The Rangers who showed up for Monday's game in Pittsburgh were more like the Rangers of late than the ones who played against Montreal. I was nervous that the team had actually decided to play some hockey. Clearly not; its amazing what you can get used to. Like watching the Rangers pitiful excuse for a power play (which could have easily won the game for them but instead went 0-6).
I ate a late dinner and watched Jeopardy, tuning in seven minutes in to see the Rangers down 2-0 already. I honestly considered turning it back off again but thought it to be a better alternative than Wheel of Fortune. How wrong I was. This is pretty much train of thought as the game goes on from where I started:
*So Evgeni Malkin (who scored the first two goals) runs Rozy eight minutes into the game and Ryan Hollweg and Colton Orr are on the ice and do nothing? This team has no heart. For shame.
*The NHL can spin it all they want but Versus is bad for the game. The main game camera had troubles following the puck, the audio was horrendous (levels were everywhere!), supers/fonts were misspelled (two K's in Jarkko, morons) and the third man in the broadcast - Bob Harwood - was useless.
*Versus' low cameras showed JarKKo Ruutu clearly jabbing Rozy in the face when Jagr tapped his stick up but Doc and the idiot doing colour - whose name isn't worth knowing - instantly blamed Jagr. Let's face it folks, Jagr doesn't try particularly hard and rarely shows his strength. He didn't hit Ruutu's stick with the same force it hit Rozy in the face. But whatever, there is no way they will call an even game when media superstar Cindy Crosby is playing.
*Doc is spending an inordinate time talking about the referees and linesmen. I don't care if this no-name guy hit his 2,000th game. Officials should be invisible. I don't want to know about them, I don't want to hear from them, I just want an evenly called game. And we all know that we don't get that so why bother giving these idiots personality?
*I did not record this, and there will be no Rangers in 60, so I can't go back and take a second look. If you see something different, feel free to use the comments and let me know.
*Let me get this right - Kris Letang cross checks Rozy, he throws an elbow back and the kid goes down like he is shot. No diving call, just a roughing call (?) and a 5-on-3 that, of course, they converted to make it 3-0. I should be outraged, but I just reread the other stuff I already wrote and it makes sense - nationally-broadcast game with the league's centerpiece franchise with referees who have no qualms with calling things unevenly ...
*I really hope that the AP and Reuters have shooters there because this is going to be a long post and will need some pretty pictures to keep people reading ... aside from my wonderful commentary, of course.
*Can anyone explain to me why Malik and Rozy were reunited for this game? I won't even dispute Malik's place in the lineup - Tom Renney clearly can't see what everyone else can - but why reunite two players who have both been utterly incompetent in the Rangers zone all season long?
*I like how the sweat towel on Cindy's shoulder during the first intermission interview was perfectly placed so you could see the Versus logo. You know what? The network still sucks. When does bull riding come back on? Oh wait, after the game Caddyshack 2 will be on! Quite possibly the worse sequel to a movie ever. Kinda fitting that it airs on the primary network that covers hockey in America, right?
*Love the intermission show guys - at the end of the segment a promo for the All Star Game comes up and the guy just says "All Star Game is coming up; you can read it folks." Nice! Very professional.
*So, Orr vs. Laraque ... I wish we had a heavyweight too.
*I like seeing the kid line on the power play - Dubi, Pru and Dawsie - but having Toots on the blueline for it is a mistake, the quiet Russian is too conservative (not a bad thing at regular strength but a negative when on the power play and down 3-0).
*Do you think that Marcel Hossa is sleeping with Renney's daughter? That's the only explanation I can think of why he has been on the team so long and getting second line ice time. Eight points in 34 games. Playing on the second line, or even the first at times. Adn the only reason he is +7 is because all of the goals that come when he is trying to kill penalties don't count towards +/-. As the kids are playing so well, why can't we see P.A. Paranteau up here rather than Hossa?
