Wednesday, March 5, 2008
34-24-9: Sound Tigers Win Shootout
Before I go on and bash the living hell out of this abortion of a game, I do want to say that I am thankful that the Rangers point streak has continued. Granted, we gave two points to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (they aren't the Islanders - that team that was on the ice was an AHL squad), but we still got a point out of game that we really didn't deserve. Ok, now onto the ranting:
*My biggest issue to come out of the game really was the officiating, and I rarely turn to the stripes. But in this game, the crew of Rob Martell and Chris Lee were utterly incompetent. I counted six blatant penalties that weren't called despite taking place within a few feet of the officials. Five of those were on the Sound Tigers - three interference calls, a slash and a trip - and all were in their end that caused Ranger plays to break down. The Rangers blow enough plays on their own, there is no need for the refs to allow illegal activities to help them out.
*Aside from how awful the stripes were in missing blatant calls, they just showed how utterly inconsistent officiating has been this season. Brendan Witt chased down Sean Avery in the first period and the two traded blows. The officials came in to break it up and Witt wouldn't go to the box, he hung on the linesman as Avery was being pulled to the box jawing and shoving the entire way. Avery got a 10 minute misconduct for essentially the same thing in Carolina and here? nothing for Witt. Be good, be bad, at least be consistent.
*Witt hounded Jagr most of the game, and that's fine as Jagr's best use has been as a decoy of late. He can't score, he barely skates for 95% of the game and he takes atrocious lazy penalties. Joe and Sam were saying how he was dominating play early in the game but neither I nor anyone else around my section or at the bar after the game saw it that way. And now he is playing chicken and bowing out of shootouts again? Unacceptable actions for a man wearing the C. He shows flashes of the player he once was but just can't be relied upon anymore.
*For the other side of the leadership issue, Tom Renney has got to show some kind of flash of knowing what he is doing. I don't see why he seemingly refuses to use his timeout with an offensive zone faceoff with time ticking down. Is he so arrogant to believe that he prepared the players so well that they don't need to be told what to do? Over the course of playing a game the coaching staff has to see what the opponent is doing or not doing, and should be able to adjust as such. Rather than pull the Rangers over and diagram a play, he stands there and the Rangers do the same old nonsense, losing the faceoff, or losing the puck ... killing the clock till the buzzer. What's that quote? No battleplan survives contact with the enemy? Well, take a second, let the guys rest and figure out a way to win the damned game.
*We certainly shouldn't be playing for a shootout, especially with Hank in net. The pauper is a mere shadow of his former royal self. Some people are saying how he is slinking deeper into the net but I don't think that is as much of a problem as how he becomes jumpy - it is a big problem, but other goaltenders play deep and succeed. He doesn't have the swagger that he had, he gives up a bad goal and that begets another soft goal, and another ... not to mention that he went from being one of the best goalies in the skill competition - I mean shootout - to one of the worst. Whatever is wrong, he needs to figure it out. Now isn't the time for him to play through it ... we have a capable netminder who hasn't been sloppy and has been winning. We need to use him until the King returns to the building.
*It doesn't help that the defense hasn't been that helpful of late. Girardi and Tyutin have been consistently adequate but not much more. Rozy has had a few good defensive flashes but continues to play alongside Malik, who ... do I even need to say? And the biggest shame, even worse than Malik's continuing to dress, is that Wally Backman is proving to be an anchor dragging down Marc Staal. The kid is trying to do more to make up for the ineptness of his new partner and is making more mistakes. He has had two of his worse outings this season in the last two games.
*MSG trivia was "how many goals did Dave Maloney score against the Islanders in his career." Are you serious? That is the best question that they can come up with in a rivalry game? How many goals did a mediocre player who is now a babbling commentator scored against the Isles 20 years ago? Give me a break!
*Shanny missed several scoring chances in the game and looked like he was having trouble getting up and down the ice in spots. Maybe its time to use him a little less so he will be in good shape when we really need him. He should take a couple of games off and give a Hartford kid or two some time - just in case they need to be called upon with any late injuries. Yes he has been one of our best players but priorities are priorities. We will need everything he has left for the playoffs.
*Where was Gomez in this one? I mean, he managed two assists but Dubi seemed to be the lone Ranger who was skating the puck through the neutral zone. There was a huge exception though: Gomer did skate it though on the Cally shorthanded goal ... and speaking of him, I think he was our best player in the game. He played with the same vigor and jump that the Sound Tiger kids had and was able to keep pace. He was the fastest Ranger and yet he didn't play a second of the 4-on-4 overtime. That is utterly unacceptable and goes back to my sincere belief that Renney can't adapt his coaching to what is happening on the ice.
*As for the crowd in this one, it seemed pretty tame, which sucks for a rivalry game. I saw one actual fight happen - in my section. Some guy was harassing the couple in front of him and the girl turned around and belted him a half dozen times, despite being held by her much-bigger boyfriend. I was impressed, and loved the fact that security came and kicked the guy out without even saying a word to Leila Ali.
*The Blueshirts brawler Colton Orr barely played, or at least barely made his presence known, which is a shame. Without Simon the Sound Tigers have no real goon so this was a prime game where he could have and should have used his physical play to intimidate. Sjostrom had an adequate game, and is proving to be a solid addition. Bettsy ... I really think that there is something wrong with his eyesight - when he goes to shoot the puck the only thing he can see is the logo on the goalie's jersey. Such a shame.
*And I just have to go back to this: The team we faced tonight is a prime reason why the NHL needs to stop looking at expansion and should consider contraction for the sake of quality of play. Perhaps three or four players on their roster would start on other teams, and that is being generous. The Rangers faced an extremely well-coached minor league team and lost to them. Ugh.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Gomez - two assists.
2-Callahan - goal.
1-Jeff Tamballini - shootout game-winner.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Brendan Witt - he played his usual neanderthal game and got Jagr and Avery both off of theirs. Kudos.
2-Ted Nolan - he led a bunch of gritty nobodies to a win in Madison Square Garden.
1-Callahan - he skated hard and fast, scored a big goal and forced the action.