Monday, December 24, 2007
17-15-4: Well, That Wasn't That Bad ...
So the Rangers lost to the Ottawa Senators this evening 3-1. So what? I can honestly be ambivalent to the loss because the Rangers actually showed their potential in the first period. I didn't expect a win, but after being smacked around so much lately, the boys actually showed up and played an incredible period. And, despite regressing the next two periods, two posts were all that kept the game from being tied, one in the second and one late in the third. Ottawa is the best team in the East and the Rangers essentially outplayed them for a period and skated with them for the other two. After watching such embarrassments as the Carolina, Toronto and Minnesota games, I lowered the bar and the Rangers jumped over it. Can't be upset with that ... onto some other thoughts:
*Ok, I will say it, I still hate Jaromir Jagr. And you know why? Because he played like the Jaromir Jagr of two years ago for the majority of the game. If he can turn it on and off like that, why has the switch been down so long? He stayed out on the ice during warm ups for close to 10 minutes, or seven more than usual. Maybe practice pays off??? What a concept!
*I'm not even going to address the power play, I don't want to have to clean vomit from in between the keys of my laptop.
*Fan favourite Marek Malik made his triumphant return to the lineup. I say triumphant because he wasn't as terrible as usual. He wasn't particularly good, but he played as well as Paul Mara would have so it ended up par for the course.
*Sean Avery returned and did pretty well shaking off the rust. He annoyed the hell out of the Sens and played on the edge but did not look in synch with his linemates. Speaking of which ...
*Nothing tonight dissuaded me from my opinion that Chris Drury has been horribly underachieving. His line was by far the worst of the four and their inability to clear the puck set up the third Ottawa goal and sealed the game for the Sens.
*Ottawa got up 3-1 and started trapping hardcore in the third. It was beautiful to watch from a strategic point of view but terrible for the excitement factor. After running right into said trap multiple times, the Rangers started dumping the puck and actually chasing, which lead to a few chances. High energy, physical hockey can make this team a winner, if only the players would buy into it for 60 minutes, rather than 25.
*The kid line of Cally, Dawsie and Dubi played pretty well but all of that effort will have to start translating into some goals sooner or later.
*I don't mind the lack of goals coming from the fourth line. I do think that Colton Orr would be better replaced by Hartford's Franky Lessard or Mitch Fritz, whenever they return from injury. Orr has shown signs of being an actual player - which is good because he isn't a great fighter - but when he is not going at full speed he is useless and he dragged ass tonight. Bettsy wasn't at his best but still did his job as a shutdown center/penalty killer/faceoff specialist well. As for Ryan Hollweg, I will address him in a moment.
*Both goaltenders played solid, if unspectacular games. Hank made a big save or tow, but maybe could have stopped two of the goals against. Martin Gerber got saved by the iron several times and wasn't forced to make huge saves thanks to his defense.
*On onto the PHW Three Stars:
3-Scott Gomez - one goal
2-Jason Spezza - one goal
1-Martin Gerber - 34 saves
Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Tom Renney - for keeping Marcel Hossa out of the lineup. No, seriously, he finally got his team up to play a good opponent and encouraged them to play their game, which they did for 25 minutes (well I was being partially serious on the Hossa thing but moreso here). It was a nice game but he needs to start getting them to win, and soon.
2-Ryan Hollweg - the best Ranger on the ice all night, bar none. He hit, he forced turnovers, drew a penalty, got a few shots off and was responsible defensively. With Jed gone, Ryan is the one heart-and-soul player left on the squad and has done well to bring his passion to his play. Jed, by the way, scored tonight. It was an empty netter but it still counts!
1-Spezza - he is one of the few NHL players still using a wood stick and he does it well. A force to be reckoned with every time he steps on the ice.