Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Just when you think a five goal lead is safe ... laziness strikes and a team not only rests on their heels, they fall flat on their back. That is where leadership - the lack thereof - comes in. The Rangers were more than willing to sit back and cruise to a 5-0 win while allowing the Canadiens to get tons of open looks at the net. You just can't allow one of the best teams in the east to do that, and it cost us dearly. Yes we got a point out of it, but this was as good as a loss. Renney wasted his lone time out early, and apparently didn't have the inspirational speech in his arsenal to spur the team to victory. Jagr ... well, at least he stood up and took the final shot, but his attempt was not that of a superstar. Quiet leadership just does not work in New York - just look at the Brian Leetch years.
We have spoken about turning points over the course of the season, and this may just prove to be the one. How the Rangers respond to this will determine if they make the playoffs or not - that simple. But after watching that, I would say not but I have been told that I'm very pessimistic when it comes to this team of late. So onto some of the ranting I was doing during the game:
*Another away game, another night spent stuck listening to Joe Micheletti. So annoying, so useless. I've said it before, I'll say it again - it horrifies me that people who don't know any better are listening to him and taking his word as law. Also, what is up with bull riding and hockey? Tonight's game is on FSN NY rather than MSG and FSN had bull riding on leading in. When are broadcasters going to learn that one audience does not overlap with the other (aside from my dad)?
*Side note: The Flyers traded a third round pick for Jaroslav Modry today. All in all that should be a decent deal as Modry needed a change of scenery and used to be able to move the puck well. However, Modry's presence alone isn't enough for the Flyers to beat the Rangers, so I'm not worried. I am concerned about the cost - a third round pick for a underachieving has-been is a pretty high cost so what will good playoff rentals cost??
*When Montreal played Philly, Steve Begin levelled Denis Tolpeko with a huge check and Jason Smith jumped in and fought him. Begin took several liberties and levelled several Rangers and no one did anything. I reeeeeeeally want St. Louis' Barret Jackman ...
*Mitch Fritz, where art thou?? With Colton Orr out, there really was no deterrent to players going hard at Jaromir Jagr. Granted, the Habs showed that they don't have to stay physical with Jagr as he was all too willing to dump off the puck at every given chance. He has to do something, anything, to get back the confidence that he used to have. He lost the puck several times by soft poke checks from Markov and that just shouldn't happen. Granted, when Markov let up, Jagr was able to set up the first three Ranger goals, but I am looking long-term here. We won't play every game against lazy defensemen. And if he had any confidence, he would have taken that wide open shot in overtime, rather than try a foolhearty cross to Gomez that was easily deflected away.
*But then again, who needs a bruiser when you have Brandon Dubinsky (hahahaha). I am still in shock that he battled Mike Komisarek and didn't get hammered. I want to point out again that he very well could turn into a shorter Jason Arnott-type as he is doing everything the big center used to do for the Devils back in the day.
*On the first two goals - Malik did nothing and got pluses on both - that is how he has gotten the top numbers in recent years, pure circumstance. Lurch was outmuscled multiple times by smaller players, screened his own goaltender and looked afraid when the puck was on his stick. What a disgrace, but, as I said when he got an assist the other day, those kind of things don't show up on box scores so he is still trade bait. Well, maybe not, the lazy can-opener penalty he took did result in the game-tieing goal ... hmm. Someone has to be that dumb/desperate, right? I mean, if our coach is dumb enough to put the slow-of-foot ape on the ice in the final seconds and in the 4-on-4 overtime, there must be something worth trading for ... right?!?!?
*Another random side note: after the NHL drew rave reviews for the Winter Classic (which I went to), the NBA is mimicking them with an outdoor game next year. I guarantee it won't be nearly as special, inclement weather won't be appreciated.
*Shanny scored the Rangers third goal on a power play one timer from the slot - something he practices every single pregame warm up. Remember kids, practice makes perfect. His second came on a deflection in the slot; if his old body can put up with the abuse, then he needs to start setting up there more often. His wheels are slowing down so if he can be a physical force in front and a one-timer-terror from the hash marks, we will be in good shape. But he has to, has to work on his breakaways. He did the Nylander crawl to the net during the shootout and got off a terrible shot right into Huet. Not acceptable for a future Hall of Famer.
*I know someone is going to say it, but I will pipe in and say that Ryan Hollweg was in the neighborhood for both goals against by Ryder. I don't think they were his fault, but that fourth line is supposed to be a defensive shutdown line and they let themselves get trapped deep and left shooters open. Not good. At the same time, the rest of the team didn't do much better on the other two goals against so you can't point the finger at any one line.
*What also isn't good is the utter lack of class of the Canadien fans. I don't care how pissed you are at a call, you don't throw stuff on the ice. That simple. If the players are mad at the fans, can they throw their sticks or shoot pucks into the stands? I think not (but it would be that much more exciting).
*PHW Three Stars
3-Jagr - four assists.
2-Kovalev - two goals.
1-Ryder - two goals and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-The Kostitsyns - the two brothers made room for their teammates and played some pretty hockey to get the Rangers to scramble.
2-Dubi - Gordie Howe Hat Trick ... magnificent. And the interesting thing is that I just saw something the other day that said the all time leader in GHHTs is Shanny, who had two goals (and one atrocious shootout attempt) ...
1-Cristobal Huet - gave up two goals, but one wasn't his fault, and keyed the victory for the Habs. His poise elevated his team.