This is the way the season endsSitting in his ivory tower, Gary Bettman has got to be pretty damn happy with himself right about now. His golden boy can continue his quest towards the Stanley Cup and the perversion of hockey into something unwatchable is complete. You could barely hear the fans for all of the whistles from the referees in the second period. For a NHL playoff game to be so utterly controlled by special teams was a complete disgrace. This wasn't a true judge of who was the better team, it was which team could handle the officiating better. And the stripes came up short in the end, missing the offsides before Hossa scored to win the game - it was close, don't get me wrong, but Pascal Dupuis was clearly over the blue line before the puck cleared the paint.
This is the way the season ends
This is the way the season ends
Not with a bang but with whistles.
--T.S. Scotty Hockey
When it comes down to it, the Rangers got nervous about taking bad penalties and allowed the Pens to press the action after the first five minutes of the third period. They sat back and the Pens came in waves, making it just a matter of time before they scored the game-winner. All told the Rangers were outshot 40-22 and you just can't let that happen.
*For all of the awful penalties, the only one I will mention is the noncall in the second period. Chris Drury gets a stick to the face from Ryan Malone that draws a ton of blood and the four officials completely missed it. The Rangers didn't get a four minute power play and minutes later the Pens take the lead. Amazingly the refs caught it when Drury's stick rode up Malone's and clipped him in the face late in the game with the Pens pressing the Rangers deep into their zone. If you don't want to call it a conspiracy, fine, but at the least it is gross incompetence.
*There is nothing more you can ask from Hank. He made 37 saves and didn't allow a bad goal. There are plenty of fingers to point after this one but none should go in his direction. Marc-Andre Fleury was adequate, if hardly tested.
*Evgeni Malkin's goal to make it 2-0 was astounding. The singular effort to get the puck in, push Paul Mara back, spin and chop the puck over Hank's shoulder was awe-inspiring. What a beautiful goal; it should rank up there with the Henrik Zetterberg goal from last week that everyone raved about.
*On the first Pittsburgh power play goal, Brendan Shanahan stood outside of the blueline waiting for the puck to get to him. Marian Hossa dove to keep it in the zone and went on to score. I love Shanny and respect all he has done for the Rangers and hockey in general, but it seemed he retired before this series started.
*His lack of contribution hurt the power play as well, which was atrocious - as per usual. It was boring, it was predictable and it rarely created worthwhile chances. And since the game was dominated by the officiating, it lost the game for the Rangers.
*If this was Jaromir Jagr's last game as a Ranger, he goes out on a sore note. He didn't create many good chances, didn't take a single shot that made it on net and took two penalties.
*Quick sidenote: This morning the headline of the game preview on the Rangers homepage said "Rangers Eye Crucial Game 5" - a flat, boring pathetic excuse for a header. I put up a post on the Rangers bulletin board belittling it, saying that I hope that the team shows more interest than the website staff. I got to work few hours later and found the post gone and the headline changed to "Rangers Playing For Their Survival Today" - still not great but better.
*Marty Straka played nearly 21 minutes of regulation. I'll be honest, I didn't see him out there once. His utter lack of confidence in himself cost the Rangers on his shorthanded break with Staal and I won't feel bad when he heads out of town this summer.
*NBC: Technically they were nearly flawless with solid camera-work and good audio. Production-wise, NBC is clearly with Bettman in cheering for the Pens. Doc, a Devils fan (and employee, even if his checks come from MSG+), doing play-by-play is annoying and obnoxious. Eddie O doing colour is insane as he is clearly biased as a former coach of the Pens and friend of several of their players. Mad Mike has been hating the Rangers for more than 30 years as a Bruin and Islander. And isn't that Bob guy the same idiot doing trackside work at the Kentucky Derby yesterday? Were there no one who actually knows anything about hockey available? According to his Wiki, he covered hockey 10 years ago in Boston - a good pick for informed analysis. /sarcasm
*Lauri Korpikoski got into the game the right way, with a good scoring chance on a low shot during his first shift. Renney then held him to just one shift in the penalty-filled second period and the Korpedo scored on his first shift of the third. His exuberance powered the Rangers comeback and Renney was smart to reward him with more ice time. I have to say that seeing him wear #22 was strange as that will always be Mike Gartner to me (or even Mike Knuble). Hopefully he will pick a different digit when he takes the third line center position next fall.
*PHW Three Stars:
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 37 saves.
2-Evgeni Malkin - one goal.
1-Marian Hossa - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hossa - right places at the right times to score two goals. He also blocked two shots according to the NHL stat sheet.
2-Hank - too bad he couldn't score too.
1-Malkin - aside from putting together one of the best highlight plays of the postseason, he was a physical and offensive force. He had 10 shots and won six of eight faceoffs, allowing the Pens to control play.