Thursday, January 17, 2008
22-20-5: Cutting Down The Sabres
The Rangers actually won a game, beating a battered Buffalo Sabres 2-1. It was a night that disproved the adage that a ton of goals have to be scored to have an exciting game. Yes there were only three goals but the action was end-to-end with chances for both teams. The game was physical but there were no actual fisticuffs. And everyone - aside from those wearing buffa-slugged gear - went home happy. Some observations from section 329 (and my couch, as I am watching Rangers in 60 as I type this):
*Sean Avery made a definite difference. He was a catalyst, even if his timing was terrible and his wrist clearly was not back up to full strength. Hopefully it will continue to improve so he can go back to being the biggest pain-in-the-ass in the NHL.
*As Brooksie said in the Post (see below post), Marcel Hossa needed to be scratched. Luckily, smartly, happily (for us), he was. And the best part? The Rangers didn't miss him. Hopefully that will be a harbinger of his demise in New York. Nigel Dawes did great on the third line and he deserves to be in the roster while Marcel doesn't. As I said during the game, it's like that terrible movie Twins: Atlanta got the Arnold Schwarzenegger and we got the Danny Devito.
*The Rangers wisely put Hossa on the shelf and kept the third line of Dawes, Prucha and Dubinsky together. Prucha got 8:51 of ice time, Dawes 7:08 and Dubi 6:25 and yet they combined for two goals, three assists and were all +2. Youth is (barely) being served and it is paying off.
*Game recaps will blame Scott Gomez for turning the puck over to cause the Buffalo goal but replays show Jagr half-heartedly back checking when he clearly could have gotten back and broken up the play. Yet again the 'captain' played below potential and even took another pair of lazy penalties. He has 32 PIM this year and no majors among them. That means he has taken 16 minors, each and every one senseless (to the best of my memory). Just utterly unacceptable for the guy who is supposedly leading the team.
*Luckily, Jagr's penalties didn't hurt the Rangers as Buffalo's power play was just as bad as the Rangers. Both teams went 0-5 with the man advantage. Gross. At least NY didn't screw up a long 5-on-3 like Buffalo did after Drury got called for a ghost penalty after Sasquatch, I mean Malik, was already in the box.
*Well, I mentioned the tree, I might as well berate him. Malik was yet again miserable. He made bad decisions, was beaten to pucks, was beaten on the outside, took a bad penalty, managed to put himself offside on a gimme of a breakaway and just stank in general. Time to go ... set him free, let him go back to roaming forests and guest starring in Ripley's Believe It Or Not and those supermarket tabloids.
*Rozy wasn't much better but he again led the Blueshirts in ice time. Renney trusts him, he has 11 goals ... whatever. I just wish Staal had a better game - he was practically invisible out there for most of the night.
*Anyone watch the full broadcast and catch the trivia stuff? What was the deal with Monday's question - how many other players wore #2 before Leetch ... I had said 33, does this mean that I am right? Someone tell me! Also, btw - I am really looking forward to the number-retirement ceremony next week, and I understand that they scheduled it for a night that they didn't think they would be able to sell out the building, but if they had made it for Sunday afternoon's game it would have made for a fantastic PR move for the team and the league as it will be a national broadcast and it will honour one of the best American players of all time, and a rare household hockey name.
*I would be remiss if I didn't talk about Chris Drury, as he was playing against his former team. He wasn't particularly good. Wasn't particularly bad either. But he did look more motivated when he played against his exboyfriend Briere than he did last night.
*As for Buffalo: I missed Andrew Peters and Teppo Numminen (Let's Go Jets), Clarke MacArthur has a really bright future ahead of him, Ryan Miller was pedestrian at best, Brian Campbell showed good flashes (which should be enough to get him an obscene contract this offseason) and Pominville ... Population: Morons.
*And before the Stars, I've always believed honesty was the best policy and because of that, continue my hero worship of Shanny. He sent MacArthur flying into the Rangers goal with 10 seconds left, clearly shaking up the rookie. Luckily MacArthur skated off and no penalty was called but Shanny showed his captainship, gamesmanship, class, true colours, whatever by admitting to the AP that, "It was harder than I would've wanted. It certainly warranted a penalty. I'm glad the guy didn't get hurt. I wanted to knock him down into the net, not into the post." At least he's honest.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Blair Betts - no points, just another great defensive game.
2-Dubi - goal and an assist.
1-Pruuuuuu - game-winning goal and an assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - 23 saves playing behind a defense prone to mistakes and a team prone to bad penalties.
2-Renney - he benched Hossa, showing a - that accountability he had claimed and b - wisdom in not breaking up the diaper dandies.
1-Dubi - as I mentioned, he was out there for just 6:25 but made his presence known most every second.