Good goaltending wins, in the instance of the Rangers' netminding has been huge and huge has been the netminder. The Rangers are 10-3-5 in their last 18 and have made some capital gains in terms of goals against. Turple has started 16 of those 18 games and in half of those starts (8 games) he's allowed one or fewer goals. In the latest string of 7 games Turple's allowed an mind-boggling low 9 goals against and compiling an equally impressive 1.25GAA during that time. It's something that the Generals used to catapult them through the second half of the 2003-04 season, and now the Rangers are starting to reap the rewards of their "big risk" when they dispatched both DiRienzo and Heshmatpour in exchange for the big netminder. For Turple it was back-to-back single goal games, and back to back first star performances. As if the Rangers didn't have their netminder earning the honor in regulation time in the extra period Turple was forced to make 9 stops as the Rangers appeared to simply run out of gas after a hard fought 60 minutes.
It'll be nice for the Rangers to run out of
excuses but according to head coach: Peter DeBoer there were still flu
stricken Rangers' in the washrooms between periods. Obviously the
return of captain: Michael Richards would be huge for the club, he and
other forwards (Myles Applebaum and Patrick Davis who cotinue to be out
with shoulder and knee problems) have left the Rangers' in a vulnerable
spot up front. For the first time since the Rangers' visit to Peterborough
the blueline was 100% health on Wednesday night, the addition of rookie
first round sparkplug: Justin Azevedo couldn't have hurt. The energy
that he brought to the ice was inspiring as always, he was effective in
his first game back centering a line which including newcomers: Jean-Michel
Rizk and Ryan Donally. Donally's solid two-way evening and body checks
made him stick out as the third star behind the goaltenders who's combined
efforts didn't leave much more to be desired. A quick once over of
all 6 wingers used on Friday night, shows that the Rangers have acquired
a group of not overly well groomed, but extremely rugged wingers and they
showed it on Friday night with grit and determination on the boards.
One giveaway nearly snapped a scoreless tie in the first period, surprisingly an ill-advised pass quickly led to a clear break from Stefan Ruzicka for leads the Attack with 32 goals scored. Surprisingly Mike Duco was the closest Ranger in pursuit and Ruzicka's pull away speed quickly made him a non-issue. Dan Turple backed in and snared and top corner wrist shot bringing a "goal-like" cheer from the Rangers' crowd of nearly 6,000, the only thing missing was the familiar "Let's go Rangers" music. There were two scraps in the first period first Adam Keefe battled with Mike Angelidis and afterwards Mark Fraser tangled with Paul Bissonnette, this coming after a hit on David Clarkson. In the second period the Rangers broke the ice scoring after the 15 minute mark of the period on their tenth shot of the period Adam Keefe put a backhander on goal that squeezed through to the other size of the crease, Craig Voakes was waiting there and quickly but awkwardly backhanded the puck into the vacated half of the net while standing beyond the goal line. The Attack meanwhile had yet to register a shot on goal during the secnod frame, they had pressure they had glorious opportunities, but often times Turple would have the angle so well covered that he forced shots wide. The Attack finally did get their first shot on goal just prior to the 16:30 mark, and from there surged forcing the Rangers' netminder to make several great stops with lots of traffic infront. It was evident that the Rangers were fighting the effects of the flu bug as they seemed to run out of energy late in each of the three periods, especially overtime where they were outshot by a 9-1 margin!
The Rangers had their best chance at getting a precious two points on Owen Sound early in the third period, Andre Benoit placed a near perfect shot from the point through a screen and very hard off of the near post. Midway through the period Bobby Ryan would emerge from a scramble finally breaking Dan Turple's shutout bid. Play from the Rangers picked up after the tying goal for the Attack, but they managed to hold on (just barely) despite the odds stacked against them. Pat Smola was officiating, he called several coincidental minors, but pretty much kept infractions resulting in powerplays to a minimum, the four powerplays for the Attack and three for the Rangers were largely ineffective anyhow. The Attack lead the season series 2-1-1 on the strength of an overtime win up in Owen Sound just prior to the Christmas break.