Friday, April 4, 2008

42-27-11: We're In The Playoffs!!!!!

We Made The Playoffs!!!!

We made the play-offs, we ma-ade the playyyyyy-offs ... wooooooooo!!!!!!

And what better way to ensure a spot in the postseason than to beat up on the Islanders. Well, it might have been better if it actually was Islanders and not Sound Tigers, but I love the 3-0 result just the same. I ventured out to the Nassau Mausoleum, aka Fort Never-win, and watched the Blueshirts play 50 minutes or so of solid, if boring hockey to hand the Long Island AHL team a loss. Good times.

*There were a really good number of Ranger fans there, which is great for the Blueshirts and sad for the Islanders. The Isles end their home schedule in front of a crowd not rooting for them. They weren't cheered off the ice, despite losing. Their efforts this season to overcome 400 player-games lost to injury came up way short and they were entirely unappreciated. I almost feel bad for them .... almost.

*The Ranger fans were fun. I was up in 329 - same number section I sit in at the Garden - and there were some good fans in my area. We did the 'Go-oal Song' after the Ranger goals and the guys in the next section over started the fun "Season's Over" chant that rolled through the Mausoleum during the third period. Not surprisingly there weren't any fights in the crowd that I could see; the Islander fans seemed to have given up as easily as their team did.

*As for tomorrow, the Rangers would be wise to give some guys a rest. Tom Renney stupidly had Sean Avery on the ice in the final minutes and it nearly ended up in him fighting again. The game was well in hand and Renney had the firestarter out there to get himself in more trouble. It was an utterly pointless move and Renney had better thank his stars Avery didn't get hurt. He did his job early, hammering the overrated Kyle Okposo a few times and was a pain to the Sound Tigers all night and to risk injury against children was reckless and pointless.

*Funny moment during warm ups - two pretty girls wearing Avery jerseys are down against the glass and turn to have their picture taken. Avery skates up behind them, sticks his head in between them and poses giving a kiss for the photo. Awesome.

*A late broken stick sailed into the crowd - no one got hurt but when do these guys go back to wood? The new sticks break regularly, causing missed scoring chances and turnovers. If they are going to catch air and possibly cause injury, it may be time to kill some more trees.

*I will end the suspense early and tell you that I didn't put Hank in my top stars. He got yet another shutout, but he really didn't have a lot of work. He only had to save 25 shots that included just one or two legitimate scoring chances. One shot did beat him, but thankfully the iron was there to make the stop.

*As for what seems to be a new staple of my blogs - the Christian Backman screw-up watch. He took a bad penalty and was bailed out by stellar killers. He was bad in the Rangers end, as per usual, but made a few decent passes with the puck. As for the other D, Mara had another good game, Rozy played well, and Toots was ok. I think the grind of the season may be getting to Marc Staal, the kid has slowed down and makes less big plays - maybe a night off before the playoffs would prove beneficial.

*Jason Strudwick could easily step back in on the blueline for him. He played wing on the fourth line and was capable, if boring. The one sad thing is that his presence helped Renney to limit the fourth line's ice time and Freddie Sjostrom got just four minutes on the ice. If Renney had been smart, he would have used Shoe instead of Avery late.

*Our Dubi was better than theirs. Wade Dubielewicz was capable, but Brandon Dubinsky was strong in centering Jagr and Marty Straka. He got the puck to them in good spots and worked hard to get his two elders some room. It helped on the power play - with Jagr scoring a pair on one-timers from the circle - and it helped at even strength with him setting up Straka's third period goal.

*There was an Islander fan in a throwback jersey with Denis Potvin's number five on the back. He had the humour to stand and wave every time the Ranger fans would bust out the whistle and chant. Credit to the kid.

*Can anyone explain why MSG is pimping some documentary on blues music constantly? For one, it is supposed to be a sports network, for two, the promos were played throughout Rangers in 60. As a viewer and fan of the Rangers, I could care less. Granted, personally, I enjoy blues music, but I want to turn to MSG to watch hockey, hockey and .... more hockey.

*PHR Three Stars
3-Michal Rozsival - two assists.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 25 saves.
1-Jaromir Jagr - two goals.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Trent Hunter - the one Islander who skated every second of every shift. Hunter looked like the hardest worker on the ice and can skate away with his head up.
2-Dan Girardi - he may be snapping out of his slump of a few weeks back. Girardi made several strong defensive plays, a few hits and a few nice passes.
1-Brendan Shanahan - a few weeks back MSG showed video from the training center of Shanahan working with Jagr on his shot. On this night it paid off, with Jagr scoring two perfect Shanahan one-timer power play goals. Hey Jagr - if you shoot, you can score ... what a concept!!

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