Halloween night was shaping up to look awfully scary for the New York Rangers. After losing their belated home opener to the Toronto Maple Leafs, John Tortorella’s crew hosted the fat and happy San Jose Sharks, who were perfect in the first five contests in their six-game road trip.
Maybe there’s some symmetry to the fact that the Rangers finally showed the “hunger” to win against top-flight teams, then, as they beat the Sharks 5-2.
With a great all-around effort, the Blueshirts generated two important firsts:
1. They won their first home game of the 2011-12 season.
2. The Rangers out-shot their opponents for the first time, by a count of 31-26.
That last tidbit is far more important than the first one since this was just their third game at MSG. Even with Brad Richards in the fold, the Rangers aren’t going to be more talented than most of their playoff-caliber opponents, so that means they’ll need to outwork them like last season.
Promising signs against a tough opponent
Shots aren’t everything, but they’re often a half-decent barometer for each teams’ efforts, so it is a promising sign to see the Rangers finally win that battle. It’s even more impressive that they curtailed the Sharks’ shot-happy offense, though; San Jose came into Monday’s game averaging a league-leading 36.6 shots per game.
Weary optimism for Rangers and Sharks
Both teams should enter November with mixed feelings. The Sharks should be proud of their 5-1-0 road trip, but the bottom line is that a slow start leaves them tied for third place in the rugged Pacific Division. The Rangers got a couple monkeys off their backs, but they’re also stuck behind two strong teams in their own division.
Each team faces great opportunities to extend their solid recent work in early November. San Jose’s schedule counters with a six-game homestand while the Rangers will play three of their next four at home.
In other words, after scratching through a lot of away games, both teams now face the golden opportunity that comes with a whole lot of home cooking.