After opening your season with a nine game road trip (including a pre-season spent almost entirely on the road), a five game road trip doesn’t seem so bad. After making stops in Dallas, Nashville, Tampa Bay, and Sunrise, the Rangers are spending this Thanksgiving in Boston with a Black Friday matinee against the Bruins. If you want to be considered a good team, being .500 on the road is a must. Heading in to their afternoon game against Boston on Friday, the Rangers have assured themselves of coming back from the trip having won more games than they lost.The first stop of the trip was the American Airlines Center to face the Stars. Rick Nash scored his first goal of the season (on the power play), Chris Kreider & John Moore scored early third period goals within 37 seconds of each other, and Henrik Lundqvist made a season-high 41 saves en route to a 3-2 victory.
One good goal-tending performance deserves another, as Cam Talbot earned shutout number two of his career in a 2-0 victory over the Predators. Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan each scored their fifth goals of the season, and it was Talbot’s second straight Saturday shutout as he improved to 5-1. Talbot is giving Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault reason to have a lot of confidence in his backup goalie. With a condensed Olympic schedule (although not as bad as last year’s condensed schedule), and Lundqvist representing Sweden, any extra opportunities to rest Henrik should be taken.
From the country music capital, the Rangers moved on to a two game swing through Florida. If goaltending was the story of the first two games, it was the story for the wrong reason in Tampa Bay on Monday night. Lightning Goalie Ben Bishop turned away 37 shots to shutout the Blueshirts 5-0. Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell each had two goals, and the win snapped the Rangers road winning streak at six games (one short of a record set in 1935 and 1978). They didn’t waste any time starting another streak after a 5-2 victory against the Panthers on Wednesday night. Derick Brassard got things going with a power play goal in the 1st Period. In the 2nd Period, the Rangers stood tall despite most of the play of that period being in their own end, and finished the frame with a late Brad Richards goal (his seventh of the season). Despite Florida creeping back in the game late in the 3rd period, the Rangers held on and added two late goals for the 5-2 win.
The Rangers enter their Thanksgiving Showdown match-up with the Bruins after Boston was embarrassed by the Red Wings 6-1 on Wednesday night. They lost their only other meeting this season by a score of 2-1 on November 19th. The Rangers are 1-11 when the opponent scores first, so getting that first goal, especially against the top team in the East, will be important. 3-2-0 or 3-1-1 qualifies as a good road trip, but 4-1-0 would look and feel much better for a team that went 3-6-0 on it’s first extended road trip of the season.