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Rangers Shorthanded on Ice, But Not on Scoreboard

The Rangers lose some bodies, but they don't lose a game.

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Mar 29, 2012  |  Updated 11:39 AM EDT
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Nothing could be finer than winning in Carolina.

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The Rangers have apparently gotten so bored with simply winning games this season that they want to find ways to up their degree of difficulty to keep it interesting.

They skated into Carolina on Thursday night with Ryan Callahan unable to play because of a foot injury. Henrik Lundqvist got the night off to prepare for Friday night in Tampa.

Once the game began, they lost Michael Del Zotto during the game to a hip injury and Brandon Dubinsky found himself anchored to the bench after taking a stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the first period.

Playing without that many key bodies could help rationalize a loss on the road, especially when you've got a nine-point lead over the rest of the conference. But the Rangers need not be graded on a curve because the guys they had came through just fine for a 3-2 win.

It's a big win for Martin Biron since it feels like the backup goaltender hasn't played well since the calendar flipped over to 2012. He made a few big saves to keep the score 1-0 Hurricanes in the second period before the Rangers were able to find their bearings and get their own offense in gear.

Given the missing bodies, it is no surprise that the line that got things moving in the right direction was the Artem Anisimov-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik group. The first goal was the latest sign that Anisimov's talent as a sniper is surpassed only by his flightiness.

If Anisimov concentrated solely on putting the puck in the net instead of trying to do the hockey equivalent of doodling flowers on his notebook during social studies class, he could be the goal producer that the team was trying to acquire before the deadline. He tied the game with an absolute rocket past Cam Ward and then planted himself in front of the net to help Marian Gaborik give the team the lead with his 30th goal of the season.

The first line didn't do all the scoring -- the unlikely duo of Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust ran a 2-on-1 for the final goal -- but they did a lot of the work that normally goes to Callahan's group and they did an awfully good job of it. It was another sign that it is going to be very hard for anyone to outwork this Rangers team even if they still have the much-discussed problems when it comes to scoring goals.

Since this formula didn't prove too difficult for the Rangers, we'll see what they come up with on Friday night in Tampa. Maybe John Tortorella will be forced to use a group of turtles for the fourth line or perhaps Gaborik will have to play with just one skate.

Anything else is starting to feel like it's a little too easy for the Rangers.

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.

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