I gotta admit, Wayne Gretzky is a classier individual than I am. With his team ahead 5-0 heading into the third period, he had them sit back and play a conservative game. If it were me, I would have tried to beat the Rangers 10-0, and probably could have, the way the Rangers were playing Sunday evening. Hmm, where to start, where to start ... :
*The most disheartening thing to me was not that the Rangers lost to one of the five worse teams in the NHL but that only one player on the team actually played like he was pissed off: Dan Girardi. Every single player should have been infuriated but they all played the same lackluster hockey in the second period that they did in the first.
*The Rangers scored their one goal on the power play in the third after Phoenix had already started sitting back on their heels. So do the Blueshirts then pounce and build off of the one goal? Nope, their "captain" takes a lazy holding penalty and kills what little momentum they had. Superstar!
*As I expect that little from Jagr, I expected a little more from Tom Renney. The Kind Commander lost the game for the Rangers before it started by not putting them in a position to win. He mishandled the injury/flu depleted roster and put a team out on the ice that couldn't do anything.
>First off, according to Sam, Renney benched Ryan Hollweg to send a message that "He needs to do more." That's fine, but don't do that when your team is decimated by injury. And don't replace him with super-slo-mo Jason Strudwick.
>That set up yet another mistake, reinserting Marek Malik back in the lineup. That changed two of the three defensive pairings and eliminated all of the chemistry ... and put Malik back in the lineup. He was his usual terrible self but certainly not the cause for the Rangers demise.
>Not helping the team either was the fact that Renney put his two call ups, Greg Moore and Nigel Dawes, on the same line. >Two kids, who are going to do their damndest to make a case to stay in the NHL and will take the risks associated with it, on the same line - and playing with the underachieving Chris Drury. Yeah, no.
>And if Hank has a bad wrist and a case of the flu, why was he even dressed for the game? Renney had no intention of letting him play, so why not let him rest at home and bring up Montoya. Give Monty a start and show Phoenix what they missed out on by not trading for him.
*The one roster move that Renney didn't make that I won't complain about is to take Dubi off of Jagr's line. Unless they move Straka to center and get another Czech to play wing, leave it alone. Drury is playing poorly, Gomez is playing poorly, don't add them to a line with a guy who clearly doesn't care about playing - poorly or otherwise. Dubi injects some energy to that line and is willing to check people, something the two Czechs are reluctant to do.
*Jagr apparently lost a tooth in the first period when he was elbowed in the mouth by Fredrik Sjostrom. Did he show outrage and stand up for himself? Nope, he skated to the bench. He deals with double teams, elbows, hooks, holds, slashes, etc. all game long and does nothing about it. This guy is the captain of the New York Rangers! If you have no respect for your teammates - which you clearly don't playing like you don't want to be there - at least have some respect for yourself!
*A quick word on the goaltenders: Valley really isn't to blame on the loss - at least three of the goals against weren't his fault. Ilya Bryzgalov, who regular readers know I am a fan of, was terrible at the start. Bryzgalov couldn't seem to get his angles right and was out of position several times but the Rangers didn't take advantage.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Bryzgalov - 34 saves
2-Radim Vrbata - goal and an assist
1-Joel Perrault - two goals
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Shane Doan - just because he is the last Winnipeg Jet on the team, and that means something, if only to me. He also had an assist and threw some pucks into the crowd to little kids before the game. A good guy, who is very underrated.
2-Bryzgalov - recovered from the aforementioned lousy start to give up just one goal, despite his team mailing it in for the third period.
1-Wayne Gretzky - he returned and conquered, showed class and skill by getting his young team to play composed in the World's Most Famous Arena.