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Sluggish starts of concern for Rangers

Grand theft - Puck.  Turple was amazingly stingy with his glove hand on this night!

It was obvious that the fans in Kitchener were growing weary of their teams new game plan.  Bore the opposing team's netminder to death, and then just as he's about to fall asleep, starting punching pucks past him.  It worked in Guelph, and now it's worked on home ice as well, but in reality it points like a huge flashing marque at some bigger problems that the team may have going forward.  For three straight seasons the Rangers' outshot the lion's share of their opponents even powerhouse teams like the London Knights.  With the Rangers' utilizing skilled forwards over the more gritty ones that graduated from the previous year.  At one point midway through the second period, the Rangers were outshot 25-6, and were approaching 10 minutes since their last shot on goal, occuring with the ice still wet to start the second period.  The next shot, #7 on the night occured on a Rangers' powerplay past the midway point of the second period.  One of the things few Rangers' fans want changed is the netminding of Dan Turple, at times he was simply sensational and moreso than any other start as a Ranger he was really flashing the leather.  Picking several hard wristers out of the air by Ryan O'Marra, Michael Blunden and the extremely dangerous Andrew Hotham who made a routine of sneaking in from the point on the many Otters' powerplays.

The Rangers' started out reasonably strongly buoyed by a small collection of Erie penalties.  But things went downhill from there, the Otters' penalty kill ranked #1 in the league to enter the game was rather stingy.  Not just stingy, outright productive.  When Jakub Kindl pinched at the point Chris Greene snuck out with the puck, approached the net on an angle snapping a wrister past Dan Turple giving the Otters' the early lead.  The second period was near disasterous for the Rangers, but their number one penalty killer Dan Turple was really up to the task.  The Rangers as has been routine for the team of late found themselves down two men on several occasions entering the second period they compounded things when Jakub Kindl took a 4-minute high-sticking minor, a delayed call at the 20:00 mark of the first period with the Rangers already down a man.  In 11 power play opportunities, many of the multi-player advantage variety the Rangers were a perfect 11/11 in killing the penalties leading them to leap-frog the Otters PK as tops in the league, the Rangers' powerplay would definitely have some say in the matter later on in the game.  

Dan Turple does his best to look through traffic during this second period powerplay.

Similar to their game in Guelph, the Rangers didn't really hit rock bottom until the second period when Michael Blunden picked up his own rebound, batting the shot out of the air past Dan Turple during one of the rare times that the two teams enjoyed some 5-on-5 hockey during the first half of the second period.  2-0 Otters, and eventually on the shot clock a rather nasty 25-6 Otters.  Craig Voakes broke the ice scoring on Jhase Sniderman at the midway point of the second period on the powerplay he snuck in from the puck very deep and when the puck arrived on his stick, and took little time in roofing the puck on the surprised netminder.  Sniderman started in place of overager Josh Disher whom Rangers' fans are a little more familiar with because of last year's playoff clash, with the Otters' playing one overager over the limit, Disher was not dressed since the Otters had no intensions in using their star netminder who was recently returned from the New Jersey Devils and their AHL affiliate.  Unfortunately for Sniderman and the Otters, their first 30 solid minutes of the game did not distance them enough from the Rangers and the Rangers' executed in the third period and it was the usual suspects, the McGrath, Duco, and Davis line that again caused havoc.

Early in the third period a little payback for the Rangers, McGrath and Voakes broke in shorthanded on a two-on-one, McGrath faked the shot, and then proceeded to waltz towards the center of the crease zipping a wrister into the top corner of the net, tie game Rangers.  Then with a minute of madness, the Rangers' newest promotion looming, simply awaiting an offensive zone faceoff, the Rangers again went to work on the power play.  It wouldn't take too long before Evan McGrath slammed the puck past Sniderman on the short-side giving the Rangers their first lead of the night.  Late in the period, again on the powerplay McGrath fired a cross-crease pass to Patrick Davis who narrowly escaped a penalty just prior after a hit on Josh Kidd, Davis chipped the puck through the 5-hole.  Evan McGrath wasn't officially in on the scoring during Mike Duco's game ending empty net goal, but he did take a painful clearing pass off of his foot while forechecking, and the Otters never did leave the zone.  For Turple, it was a game of redemption against the Otters, who chased him from game 2 in the postseason, and later had to bow out of game 3 with a season-ending shoulder injury.  Full marks for a performance where Dan stopped 47 of 49 shots in a first star performance.  Jean-Michel Rizk had a very  impressive night.  Unfortunately several Rangers were half undressed for the star presentations, leaving some fans shaking their heads.  The win for the Rangers was their 5th straight over ther Otters, a long way from the 11 straight the Rangers reeled off in 2002-2003.  All thre members of the Rangers' number one unit McGrath (1st), Mike Duco (8th) and Patrick Davis (11th) are in the league's top twenty scorers, leaving much in the way of concern about the ability to score outside their number one line.