Life is funny sometimes. At the start of the third period I looked down at my game notes and said to myself, 'you know? I'm glad we don't have that two-goal curse anymore. That sucked.' And the Rangers had full control of the game for most of the period after that so things were good ... then the snowball started going down the mountain and when it stopped, the Blueshirts were embarrassed by the Maple Leafs 5-2.
And that's all it was, an embarrassment. Toronto's young legs took advantage of the Rangers complacency by exploiting lazy turnovers and stupid plays to score five, FIVE GODDAMN GOALS in six minutes. I didn't know whether to cry or put my fist through the wall. Terrible, simply terrible. If I was Tom Renney I would have pulled a Herb Brooks and put the Rangers back out on the ice at the ACC for a few hours. And after that? They would have to clean the arena's toilets.
There are no excuses that can be made for mental slips of this sort. The Blueshirts need to have team meetings about this because it was not just a fluke thing - there have been severe lapses in other games this season but Hank was there to bail the boys out. Valley, tonight, was not. While he probably could not be blamed for two of the goals against, the other three were particularly heinous.
A friend compared this debacle to the Mockery in Montreal last year when the Rangers blew a five goal lead. I have to disagree; this horror show was just like the Marian Gaborik show in Minnesota. Gabby victimized the Rangers for six points by taking advantage of Blueshirt breakdowns and getting good bounces, which is exactly what the Leafs did tonight.
*Of course, the Rangers other defensemen weren't much better. Staalsie was bad, Rozy still has no idea how to play defense, Mara got caught chasing faster players and tonight I am pretty sure Wade Redden didn't play. Girardi was the only one of the unit who could look in the mirror and not want to put his fist through it but I hope he is the kind of competitor that after a loss like this, he still feels some responsibility.
*The NHL's instigator penalty needs to go. After five straight goals against, Sather should have been allowed to let Colton Orr go out there and send a message for the next game. But because it was in the last five minutes, Orr would have been suspended so the night doesn't end with a bang but with a whimper. Pathetic.
*Three straight games, three straight games with early, lazy penalties by Dubinsky. What happened to that veteran poise? Did it get pushed out the window due to his increased skills or - if reports are to be believed - increased ego?
*How long do you think it takes for Rob Simpson, MSG's new ice-side reporter, to put all that gel in his hair? As for his actual work, he is just another benign talking head; I'm not impressed but I have to say he's better than Deb
Ok, onto some happy thoughts
*I love reading lips - after Markus Naslund got upended by Jamal Mayers in the first period, Mayers turned to Naslund and said "You f$#@ing dived." That's awesome and the Rangers came out of it with a power play ... which they, of course, blew. But happy thoughts, happy thoughts ...
*It was fun watching the MSG footage of the Rangers hanging out with Ryan Hollweg. What do you think Paul Mara was saying? 'Hit me like that and I'll beat you like your name is Kaleta?'
*I heart Ryan Callahan. Not necessarily for his goal, but because seconds after this pic was taken of him celebrating he rushed to Scott Gomez's defense after the Leafs ran him. Cally has a great combination of skill, energy and vision and it is just wonderful to watch. He is like a better version of Todd "Heartbeat" Harvey, who was definitely a Scotty Hockey kind of player.
*And Bettsy scored the other Ranger goal on this night. My fandom for the checking pivot is well known and to see him finally able to capitalize on scoring opportunities is simply awesome. Hard work pays off kids!
*PHW Three Stars
3-Vesa Toskala - 18 saves.
2-Dominic Moore - one goal and one assist.
1-John Mitchell - two goals and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Luke Schenn - His bio say he turns 19 on Sunday but I think it's wrong. It has to be; Schenn doesn't play like some teenager. I nearly gave this star to Tomas Kaberle but the kid really looked like a rock out there, especially when the Rangers (meagerly) tried to rally amid the Toronto turnaround.
2-Moore - Forget aboot it, Moore did everything and in just 11:22 of ice time. Moore won eight of 10 faceoffs, had a big goal, forechecked and complimented Mitchell well.
1-Mitchell - Who? Mitchell showed the speed and hands that will keep him in the NHL this year. He jumped all over the Rangers mistakes and powered the Leafs comeback.