If the New York Rangers were swept by the New York Islanders during their home-and-home series, Rangers fans would have called for blood.
Whether it be general manager Glen Sather, head coach John Tortorella, or one of the many underperforming players, fans wouldn’t have been happy getting swept by the rebuilding Islanders.
I don’t know if the benching of Wade Redden and Ales Kotalik were huge contributors in the Rangers' 5-2 win or if it will even translate into a renewed play from the two veterans, but one thing was for sure...it's about time Tortorella made a statement with his players.
If you analyze this past game, the Rangers were outplayed for the first two periods and gave the Islanders numerous scoring chances throughout. If not for the play of Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers would have likely lost the game and continued to slide further down the Eastern Conference standings.
For now, the Blueshirts put that losing streak on hold.
Lundqvist made 35 saves in the win and played the type of game that the Rangers needed from their star goaltender. Though Lundqvist has played much better lately, he still is having an inconsistent season and needs more games like this past one against the Islanders if the struggling Rangers are to go on any type of winning streak.
The Rangers have now snapped a five-game losing streak and broke their two goals-a-game theme that spanned for seven-straight games and 17 of their last 21.
Ryan Callahan, who seems to finally be settling in as an alternate captain, played one of his best games of the season and scored two power play goals and two assists. Marian Gaborik scored a goal and two assists and continues to be one of the most dominating players in the NHL, leading the league in points (45) and goals (24).
The Rangers will be tested once again on Saturday against the always-tough Philadelphia Flyers.
"The key thing is we've got to start becoming a team," Tortorella said in an interview with Andrew Gross. "I think that’s the most important thing. We've had a lot of changeover as we’ve gone through here. There is a new coaching staff. There is a lot of new faces coming in here. It is late December and the important thing is for us to become a team and play as a team and play for one another. I don’t think we’ve gotten there yet."
Key victories over long-time rivals will definitely be one way to begin the process of growing as a team.