Vally, Rangers quack Ducks for fourth straight thumbnail

Vally, Rangers quack Ducks for fourth straight

October 12, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments

The new season is only five games young. However, you have to like what we’re seeing from this new Ranger team under John Tortorella. Last night, his club played a great game from start to finish in posting a 3-0 shutout to quack the Ducks at MSG for their fourth straight win.

It may be early but there have been some real pluses in improving to 4-1, tied atop the Atlantic with Pittsburgh. One has to be how quickly a revamped roster are getting Tortorella’s more aggressive system. Something that was evident in a complete effort against a road weary Anaheim team playing their third game in four days with the earlier 5 PM start not helping.

I think the strongest point of our defense is how they get up in the neutral zone. There wasn’t much zone time in our end zone,a very relaxed Ranger coach said in the postgame of his team’s quick start that included a territorial edge along with a 13-1 shots edge in the first. That is due to them getting up the ice. I thought all of the defense, including the forwards fore-checking was important to us. We made some good defensive plays.

Though they didn’t get to a razor sharp Jean-Sebastien Giguere right away, they didn’t let frustration show sticking with it. It would’ve been very easy to lose focus given how well the former Conn Smythe winner played in making a game high 35 saves, including the first 24 thru 40 minutes. Instead, the Rangers kept plugging away by jumping up in the neutral zone to keep the Ducks on defense. Even when luck didn’t fall their way with three posts hit by Marian Gaborik, Ales Kotalik and Wade Redden, they remained focused.

Also keeping focused was backup goalie Steve Valiquette, who stopped all 18 shots for a feel good shutout in his first appearance. After basically being a spectator early, the likable seasoned vet made some timely saves that included a pointblank denial on a partial Todd Marchant break along with just getting a piece of the right blocker on a high Bobby Ryan offering with the game still scoreless.

“We are happy with four wins in a row,” Valiquette said after posting his first shutout since Oct.17, 2008 against hometown Original Six Toronto, “but we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves because we know a pat on the back is only a few feet from a kick in the butt.”

“Valley (Valiquette) made some big saves at some key times. He played very well. I am happy for him. He goes about his business. He is kind of a forgotten man. If we want to get where we want to be, he is going to have to play well for us and he certainly played well for us tonight,” Tortorella added.

He wasn’t challenged much due to great attention to detail by the Rangers, who played great team defense, even getting a nice bounce back effort from Michal Rozsival (16:51 TOI). He was strong on the puck making smarter choices. It wasn’t just about the much maligned vet turning it around but also about Marc Staal and Dan Girardi playing like a shutdown tandem for a second consecutive game by blanketing the Ryan Getzlaf line. Coming off holding Alex Ovechkin without a point, each experienced blueliner 25-or-younger were beasts, taking the body at every opportunity while covering for each other. They both received nearly 23 minutes combining for nine hits, four takeaways, three blocked shots and a plus-two rating. Their play rubbed off on D-mates Rozsival, Wade Redden (2 hits, 2 blocked shots in 18:17) and improving freshmen Mike Del Zotto (PP assist, block in 19 shifts-17:04) and Matt Gilroy (24 shifts-18:05), who all were sound.

With the forwards also doing their part, the Rangers never looked threatened by the Ducks, who predictably came harder in the second splitting 22 shots with the host club. As the period was closing, Sean Avery pushed Teemu Selanne away after an attempted shot. Indeed, Avery was his usual self in his 2009-10 season debut after missing the first four due to a right knee sprain. Not surprisingly, Selanne got some aid from teammates Getzlaf and Ryan Whitney as the refs separated them from Avery, who chirped away.

Perhaps that was still weighing on Whitney’s mind because he took a needless roughing minor on Avery by knocking his helmet off following a whistle. It took less than 60 seconds for his teammates to make Whitney pay when Gaborik came out of the left corner before leaving a backhand dish for Del Zotto. With everyone expecting the 19 year-old rookie to shoot, he instead dished across to an open Kotalik, whose shot deflected off Scott Niedermayer’s shaft past Giguere for the lead at 2:14.

