Saturday, April 26, 2008
R2, G1: Absolutely Awful
I am not all that sure where to start. I deleted much of what I wrote during the game proper just because I couldn't stand to look at it. The Rangers opened the second round of the playoffs in close to the worse way possible. They fell into every trap set by the Penguins and lost 5-4. I guess that is a good thing: the Blueshirts were a post away from going to overtime after playing a terrible game that was mostly dictated by the opposition.
The people who are raving about how amazing the game is are just blinded by the score - 'Oooh, goals! Yay!.' Perhaps it was the time off but there was a lot of broken plays for both teams and it just ended up being garbage hockey on bad ice with bad officials. Pens fans are happy they won the game and they should be, the first game of a series is huge. Onto more ranting:
*For all of Tom Renney's preaching about the Rangers needing to play their own game, he couldn't get the boys to execute it. I hate when I am right, but as I said just hours before the game the Rangers couldn't afford to get into a track meet and they did. I said they had to watch out for the dirty play of Jarkko Ruutu and they didn't. I said Christian Backman has to play a simple, smart game and he didn't.
*The Blueshirts blueline was ... ugh. Outside of Marc Staal, the other five defenders made mistake after mistake and Hank could only bail them out so much. They seemed to be funneling the puck and the Pens forwards towards the crease, instead of away from it. And when the Pens tried to play on the outside, the defenders chased them and went far out of position. For all of the offensive upside that Rozy and Backman supposedly add to the team, their defensive shortcomings cost the Rangers throughout the season and throughout the game tonight. Terrible.
*The refs made questionable calls and didn't make smart ones for both sides, which is troubling but typical of the stripes this season. It is something the league has refused to address so far but will have to during the summer. Dubious officiating leads to credibility questions and this league can NOT afford to undergo a scandal like the NBA did ... I am not saying anyone is betting on the games, but to have four officials out there and so many missed or misplaced calls is inexcusable.
*Hank made a few nice saves but gave up some soft goals and that is just inexcusable at this time of year. Luckily Fleury was just as bad but still. Goaltending wins Stanley Cups and we didn't get the goaltending that we need to get the hardware.
*I thought were playing the Penguins, not the Canadiens. Losing a big lead like that gave me flashbacks of that horror show in Montreal earlier this season.
*And despite the post I made a few weeks back, I have to address Versus ... just, wow. A p.r. firm e-mailed before the game asking me if I would put a banner up on this page (for free). I refused because of how poorly the network handles hockey. And let me tell you, they didn't change my opinion with this broadcast: the play-by-play guy was openly lauding the Penguins, the director made bad camera changes, the cameramen lost the puck on numerous occasions, the producer kept that shrill moron woman Chris Simpson involved in the broadcast and that intermission show? Ugh! What a bunch of no-talent hacks who speak just so they could hear their own voices.
*Ok, so before I kill myself or anyone else, let me get to the good stuff. Ryan Callahan and Marc Staal played great games wire-to-wire. Jaromir Jagr took a bad penalty but had moments of sheer brilliance. Sean Avery scored again. Brandon Dubinsky came out on fire. Um ... that's about it from here.
*Nigel Dawes needs to get more than 11 minutes of ice time. All he does is get himself into scoring positions and he is fast enough to keep up with the quick Pens. If the defense can find some semblance of responsibility, then he should be given some more minutes.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Marc Staal - two assists.
2-Jarkko Ruutu - one goal and 10, 10! hits.
1-Cindy Crosby - two assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Tyler Kennedy - I hate the fact that they have this kid because I love the way he plays. He presses the action, makes smart decisions with the puck and skates every second.
2-Marc Staal - Its like Shawshank: he swam through sewage and came out clean on the other side. Three hits, two blocked shots, two assists and plus two.
1-Ryan Malone - Malkin was barely there, Cindy made a few nice passes but was far from the game-breaker. Malone played as close to a perfect power forward game as possible without actually scoring (he had two assists). He moved the puck, took good shots, played in traffic, laid down some good hits.