Saturday, January 19, 2008

22-20-6: Defense? We Don't Have No Stinking Defense!

So a lack of planning leaves me watching the game at home and going in to work much later than I was supposed to (so much for my overtime hours) but its ok because I am still getting to watch the game and am pretty much live blogging it. Let's go Rangers. This is going to end up being a long post and I am going to end up being waaay late to work.

*First off, let me get this right, last week we were complaining that Hank was playing distracted because his dad had brain surgery, so the Rangers turn around and hold a fathers' weekend where the players' dads joined the team ... except for Hanks as his is in the hospital. That doesn't seem like a smart thing for our goaltender's psyche.

First Period
*Hahaha, Marek Malik gets a penalty in the first minute!!!!!! That is so awesome; The coaches identify bad penalties as one of the biggest issues the team has and Lurch goes right out and takes a stupid, lazy minor seconds in. I hate him so much. What a display of utter incompetence.

*Boston has Zdeno Chara covering Jagr - considering that other big defenders Hal Gill and Mike Komisarek were able to render Jagr useless, seeing Chara out there against the 'captain' does not bode well.

*1-0 Rangers!! What a fantastic play by Gomez, Malik made a bad pass, giving Boston several good chances that Hank stood tall and stopped. The puck went the other way, Rozy found Gomez and the Alaskan went down the wing, got Thomas to bite on a fake and slid the puck in five hole. Nice!

*Hahaha, they are running that "is This The Year" NHL commercial ad nauseum. The ad's shelf life has long since passed, especially with Cindy Crosby now out an indefinite period with a high ankle sprain.

*The kids are alright; yet again the Prucha, Dawes, Dubi line is out there forcing the action and getting good results. Why can't the first two lines be as proactive? Nice to see Prucha rewarded with time back on the power play, maybe he can regain some of his form from his rookie year.

*So I didn't mention it before but Willie O'Ree dropped the ceremonial faceoff. Breaking the colour barrier 50 years ago was a great achievement, but I don't think race was as big an issue in hockey - at least not as big as it was in baseball - at least from all accounts that I have read. I am not going to get into a race thing, lest I accidentally offend some people with a poor choice of words or a perfectly reasonable image considering the topic and get fired or something. For those that care about race in hockey, I recommend this book.

*1-1: I thought we were done with this bad angle nonsense. The Rangers get spread thin on a long play and Marco Sturm's centering attempt to Phil Kessel hits Paul Mara and deflects past Hank. What a deflating, depressing goal.

*If Greg Moore isn't playing, why isn't he back with Hartford? The Pack has a game today at home against Portland and one tomorrow in Providence. Get the kid some playing time if he is going to be scratched, it isn't like he would be far away if needed ...Sam corrected himself early in the second period and said that Moore was indeed sent down. Smart move for Moore's sake and for Hartford's as Portland has Mike McKenna, a young stud goaltender who has a real bright future.

Second Period
*Another period starts and the Rangers take another stupid penalty early, this time with Bettsy jumping over the boards too early on a line change. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Luckily it didn't cost them again, but Hank again was called upon to make a few big saves. He doesn't seem to be controlling the rebounds well today but hopefully that won't prove to be costly.

*Is Sean Avery playing in this game? Yahoo! had him with six minutes of ice time in the first but i haven't noticed him ...

*Gomez made an amazing play to get a breakaway and he makes a stupid attempt to pass that was easily broken up rather than just taking the shot. I would have thought that his goal from earlier would have given him the confidence to shoot ... and of course the play gets turned around so the Bruins get a rush the other way and the Rangers commit another dumb penalty. Ugh!

*Through a period and a half, Yahoo has yet to post any photos from the game; that is just annoying. You can see shooters in position in the corners, these guys have to get going!

*Aaron Ward has been playing like he played back in Carolina. Why couldn't he be this proactive as a Ranger? What is it about New York that just didn't work for him and Cullen?

*I love how Joe is raving about Milan Lucic. I was saying the same thing months ago.

*In that linked article I mentioned how Claude Julien has the B's playing like the Devils and he is still doing that. Boston is playing that tight defensive game that is making their injury-depleted team of nobodies competitive. Boooooor-ring ... although I would rather see them succeed than teams like Florida, Carolina, Tampa, etc.

*Those Bruins jerseys are just awesome. There is something to be said for Original Six sweaters and franchises. These games are always special and should be treated as such. Before Sam and Joe mentioned that Glen Sather asked Bobby Orr to take part in Leetch night. He can't make it, which is quite disappointing, but I think that that was a classy move by our GM.

*Chris Drury is playing a spirited game. Maybe its being near his alma mater (BU), maybe its just that he is rounding into form but if he can keep this up I will start giving him more credit, lol.

