It has been two games since The Mighty Line has fallen, and it sure looks as if the Rangers are better for it.
Since coach John Tortorella split up his top-heavy combination of Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, the Rangers have won two games in a row and gotten goals from the depths of their roster. It is exactly the type of balance Tortorella was looking for, and even if the new combinations are tenuous, the results are irrefutable.
“You can’t always rely on your top guys,” captain Ryan Callahan said yesterday before the Rangers (6-5-0) flew to Boston for tonight’s match against the powerhouse Bruins (8-1-1). “Everybody has to chip in, and when teams are successful, they have scoring throughout the lineup. It’s got to be the same way here.”
It was Callahan’s return from a partially separated left shoulder that sparked the line shuffle, starting with Thursday’s 4-1 win over the Islanders. That night they got two goals from 19-year-old J.T. Miller, who had the benefit and comfort of skating alongside the responsible Callahan and fellow rookie Chris Kreider.
“Both of them, they’re pretty mature guys,” Callahan said of Miller and Kreider. “They’re young, but they carry themselves well [and] they approach the game the correct way. Just the first couple games playing with them, they bring a lot of energy and it’s fun.”
In Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Lightning, the Rangers got two goals from Carl Hagelin, one from Arron Asham and one from Callahan. Nash, the star, added one in garbage time, but by then he had been carried to the finish line on the back of his underlings.
“I don’t really think about that stuff,” Nash said. “I worry about what I can control, and that’s on the ice so I don’t think about those things.”
Although Richards and Gaborik are still together — joined on the left by Taylor Pyatt, allowing Gaborik to go back to his natural right wing — it can’t be said Nash was dropped. Rather, third-year pivot Derek Stepan and second-year speedster Hagelin were promoted, as their line with Nash more often than not that sees the opposing team’s best defensive pair.
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