Wednesday, November 5, 2008
10-4-1: Rozy Rocks The Rangers
Now for all of the people who said 'calm down to me, look at the Rangers record, they are still great ... ' Calm down? You want me to calm down? Are you demented? The Rangers, who have never had all pistons firing at once this season, beat a whole bunch of bad teams to rise to the top of the league and now they are coming back to earth. When the Rangers gave up five goals in just over five minutes on Saturday I was upset. Now they lost 2-1 on two shorthanded goals against at your own building against a bad team that was playing on back to back nights? I am beside myself.
The vile horror show that was Perry Pearn's power play continued to have absolutely no power. Playing mainly on the perimeter, they couldn't generate scoring chances and they turned the puck over, twice - TWICE - resulting in shorthanded goals against, primarily due to the ineptitude of Rozsival. That makes five shorthanded goals against this season and 10 power play goals for. Inexcusable. These guys seem to be playing like Jaromir Jagr is out on the ice but there isn't a single one of them who can maintain possession of the puck the way Jagr could. There isn't a single one who could fire off a wrist shot the way Jagr could. There isn't s single one that could occupy the opposing team's best defenders the way Jagr could. Regular readers know I was no fan of the moody Czech 'superstar' so for me to actually miss the days when he stood around for two minutes with the puck on the halfboards means that there is something really, really, really wrong.
If your team can't get up for a rivalry game, if they can't get up after a loss like that in Toronto, then you are doing something very wrong. Tom Renney couldn't find anything in his bag of tricks to stop the bleeding against the Leafs and he couldn't find anything to get the Blueshirts to score tonight.
Markus Naslund's late, ultimately meaningless goal was one that most goaltenders would have easily stopped. Instead, it broke Joey MacDonald's bid for a shutout despite the fact that he was rarely called upon to make an actual save. The Rangers hit posts, they missed open nets and they passed on clear shooting lanes time and time again while MacDonald had no idea that he had made most of his better stops, looking all over the place (he did make one great glove save and another that he embellished, that's about it). The most offensive thing about the Blueshirts offense was the stink that arose after careless turnovers. There was no cause for them to try to force the puck through four players (Gomez, Zherdev) or make foolish cross-ice passes (Rozy, Redden) or to dump the puck in the corner on an odd man rush (Drury, Cally).
To the Islanders credit, they collapsed deep into their zone and out-waited the Rangers. They took advantage of turnovers and persevered despite the best efforts of Andy Sutton, who took bad penalty after bad penalty and should be suspended for headhunting.
Since I am clearly still livid over this embarrassment, I will keep the observations short:
*Wade Redden got rid of his visor and played a good first period before sinking down to the incompetent level of his partner out there, Michal Rozsival. Between the two of them, they make $10.5 million dollars and have little defensive skill, virtually no shot and a tendency to make bad passes. There is no wonder that in a Hockey News poll they both were ranked among the top four overpaid players in the NHL.
*In a game where both teams needed a spark and both teams dressed goons, why was it that Nigel Dawes and Jeff Tambellini were the only ones to get physical?
*And why did the linesmen feel obligated to break them up? And to give them double minors for roughing? The officiating in the NHL is inconsistent and atrocious. Many thanks to whichever ref it was that broke up the Ranger odd man rush in the third period. I wish I could be specific but the stripes don't have their names on the back of their jerseys anymore so it's harder to hold them accountable.
*Dawes, thanks for getting tough - at least tonight. Petr Prucha, thanks for giving it your all. But let's face it guys, neither of you are deserving of roster spots in the NHL, much less on the New York Rangers. You both may be faster than Brendan Shanahan but even at his age, he is more of a player than you will ever be.
*Why was Aaron Voros the triggerman on several rushes down the ice? Does he have a wrist shot that he has never displayed before that we should know about?
*There were far less tussles in the stands in the Garden than there were at the Mausoleum the other week, even with there being nearly the same ratio of Ranger and Islander fans.
*It is funny, usually when things go wrong on the Rangers, Tom Renney starts juggling the lines. On a night when the team could have used the boost from mixing things up, he stubbornly stuck with them. I just don't get it.
*Credit goes to both goaltenders for giving their teams chances to win. While I do not think Joey MacDonald was as good as his save total showed (the Rangers are pros at inflating that number through poor shooting, and Mac embellished his two glove saves) and he had no idea that he had made some of his better saves, he stood his ground. And while the second goal against Hank was one he should have stopped, one goal should not be the difference on a team that has so much money invested in offensive players like Gomez, Zherdev, Naslund, Drury, Redden (ha) and Rozy (double ha).
*Since I do feel the need to find some good in this game, Dmitri Kalinin was far from the worse Ranger defender, the fourth line played well with little ice time and, as lame as it was, Naslund did score a goal. That's what you're paid for Braden.
*The MSG staff put an election update on the scoreboard at one point that showed the early results, which had Obama leading McCain. The Garden crowd loudly booed. Now I am not sure if it was because they were rooting for McCain or because they were upset that politics infringed upon hockey. I want to believe the latter but think it was the former, even though NY is notoriously a Democratic state. The fans who can most afford the inflated Garden prices are the ones who appear to be the ones with the most to lose with Obama in office ... and that is the last of the political talk you will hopefully ever get on this blog.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Nate Thompson - one goal.
2-Richard Park - one goal.
1-Joey McDonald - 35 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Bruno Gervais - Gervais, who is usually a whole lot of nothing for the blue and orange, was all over the place. I saw his No. 8 jersey time and time again protecting MacDonald in the crease, and just saw why - he was on the ice for 25 minutes, more than any other player on either team.
2-Richard Park - I admittedly have been a fan of Park's since his days with the Wild and he never disappoints. You can count on him giving all that he has every shift he is on the ice and he well deserves the A on his breast. With Ruslan Fedotenko gone to the Pens, Parkie seems to have taken the Ranger-killer mantle and his goal put the nail in the coffin.
1-Perry Pearn - The Rangers assistant coach is the man responsible for the Ranger power play and its utter lack of control and capability allowed the Islanders to skate away from the Garden with a 2-1 win. Good job ace, I'm truly impressed that you have managed to keep your job.