*It really is amazing how far Zdeno Chara has come since he came into the league with the Isles. He is a monster.

*2-1 Boston: Dubi takes a bad penalty and Chuck Kobasew gets a perfect pass from Chara to get a breakaway, which he converted on his knees. Geez, that was nice and they got another power play as Rozy had hooked Kobasew from behind. Pathetic work by the Rangers, good work by the B's.

*I don't think I would have as much of a problem with the Rangers getting penalty after penalty if they were actually earning them - playing rough-and-tumble, board-shaking hockey. They aren't; its lazy, unnecessary nickle and dime stuff, it's disgusting.

Third Period
*Hahaha, my dad picked Mess and Poti for the trivia answer just to spite me (due to my loathing for Poti) and that was the right answer. Typical.

*Less than 30 seconds into the third period and the Rangers - my buddy Malik - take a bad penalty. Who'da thunk it?

*2-2: Now that is the Jaromir Jagr who used to play in the NHL. After the puck bounced off of Chara on the boards Jagr skates it in, does some nifty stickwork to get Thomas to sprawl out and tapped the puck in. For the first time this season we got a peak at classic Jagr - why can't he do that all of the time?????

*Thank goodness Hank is back to playing like the King (buy that shirt!), because the Rangers have been terrible defensively and this game could easily be 5-2. Maybe not having his dad there strengthened his resolve ...

*3-2 Rangers: Avery showed up! He drew a good penalty and the Rangers finally got a 5-on-3 power play, rather than giving one. After Gomez had blown a chance by making a pass when he should have shot, he got the puck back in the corner and smartly fed it to Avery in the slot and he scored! Nice to see a Ranger in the paint, and nice to see a power play goal by the Blueshirts.

*3-3: Mara takes a dumb penalty and the Bruins rushed down the ice to hammer the puck at the net. Shockingly Malik doesn't cover anyone on the play and couldn't get the loose puck so Boston was able to get their fourth try over Hank to equalize. Its really not a good idea to have a slow, immobile defenseman on the ice against a quick power play but Tom Renney wants to stick with Malik so that's what we get.

*That was hilarious!! Gomez swept Rozy's skates out and took him down!! Moments later Marc Staal lost his balance and fell to the ice. This is comical how out of sorts the Rangers are playing. Renney may claim to have implemented a system but watching these guys it looks a lot like the Keystone Cops are dressing up as Rangers.

*So Mara has been awful, Malik atrocious and Rozy has been underachieving so what do we do from here? The Hartford kids - Mike Sauer, Ivan Baranka and Jake Taylor - aren't ready to play and the Hartford vets aren't good enough for the NHL - Hutchinson, Pock and Liffiton (although I think Pock would be serviceable). That just leaves two options - do nothing and just hope for a good crop of free agents after we miss the playoffs or make a deal before the deadline. I am thinking there is going to be a deal ...

*As I was ranting that, my mom was pointing out how great Hank was playing. Earlier I said it would be 5-2 without him, at the end of regulation we are lucky to be even at 3-3 rather than down 8-2.

*Regular readers know I love Bettsy - the guy would be a top NHL player if he had any kind of scoring touch to compliment his speed and defensive skills - but seriously, he has no scoring touch so why he is out on the ice during overtime?

*Now that is the Jagr I know - he barrels over Thomas to put the Rangers shorthanded. Say what you want about Hnidy making contact with him, but Jagr shouldn't be skating that fast into the crease. Renney in the post game puts the whole blame on Hnidy, of course. We need to keep coddling and making excuses for our superstar captain, its worked so far ... right??

*Watching Malik stand next to Chara in the crease made me laugh. Its the two sides of the coin of big man. One good, the other bad. Oh my, I type that and Malik passes the puck to a Bruin for one last chance before the overtime ends. There is really no reason he should ever, ever, ever be allowed to wear a Ranger jersey ever again.

*After one round its even - Hank makes a solid save and Shanny makes a bad shot that gets stopped.

*Hank gives up a bad goal to Kessel five hole, and then Prucha gets stopped going five hole on Thomas.

*Zdeno Chara blasted a slap shot past Hank to win. hardest shot in the league coming at him from the middle of the circles. I wouldn't want to be Hank. But thanks to the Swedish netminder the Rangers got a point in a game they deserved to lose. I guess its something ...

*PHW Three Stars
3-Marco Sturm - goal and an assist
2-Scott Gomez - goal and two assists
1-Chuck Kobasew - two goals

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Sturm - His play opened spaces for Kessel and Kobasew and helped force the Rangers D to scramble for coverage.
2-Chara - Dude was a beast.
1-Hank - Without him, the Rangers lose in regulation by six or seven. A great performance wasted behind a terrible team.

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