Kukla's Korner

Goal Line Report

Underappreciated

In the Rangers’ 2-1 shootout victory over the Ottawa Senators last night, players such as Chris Drury, Markus Naslund, Nikolai Zherdev (with the exception of the lone shootout goal), Brandon Dubinsky or even Dan Girardi were not the team’s best players. Far from it, in fact.

In my eyes, it was Blair Betts, Fredrik Sjostrom and Lauri Korpikoski that shined as they got the team back in the game by scoring a goal in the third period. Not only that, but they kept the game simple, something that the other lines have not learned how to do yet.

There are many times when the Rangers will pass off a shot opportunity, often leading to turnovers and odd-man rushes the other way. Just watch Scott Gomez or even Nikolai Zherdev as these two seem to always be looking for the perfect play. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing but with their talent, they should not be hesistant to shoot the puck.

This is something that the Sjostrom-Betts-Korpikoski line did last night. They shot the puck from every angle, put traffic in front of Senators’ netminder Alex Auld and created rebound opportunities, which is exactly how the team knotted the score up at 1-1. Betts outhustled and outworked several Sens’ along the boards in the offensive zone, got the puck to Staal at the point, went to the net to screen Auld on the shot, tipped the puck over to Sjostrom who then buried the shot.

When hockey is played that way, it’s a simple game. If you drive to the net, create traffic in front, and put pucks on the goal, anything can happen. It may sound like a formula for successful video game hockey but it is a strategy that can work for any team if executed right.

This wasn’t the only scoring opportunity this line got either as they did it throughout the third period. Korpikoski was able to dig the puck out of the corner and go to the net with it. Sjostrom was not hesistant to shoot the puck and Betts was his usual hustling self.

Again, they may not be known as the team’s scoring line but they sure do know how to keep things simple and create scoring opportunities. I wonder if Renney will consider using this line tomorrow night against the Vancouver Canucks?

What are your thoughts?

Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
  Tags: alex+auld, blair+betts, brandon+dubinsky, chris+drury, dan+girardi, fredrik+sjostrom, lauri+korpikoski, markus+naslund, new+york+rangers, nikolai+zherdev, ottawa+senators, vancouver+canucks

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About Goal Line Report

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 patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com.