Stifling of the Ducks a good sign for Rangers as playoffs approach

— -- Hot and not

Klein Kevin Klein, New York Rangers
Klein had a season-high six shots and scored both Rangers goals in their 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. He now has four points in the past four games and is a plus-3 in that span.

Allen Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues
Allen is hitting the skids at the wrong time. He allowed five goals on 26 shots in a 6-4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers -- his second straight loss -- and has now allowed 13 goals in his past three games.

How impressive was the Rangers' win in Anaheim ?

Pierre LeBrun @Real_ESPNLeBrun:  I stayed up to watch, and let me tell you, it's been a while since a team stifled the Ducks like the Rangers did. That was one heck of a defensive effort by the Blueshirts, who began their scary three-game California trek with a huge win against what has been the hottest team in the NHL since Christmas. The win put the Rangers two points up on the rival New York Islanders for second place in the Metropolitan Division, although the Brooklyn squad has two games in hand. It doesn't get any easier for the Rangers, who play the Pacific-leading Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night, but a win against a Cup contender like Anaheim can go a long way toward setting the tone as the Rangers try to hold off the Isles for that all-important No. 2 spot in the Metro. Thoughts, gang?

Scott Burnside @ESPN_Burnside:  You know Rangers coach Alain Vigneault has been searching for the right combinations with his team going a bit sideways lately. When they're in sync, though, this is a team that has the tools to play with anybody. Now, we know a first-round series against the Islanders would be a dandy. However, games like Wednesday's gritty road win suggest the NHL's best team, the Washington Capitals, would not have an easy time of it in the first round against the Rangers, either. Lots of water to flow under the bridge before that happens, but I agree that the win over the Ducks was important win for a Rangers team looking to re-establish its identity, especially given that lesser lights like Kevin Klein (who scored both goals) and backup goaltender  Antti Raanta were among the stars.

Craig Custance @CraigCustance:  What impresses me most about the Rangers is that they don't go into prolonged slides, which is so important in the NHL. If they should lose in regulation, it's a good bet the Rangers will bounce back with a win in the next game. That's just how they operate. Eric Staal seems to be finding his legs with the Rangers since coming over in a trade, and he made a couple nice passes to set up goals and/or scoring opportunities. It was good to see Klein make up for getting his pocket picked early in the game, and Joey Mac is right, he has been a great player for the Rangers. That's been a very underrated trade for Glen Sather and Jeff Gorton. While in Florida for the general managers meetings, we joked with Gorton that this New York team is somehow a bit under the radar because of the success of the Capitals in the East, but he didn't hide from the pressure that will be on his group. Their goals are high this spring, and a win like Wednesday's is further proof that they're more than capable of achieving them.

Joe McDonald @ESPNJoeyMac:  I also stayed up to watch that game, Pierre, and I'm glad I did. I had already watched the Philadelphia Flyers defeat the Chicago Blackhawks, which was also an extremely entertaining game. It was a struggle to stay awake, but it didn't take long to get my 13th wind, with the Rangers and Ducks providing the smelling salts. Klein has been an underrated player for New York the past two-plus seasons. He is respected on and off the ice by his teammates, too. He's a guy not a lot of people talk about, but he's a key component to the team's success. It was a huge win for the Rangers, and on the other side of that game, the Ducks host the Bruins on Saturday and it'll be interesting to see how Anaheim responds to another team that's playing well since the trade deadline.

Around the league

  • Big-bodied Detroit Red Wings rookie Anthony Mantha impressed coach Jeff Blashill with his strong play in his NHL debut earlier this week. 
  • Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman, playing just his second game since returning from suspension, suffered an upper-body injury Wednesday that "does not look good," according to coach Bob Hartley.
  • The Blackhawks felt they played well in their 3-2 road loss to the Flyers, but they know moral victories are hollow at this time of year.