by Patrick Hoffman on 03/20/12 at 10:48 AM ET
While the first three seconds of the hockey game between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils provided a lot of theatrics, it all ended up meaning very little for the rest of the game as the Rangers went onto to clinch a playoff spot by beating the Devils by a score of 4-2.
For the first since the 2005-06 season, the Blueshirts managed to clinch a playoff spot with a few weeks to go in the season. While the team will now play for seeding, all that matters is that they have advanced to hockey’s “second season” and will have the chance to play for hockey’s Holy Grail come April.
The game may have not been pretty for either squad but in the end, the Rangers were able to get the job done with timely goal scoring. Brandon Dubinsky got the team going just over a minute after the three fights in the beginning of the first period to give the team a 1-0 lead.
Defenseman Dan Girardi scored 33 seconds into the second period to put the Rangers’ up 2-0. While the Devils would get one back to cut the lead to 2-1, Blueshirts’ forward Mats Zuccarello would put one in on the power play to give the team a 3-1 lead.
The Devils would once again cut the lead to one but Rangers’ Derek Stepan made sure to add an insurance marker with just over one minute to go in the third period to put the Rangers up 4-2. It was goal-scoring at the right time for the Blueshirts.
The tilt was certainly spirited and one that got off to a crazy start with fisticuffs. However, it was also a game that the Rangers showed a lot of physicality, a willingness to drive to the net and the ability to score goals at the right time, all things that the team will need to do during the postseason.
The club also got another win from netminder Henrik Lundqvist. While Lundqvist looked like he was fighting the puck at times, he stopped 20 of 22 shots for his 33rd victory of the season.
With a few weeks of hockey left to be played, the Rangers need to continue to have their foot on the gas. It is time for the club to establish their consistency again and there is no better time than the present to do so.
With that said, it sure is nice knowing that the Rangers are headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in just a few short weeks.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.