Right, so, I'm back from a crazy spiral of work to do and also from Quebec, where I was for a while. Hi! The Rangers sure won a lot of games since last we spoke.
My girlfriend reported to me that she has never, in her life, seen me giddy the way that I was giddy when Avery buried that puck against the 'Canes. In typical Tortorella fashion, the coach gave Avery correspondingly more ice time because he scored a goal, breaking up the lines to do so. Only this time, because it came out better for the good guys, I didn't really mind.
Man, it's fun to win hockey games. Here we go:
Anisimov, as expected, looks really good when he's given very little responsibility on a line with 2 very good hockey players. Stepan, Gaborik, Richards, and Callahan all look great, and Dubinsky is getting there (I hope). Boyle, Prust, and Fedotenko continue to do their jobs, Avery deserves more ice time, Christensen sucks up way too much ice time, and I'm warming up to Deveaux. Del Zotto came back from his Sophomore Slump to become a Third-year Thuperman: I really like how all of a sudden he plays defense. Girardi for President, and thank goodness McDonagh and Sauer didn't have the declines they easily could have. Eminger, Woywitka, this new Stralman guy, whatever. There's not a really solid back 2.
I assume that by tomorrow on Long Island, Torts will have forgotten that Avery's pretty good and relegated him to 5 minutes a game again. I guess I'll take what I can get, but we should hope Avery gets lucky and finds the net again soon: if he can show consistency on the scorecard, maybe that will have the lasting impression on the coach that consistency in actual play clearly doesn't have. And if I didn't make it clear enough before, Christensen remains a bag of shit.
Some real quick musings on what the standings tell us right now:
--- Sure, the Rangers are streaking right now, and they'll have to come down eventually. But this sure is fun while it lasts: if we let every team in the league win every game in hand, up to 18 games played for everyone, the Rangers would be tied with the Caps for league lead. And while small sample size tells us that our goal differential may be lying, our goal differential is saying "this might not be a mirage!"
--- See also: Boston Bruins. Behind the Rangers, they're riding the second-longest win streak in the league right now, but getting off to a slower start means the reigning champs are sitting in 11th in the East. Warning: that's bullshit. Their goal differential of +17 is best in the league by 4, and while, like the Rangers', that's due to very high performance in a very small sample, we should take it as a sign that barring a major shift, Boston won't be below that #8 line for long.
--- What else do goal differentials tell us, like in the West? That at +1 Edmonton might be a real playoff team this year, but probably isn't a home ice contender. That while Dallas's record is for real, everyone in the West is pretty bunched up right now, and it's still kinda a free-for-all.
--- Oh, and the Toronto party might still be bullshit. 10-6-1 with a goal differential of -7? Sorry, having some trouble with that. Yes, yes, it's only a handful of games. Still, I'd be willing to put money down that if after game 34, the Leafs have been outscored by their opponents by a total of 14 goals, they won't be looking at a 20-12-2 record.
Oh, and congratulations to Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe, and Joe Nieuwendyk, the 2011 inductee class to the Hockey Hall of Fame!
Next up: a few reasons I actually kinda like the Flyers a little right now?