Friday, March 14, 2008
37-25-9: Taking Things For Granted
During this recent stretch of games, if the game was tied after two periods, the Rangers would sleepwalk their way through the third period, looking to secure at least a point. It hadn't cost them until tonight, as they gave up a goal to Olli Jokinen seven minutes into the final period and that was that. You would think that the boys would play with more intensity but aside from a moment or two, really didn't. They came in thinking they were well rested and could trounce the mediocre Florida Panthers like they did last month and things didn't go according to plan. Instead of charging towards the net, they looked like they were waiting for the perfect plays and it just didn't happen as the Kittens played the game like they had nothing to lose - and it worked. The Blueshirts need to learn how to lay it on the line, and soon. Also on tonight:
*Joe Micheletti ... ugh. Need I say more?
*While Tampa Bay has found success and often draws huge crowds, Florida has been a joke. Aside from the John Vanbiesbrouck-powered Cup run in 1996, they have also been a failure. Before we start talking further expansion, how about rearranging franchises? Bettman wants to be ridiculous and force teams into non-traditional markets? Move the Panthers to Kansas City or Vegas. If he was smart, the Panthers would be a good fit for southern Ontario as there is some good, young talent there.
*Is it me or was it hilarious that the first tune the organ played was "Here we go Panthers, here we go" or better known in New York as "Beat your wife Potvin, beat your wife." Our favourite Islander is still working as a colour analyst for Florida and there was also a good number of Ranger fans in attendance, as apparent by the multiple "Potvin Sucks" whistles during the second and third periods.
*One good thing about Malik being out of the lineup - one of several - is that Renney moved Marc Staal back up with Rozy where he is back to playing smart, solid hockey. Of course, I typed that a moment before he was caught standing still as Florida opened the game's scoring, but I stand by the assessment.
*I am definitely among those advocating more ice time for Sjostrom. He presses the action, plays with speed and appears to be quite responsible in his own end. He is pretty much the antithesis of Wally Backman, who is an incompetent idiot. He took a stupid penalty, was horrible in the Rangers end, missed a prime scoring chance late and was pretty much the entire reason why the Panthers got the go-ahead goal in the third period. That Sather and Renney think he is worth a roster spot shows how little they think of the guys in Hartford. MSG showed Paul Mara back on the ice so let's hope his return is imminent so Wally can be shown the finer points of being a healthy scratch. While Joe and Sam raved about how he looked, I thought the clip they aired showed him unsteady and far from his normal smooth-skating self.
*What happened to Jay Bouwmeester? He was supposed to be a standout stud but he has really gone far below the radar in Florida. His own teammates really seem to do him no favours, leaving him alone to handle the load down low and not getting him the puck once they get in the offensive zone. He played 29 minutes of the game, but was barely noticed out there.
*The time off after Monday's game clearly did Shanny well, as he had one of his best periods in ages. He skated well, he played his Hall of Fame smart game: killing penalties, moving the puck and putting that quick-release wrister of his on net. Renney should take note and give Shanny, Jagr and Straka a game or two off once we are a little more firmly in playoff position ...
*What is it with Rostislav Olesz? This kid looks great every time we play the Panthers and yet he only has 24 points this season. When we played them last month, I mentioned to a friend that we had better watch out for David Booth, who promptly played a poor game in the 5-0 loss. He certainly showed up in this game and was a constant threat, finding seems to get in on Hank alone. Thankfully the netminder stood his ground and made some great saves to keep the kitten off the board.
*NO TRIVIA?!?!? I know some of the people who work at MSG, but I have no idea what the hell they were thinking when they decided on the ridiculous Battle of the Bands instead of trivia. To have people vote for a couple of goofy guys playing Rock Band or a bunch of dorks singing and dancing (probably while heavily intoxicated) 25 years ago is ridiculous and infuriating. And the fact that a ton of people voted just astounds me. I am sure it was a fun activity, but certainly should not have come at the cost of trivia!!
*And another thing on MSG: the intermission interview with Scott Gomez by John Giannone was awesomely uncomfortable. Either Gomez really didn't want to speak, didn't want to speak about what John was asking or just dislikes the man, but that resulted in a really entertaining exchange. Entertaining like a train wreck, but well worth watching nonetheless.
*Hank is definitely making these recent games entertaining - he is making some big saves, and is getting some help from the ironwork. I do believe that he should get a rest for tomorrow's match against Tampa Bay, but have a hunch that Renney will stick with him. Valley needs to get in a game, and if the playoff run stays as obscenely close as they are, Renney won't put him in. If not tomorrow, then he will have to play one of the back-to-back games against the Isles during the first week in April.
*I don't really see why in the world the Rangers dressed Colton Orr for this game. Was it in case the atrocious albino Wade Belak started taking liberties? That goon can't skate and barely gets any ice time. Petr Prucha should have gotten a shot at getting back into the lineup.
*After the game I usually avoid MSG, NY but caught a quick bite from Ron Duguay saying how the Rangers needed someone to work the crease. Sound familiar? It has been the same old song for months and until they plant someone there, they will be in trouble. Last year Brad Isbister did it to a small degree, and in this game Sean Avery did it a little and it resulted in Gomez's goal. Duguay pitched Colton Orr for the job, which I have to agree with. If Renney insists on dressing him, at least use him to his maximum potential. Let him take hits and provide screens.
*PHW Three Stars - clearly the folks down in Florida are homers. All three stars Panthers in a one-goal game? I don't think so.
3-Jason Cullimore - goal and an assist.
2-Brett McLean - two assists
1-Olli Jokinen - game-winning goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Avery - he disproved my notion that he can't do anything without a foil. He just annoyed everyone and went to the net hard.
2-Tomas Vokoun - 32 saves and the ability to fool the officials into thinking he had the puck under control when he didn't.
1-Cullimore - this guy has lasted 700 NHL games because he is steady on defense and tonight his hard work was rewarded with two points.