To steal a line, the Rangers destroyed the Thrashers the way Sherman marched to the sea. Now that they had a successful campaign against Atlanta, what will they do? Will the Rangers go drown themselves in the water or will they win the war? Maybe it is from having guested at The Dark Ranger, but I am not so optimistic. After all, these are the same Thrashers who lost 10-1 on Friday to Buffalo -- 10-1!!! And the Rangers lost 3-1 to Boston Sunday; the Bruins also played Tuesday, losing 8-2 to Montreal. So while its nice to actually win, what the Rangers do and where they go after this will be the true test. We'll just have to see ... and onto what I saw at the game (pics to be added later):
*Everyone is going to rave about Jaromir Jagr's performance, a goal and two assists will do that, but he really wasn't all that great without the puck - doing his usual lazy hooking and holding behind the play. This time, luckily, Kerry Fraser's hair was in his eyes and he didn't call anything. Don't give me any nonsense, because the same officiating crew missed the puck hitting the netting in the first period. Four zebras on the ice at once, not one paying attention.
*You can't mention the refs without mentioning the boarding major and game misconduct issued on Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovy elbowed Rozy early in the play but no call was made. He then came around, leapt and slammed Rozy, who didn't see him coming and went hard into the boards. I don't know what is more amazing, that Atlanta's best player did something so dirty/stupid (I would have thought Exelby would be the culprit) or that Jagr came off the bench to speak to the refs. Jagr usually leaves the captain's duties to Shanahan, but I guess because it was one of his Czech buddies he felt compelled to make sure justice was served.
*On that play Colton Orr went after Kovalchuk, only to miss as Kovy ducked him. Orr got two minutes for roughing, but didn't do much of anything. Did the officials not want to give an instigator when there was no fight? Several other Rangers paired up with Thrashers and hugged, but no other calls were made. Strange. Orr, btw, also 'fought' Eric Boulton early in the game ... two unskilled goons trying to justify their existence and failing miserably in a short, unremarkable tussle.
*A question I walked out of the Garden with was where did Boulton go? For that matter, where was Exelby? You are embarrassed yet again, and will play the same team again in two days and don't try to send a message? A little bit of fisticuffs would have made for a more exciting third period and much more anticipation for Thursday's game, which will likely be a ghost town after everyone leaves once the Leetch ceremony is over.
*Slava Kozlov wears an 'A' for Atlanta, and should be stripped of it. He ignored the power play in front of him to go for a change, allowing for Chris Drury's clearing pass to go all the way out to Marty Straka for a breakaway that he finished with just the third shorty of the year for the Blueshirts. Straka made a smooth move and put it past Lehtonen for the goal. The sad thing is that Straka should have had a hat trick, having blown an empty net from the doorstep and having given up on another breakaway to make a bad pass to a nonexistent teammate on the far side. It was like Michael Nylander was still on the Rangers ... unbelievable.
*Ok, enough darkness, onto the good: Malik still was soft, still made pathetic clearing attempts, but didn't do anything that ended up in a goal against or even a very good attempt against so that is a nice start for him. Girardi was reunited with Tyutin and they played a fantastic game together. Avery looked great alongside Gomez and Jagr, maybe the trio will continue to click and the team will finally have a dangerous front line. It makes sense from a chemistry point of view - scoring winger + playmaker + grinder = magic. Let's hope that Avery can stay healthy and they stay together for more than a game. And, of course, Hank played a good game. He had one shot against through the first 17 minutes of the game but stayed focused and made a few good saves on his way to the shutout. Two out of three good games ... its a pleasant change but at this point in the year he needs to be good every single game if we are to even make the playoffs.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Straka - one goal.
2-Tyutin - three assists.
1-Jagr - goal and two assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Dubinsky - the kid got a goal, looked comfy carrying the puck ... if he fills out his frame, there is little doubt he could be a shorter version of Jason Arnott.
2-Tyutin - he was involved on both sides of the ice, made a huge hit on the midboards and looked happy to be back with Girardi.
1-Sean Avery - he wasn't baited into doing anything dumb, he sparked Jagr, made room for his linemates and had a sweet goal.