Make no mistake, last night's victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning was important. The Lightning are not one of the league's better teams. Nor was this a "measuring stick" game. However, there were some very important "events" in this game:
1. The Goals: The Rangers managed to score three (3) goals! That, in and of itself, is an important accomplishment for this team! Even more importantly, however, is how the team scored its goals. The first goal came courtesy of a Nigel Dawes deflection. The second goal was the result of a shot (gasp!) from the point by Jagr which found its way to the net courtesy of the traffic generated in front of Tampa's goalie as a result of Shanny crashing the net. The third goal was scored by Shanny setting up shop directly in front of the net with his stick on the ice. Simple, fundamental hockey.
2. Jaromir Jagr: In my last post, I referred to Jagr as the captain (lower case "c"). Last night, Jagr played like a Captain. He drove to the net. He kept his feet moving. He shot the puck. He scored a power play goal off of a slap shot from the point (really!) Most importantly, he literally got his teeth knocked out and managed to finish the game with a two point first star performance. Like I said, he played like a Captain.
3. Nigel Dawes: In my season preview, I wrote about the need for someone other than the big guns to step up for the Rangers. It's only been a few games but Dawes looks like he could be that player this season. Admittedly, I've been slow to warm up to this kid. However, Dawes is absolutely earning respect and praise with the way he's been playing. The kid can skate, pass, shoot and even hit! If Dawes continues to perform, Renney will have some very difficult decisions to make when Avery, Straka and Callahan are ready to get back into the line up.
It was only one game. It may be the beginning.