*Ooo, credit to Malik for a good defensive play - he lumbered back in time to break up a 2-on-1 with Cindy and Armstrong. Hooking is illegal but since he was using his stick on Army rather than Cindy, its ok. Besides, they already gave Pitt a 3-0 lead. How much more do they want to help?
*Doc just confused Jaromir Jagr with Ryan Hollweg, saying Hollweg missed a shot high and wide. Is it that he can't imagine Jagr missing? Or that he actually thinks the Rangers would put Hollweg on the power play?
*I love that the Penguin fans still boo Jagr every time he touches the puck. It isn't like he helped them to two Stanley Cups or anything ... now when he leaves the Rangers, I will feel comfortable booing him because he really hasn't led us anywhere. Getting a ton of garbage power play points in the regular season does not a champion make.
*Well, I'm not sure anyone can dog Hank for this one, he has made some big saves, none bigger than the shorthanded 2-on-1 at the end of the second.
*I honestly loathe the studio gang for Versus. As insightful as Eddie O's observations are, Keith Jones is droll and Brian Engblom is just incomprehensible. Get rid of that ridiculous hair already you idiot. And what makes it worse is that they keep going with their inside jokes on air. Like it is supposed to make sense to the viewers? The show is supposed to be about the game, not them or their oversized egos.
*Why is Versus interviewing Gonchar? Are the Rangers in a meeting, did they not allow someone to take the mic? Or are my conspiracy theories about the league only caring for Pittsburgh correct?
*Eddie O. thinks that Hank will get a huge, long-term contract - one bigger and longer than Phaneuf's ... somehow, I don't think so, and if it does come to pass, then that is a mistake as I would take Phaneuf over Hank. Oh yes, I went there. Its harder to get a defenseman of Phaneuf's quality than it is to get a good goaltender. Look at Ty Conklin, who is tearing stuff up.
*Scott Gomez has gotten all of the best chances for the Rangers. Where is Jagr?
*Why doesn't Malkin get an interference penalty when he runs right at Hank and makes no effort to avoid the contact? Is it because Crosby was passing himthe puck and setting up a possible highlight-reel goal?
*I mentioned Paranteau as the next call-up for the Rangers but maybe they should try Andrew Hutchinson - the guy they got for Matt Cullen. He has 28 points in 35 games and can't be much worse than Malik defensively, so why not give him a try? It might break up the monotony of the Malik/Strudwick rotation.
*I ask where is Jagr and he then shanks a shot that finds its way in under Conklin for a power play goal to get the Rangers on the board. Its cheap but it
*Major props to Hank - he managed to stop a try by Army from below the goal line.
*Wooooo!!! Jagr makes it 3-1 and Hossa responds by taking a stupid, stupid penalty! Now this is getting so stupid/embarrassing/typical it's funny.
*The Rangers really have no chemistry, no flow and little urgency. It was really sad to watch them play so poorly as they 'tried' to come back.
*Good for Malkin, he played well and got the hat trick. How great of it come on a hat night. I wish the Rangers had nice giveaways. Haven't gotten a hat from them in years.
*I love the Rangers youth. At least they had the pride to play to the final buzzer as the 'stars' didn't. Great to see them standing up for themselves, and Marc Staal being smart by keeping Adam Hall close as they paired up because Hall could have hammered him.
*Seeing Renney stand there stone faced and watching Jagr go off with his head hung low says everything. Where is Pat Burns and how soon can we get rid of the moody Czech? And on that note, the three stars:
*PHW Three Stars
3-Cindy - two assists.
2-Conklin - 43 saves.
1-Malkin - hat trick.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Rock Out With Your Conk Out - dude was solid to get yet another win, he is 10-0-1 now. This is the guy who lost the Stanley Cup for Edmonton!! Who'da thunk it?
2-Malkin - he outplayed Cindy and was the best player on the ice.
1-Georges Laraque - he physically intimidated the Rangers right off the bat and they never recovered. That's all that it took.