“We played a solid game right from the start. We knew they had a game yesterday, so we were pressing. Some chances hit cross bars. We had been saying to just stay with it (and) be patient, and things are going to happen for us. They did (tonight). We made a difference in the power plays. That is why we are up there (in the standings),” Kotalik pointed out after extending his goal streak to three straight. Thus far, the $9 million investment has been good contributing on a power play that’s leaps and bounds better than last year. With Avery back in, he started on the fourth line but was moved around by Tortorella, who did a nice job getting the ex-Sabre ice.

Following a busy second, Valiquette didn’t have to stand on his head with the Rangers outshooting the Ducks 14-6 in the deciding stanza. Overall, they outshot them by 20 (38-18). If his biggest save came on Marchant following a rare Staal miscue at the end of an extended shift, then his second best was on Ryan prior to Kotalik’s PPG. The kid from Jersey thought he had the game’s first goal only to see Vally get just enough of the puck with his blocker pushing it out of harm’s way. Of his fourth career blanking, he noted:

“It feels good. It is such a team effort, so much goes into it. It is not a goaltending record, it is a team effort.”

A consistent effort allowed the more rested team to dictate the play as the frustrated Ducks, who didn’t get much room, ran out of steam. One Anaheim player who didn’t was former Hab captain Saku Koivu, who battled hard against Vinny Prospal all night. But in the end, it was the former Lightning forward’s club who came out on top with the Ranger bargain setting up Artem Anisimov’s first career NHL goal that extended to 2-0 with 5:38 left.

The end result came following an incidental injury to Marchant. The 17-year veteran skated hard down the left wing testing Valiquette but as he did, Girardi took him out cleanly. Unfortunately, Marchant’s momentum carried him into the end boards, forcing him to be helped off the ice. With some Ducks upset, Prospal’s former teammate Evgeny Artyukhin got nabbed for a double minor after high sticking Staal, handing the Rangers a double minor.

After doing zilch in the first half, they connected when Avery started a nice tic-tac-toe play with Prospal dishing to a wide open Anisimov, who buried it from eight feet. As the puck was in the net, Niedermayer simultaneously decked Avery with a shoulder hit which only drew laughter and more talking from the agitator who then celebrated his teammate’s milestone.

Brandon Dubinsky would take a similar double minor with less than two and a half left allowing Randy Carlyle to pull Giguere for a 6-0n-4. However, Girardi hit the empty net from 180 feet with 119 seconds left icing it.

Notes: With Avery back, Aaron Voros was a healthy scratch. Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan were limited to a combined three shots and minus-three. … With a helper, Gaborik has a five-game point streak (4-3-7) to start the season. … Physicality wasn’t a problem with the scoreless contest featuring plenty of battles along the boards with the Rangers holding a 40-36 edge. Ryan Callahan paced everyone with nine hits while Artyukhin countered with eight. … Against a good faceoff team, the Blueshirts fared well taking 31-of-54 with Dubinsky (11-8) and Chris Drury (10-8) standouts while Getzlaf finished .500 (10-10) for the Ducks. … Special Teams: Ana 0 for 3, NYR 2 for 5, Key Stat: Takeaways Ana-5, NYR-15 (4 tied w/2). … Rangers (4-1-0-0, 8 Pts) will be the more tired team facing a desperate Toronto club still looking for their first win tonight at The Garden (7 ET, MSG).

BONY 3 Stars:

3rd Star-Steve Valiquette, (18 save shutout, 4th career)

2nd Star-Sean Avery, (assist, 3 SOG, 5 hits, takeaway, penalty drawn in 16 shifts-10:42)

1st Star-Marc Staal/Dan Girardi, (SHG, 5 SOG, 9 hits, 4 takeaways, 3 blocked shots, +2 in 57 total shifts)

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