Even Sidney Crosby Can't Slow the Rangers

Hot streak continues with 4-3 win over Penguins

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Everybody loves Richards.

    The Rangers really like the changes made to Madison Square Garden over the summer.

    They've won seven straight on home ice after beating the Penguins 4-3 on Tuesday night, and their 7-1-1 start is the best they've done through nine games since way back in 1992-93.

    So the fancy new digs appeal to them, although they haven't really changed their game much to suit the luxurious surroundings.

    Beating the Penguins takes a little blue-collar grit and that's what the Rangers flashed over the final period after the visitors erased two-thirds of a three-goal lead. They never fully grabbed the momentum, though, because, just as they did in the first period when call after call went against them, they never lost their heads.

    Against a team as talented as the Penguins, you can't afford to have any mental lapses or the game will get away from you in a flash. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and company have the talent edge in every game they play, so you need to beat them with a total effort.

    That's just what the Rangers got. Sean Avery, Dan Girardi and others supplied the grit which left the high-end work to the two players that the Rangers rely on in that area.

    Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards were the first and second stars of the game as each scored a goal during the four-goal second period. Richards assisted on Gaborik's power play goal and the two of them also assisted when Ryan Callahan scored with a man advantage.

    Entering the season, the expectation was that the two players would team up on a line that would be the source of the Rangers' scoring punch. That didn't work out as planned, which has actually turned out to be the best thing to happen to the Rangers all season.

    Splitting up Gaborik and Richards has lifted the game of the entire team by giving them more time with a superlative player on the ice. Now that they've clicked on the power play, the Rangers have the best of both worlds and the duo has never been better in the same game than they were on Tuesday night.

    They outplayed the big stars on the Penguins, giving the Rangers the edge in every facet of the game because few teams play as hard as the Rangers do on a nightly basis. It added up to another win and the formula has the Rangers earning more points per game than any other team in the NHL.

    New arena, new star and, so far, new results for a Rangers team that looks nothing like the one that fought for the eighth spot in the playoffs in recent years.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.