MATT: Ryan McDonagh is just on another level right now than he's ever been in his still short career. He's becoming the player you notice shift after shift in both ends of the ice, at even strength and on special teams. He was active offensive, chipping in with a goal with another four attemps that either missed the mark or were blocked. McDonagh met the bell physically with the Bruins, and finished with three hits and two blocks in 27:10 of ice time. McDonagh has clearly turned the corner of being just a strong defensive defenseman, as he's close to eclipsing his point toal from all of last season.
My second star of the afternoon was Rick Nash, who I thought looked most like the Rick Nash of old. He was hard on the puck and drove to the net like a bull, especially on his goal in the first period, where he fended off both Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, clearly not an easy task. On other plays, Nash was able to split through the Bruins' defense and drew a penalty, something he's been doing with regularity since his return nearly two weeks ago. Nash still has some ground to gain, but he's looking better and better game after game.
My third star of the night was Derick Brassard, mainly for his gorgeous pass on the McDonagh goal. We saw a glimpse at how good Brassard could be last season and at times this year, and that pass summed it up on one play. Brassard sees the ice so well, and the pass hit No. 27's stick right on the tape, and he did the rest. I've liked Brassard's game lately, and he's putting up points on a more consistent basis. He finished with an assist and won three of four faceoffs in 15:04 of ice time.
JIM: I'd have to agree with the head coach that there aren't a lot of Rangers up for consideration for the three star designation Friday afternoon. That said I'd go with Rick Nash as my No. 1 Star because he was a force on the puck all game long, on a day that the Rangers didn't have a lot of offensive options. His goal was vintage Rick Nash, a power move to the net, shedding defenders along the way, and pretty wicked shot to finish. Plus he drew penalties, gave and received big hits, and was engaged all game long.
My second star was Ryan Callahan, who played his best game in a couple of weeks in my opinion. He was on the puck, in on the forecheck, physical, and using his legs more effectively than in recent memory. Callahan picked up an assist on Ryan McDonagh's goal, led the team with four shots on goal and had a team-high six attempted shots while also playing a major role on an effective penalty kill.
Ryan McDonagh was again a beast on the back end, playing another extremely strong two-way game, and was my third star on Friday. He was a horse in his own end of the ice, standing tall against a very physical Bruins team, maintaining his position consistently while clearing the crease for Henrik Lundqvist. He also scored his sixth goal, and is well on his way to a career-year offensively. No other Rangers defenseman comes close to combining the defensive skills and offensive skills McDonagh does, while constantly leading the Rangers in ice-time each and every game.