury (fractured finger on October 15, six weeks) and Vinny Prospal (knee surgery on October 18, 6-8 weeks) are the other two offensive leaders missing from the Rangers roster. Between the three, they have 42 man-games lost and counting.
The Rangers are left to do what any other team would be left with…turn to what you have on the ice, even if the offense is being generated from unlikely sources like Derek Boogaard, who had not scored a goal since January 7, 2006, and Brian Boyle, who scored his NHL career high of seven goals this season (previously, he had only tallied up to four goals per season).
The Rangers’ situation could be worse, but it is not. They are second in the Atlantic Division, trailing the Philadelphia Flyers by five points. They are currently eighth in the Eastern Conference.
No matter what their struggles are in their offensive zone, they are still generating goals, along with points to keep their heads above water.
Washington Capitals 5, New York Rangers 3
It didn’t take too long for Boyle to start scoring for the Rangers Wednesday night. Just 4:02 into the game, he tallied the Rangers first goal, marking his sixth goal of the season.
Shortly after Boyle’s goal, Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky and Caps defenseman Mike Green dropped the gloves at 5:17. The uneventful boxing match sent the two to the penalty box each with five minutes for fighting. Boyle followed with another altercation when he bloodied up Jason Chimera at 8:06 (both receiving a minor roughing penalty).
An unfortunate tripping penalty was called on Erik Christensen at 8:28, which led to a power play goal from Brooks Laich at 8:52. Following the goal, the Rangers bench was called for a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. Head coach John Tortorella would not elaborate after the game as to what happened.
With a five-on-three advantage for the Rangers, Boyle tallied his second goal of the game on the power play to give the team a 2-1 lead at 12:56.
Despite trailing in the first period, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau thought the team played well in the opening period.
“I never thought that we were behind,” Boudreau said. “We were behind, but I thought we played pretty well in the first period. We got a bad break on the second goal after killing off a five-on-three pretty well. Sometimes a team is beating you 2-1, or 1-0 and you think there’s no way we’re going to come back, but I thought there was a good vibe on the bench tonight.”
A few minutes following Boyle’s power play goal, Matt Hendricks delivered a nasty hit on Steve Eminger’s knee. Eminger went down in the neutral zone and Michael Sauer went after Hendricks. Hendricks received only two minutes for roughing, while Sauer was issued up a double roughing minor.
In the middle stanza, Caps defenseman John Erskine tied up the game 2-2 at 2:34. Boogaard followed it up on a breakaway at 3:15 to score his first goal as a member of the Rangers.
But, as Washington would have it, Mike Knuble tied up the game again at 9:18.
At 10:34, the Rangers got a lucky opportunity, only to have Ruslan Fedotenko’s goal waved off.
“The referee said I just make a collision with the goalie,” Fedotenko said. “I didn’t think so. I really bumped him. I [didn’t] review the play…so they make it no goal. So it’s no goal.
“I was trying to make a cut in front of him and [the goalie] was there. [The ref] said just play for the ice, but don’t collide with the goalie. He said because I collided with the goalie, he said there is no goal.”
In the final period, Washington took over to seal the win with the game-wining goal from Hendricks at 7:53. With Henrik Lundqvist pulled for the extra man advantage in the final minute of the game, Laich ended any hope the Rangers had of tying the game by scoring a goal on the empty net.
“We knew we could come back,” Alex Ovechkin said about the Caps win. “It doesn’t matter what the score is. Just play our game, play our system and we deserve to win. If we get the lead in the third period, we usually win the game. We score one goal in the third period, they didn’t score and we won the game.”
Heritage Week starts on Friday, November 12 at Rockefeller Center. You can find details of the events and Rangers players and alumni appearances throughout NYC at: NYR Heritage Week