Sunday, March 16, 2008

37-26-9: Rangers Get Electrocuted

Ah, two games against two terrible teams and the Rangers skate away with exactly zero points. The 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay is something they will need to take as a learning experience: you can't underestimate opponents, especially those with nothing to lose - a lesson they should have learned already but I guess their arrogance kept them from accepting. The offense barely skated and missed chance after chance - hell, Tampa looked like they were trying to lose the game and the Blueshirts couldn't put the puck. The defense was close to the worse that it has been all year missing coverage assignments, allowing the Bolts to do whatever they wanted and taking stupid penalties. And the goaltending? Well, I had been all ready to jump all over Renney for playing Hank but he played some of his best hockey in months. He was great. Everyone else? Blech.

*That starts with the captain. All of you apologists who leap to his defense every time I say something negative about him can not deny that Jagr missed at least four prime scoring chances in the game. He got himself into prime positions and blew them. In a game where the team is lagging, the superstar needs to shine and he didn't - he was just as bad as the rest of them. And he had the nerve to tell the AP that Tampa "had nothing to lose. Skating up and down, they had more scoring chances than us.” Do you think Mark Messier would let the Rangers sleepwalk through a game like this? I don't think so.

*Remember Mike Smith? He stopped 39 shots when he beat us with Dallas earlier this year. He used his size to his advantage then as he did tonight. Unlike that evening, Smith took more liberties in this one but was lucky that the Rangers were too incompetent to take advantage of them. He made all of 20 saves in this one and nearly had an empty net goal.

*Power play goes 0-3 ... no surprise there at this point.

*I was at work for the first two periods and at a bar for the third so I didn't hear much of the game. I did get to catch Sam making the outrageous nomination of Colton Orr for the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award. And, of course, that idiot monkey Micheletti agreed. There are a number of good guys that are deserving (I voted for Shanny) but Orr isn't one. He is an enforcer that doesn't discourage the other teams from going after Jagr or crashing the net. He is also -13 with two points and 18 fighting majors, at least 10 of which were meaningless tussles with other goons.

*The inadequacies of the Blueshirt blueline were numerous. Rozy was terrible, Marc Staal had one of his worse games, Girardi looked uncertain, and Backman ... well I think I am going to stop calling him Wally. The real Wally Backman was a productive baseball player before flushing his life away and this Backman has produced nothing. He is incapable of playing a tough game, incapable of playing a smart game, and unworthy of the uniform.

*Renney's stubborn attachment to the current lines has to change. I said yesterday that Prucha needed to play - something I stand by - and I have said numerous times that Sjostrom needs to get more ice time. He was one of the few Rangers who pressed the action and he saw less than eight minutes of ice time. Meanwhile Marty Straka was nearly invisible and logged more than 14.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Hank - 27 saves.
2-Jeff Halpern - one assist.
1-Mike Smith - 20 save shutout.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Mathieu Darch/Vinny Levacalier - both were constant threats on the ice that sent the Rangers back deep into their own zone. Darche was wily and quick, and Vinny was a horse.
2-Hank - he played great with little to no help all night long and kept the Rangers in a game they should have lost 7-0.
1-Dan Boyle - the guy played more than 30 minutes - he was on the ice for more than half the game. No wonder Tampa decided he was more important than pretty boy Richards. Boyle's performance really makes me hope that Bobby Sanguinetti proves to be the real thing. I hate putting unfair pressure on the kids but the hole on defense is just getting bigger and bigger.

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