Sunday, November 9, 2008
11-5-1: Can't Run With The Kids
The Rangers went to a hockey game and a track meet broke out. The Blueshirts struggled to keep up with the young talent that Washington has done so well to stockpile. If not for that Swedish goaltender guy, they would have been blown out by the Caps, rather than falling just 3-1.
The most unfortunate thing that we are finding out about this team is that Henrik Lundqvist can't play on the power play. Yes, the lone Ranger goal tonight came with the man advantage but that was Tom Poti being Tom Poti by knocking in a goal on his own team. When the Rangers were gifted the perfect opportunity to at least force overtime with a power play in the waning minutes of the game, the special team was completely impotent - even when they went up 6-on-4 with Hank on the bench.
I have said that the Rangers record has been misleading and I am sadly being proven right. Don't be fooled by the trouncing of Tampa they other night, this is not a top flight team in Broadway. Most of the pieces may be there, but they aren't playing like it.
*The lone exception of that being Hank. His save on the wide-open Ovechkin in the slot was fantastic and seeing Ovie celebrating prematurely, then sitting there on the ice in shock was even better.
*You would think that having Hank mean so very much to the fortunes of the team, they would return the favour and protect him but they don't. In this one he was viciously ran twice and there was absolutely no retribution.
*Speaking of that, this goes back to the last game - without the instigator penalty and with the tighter calling of the rules, there is no protection for goaltenders. Tom Renney holds a tight rein on their physical play and will not allow his team to play tough, especially if it could result in a game misconduct. After Hank got knocked over, the first thing the Rangers should have done was run Johnson. When Voros finally made contact with Johnson, it was late in the period and it was Johnson's fault, as he was out of the crease. Unlike the power play, the Rangers penalty kill has been stellar so there should be little apprehension when it comes to sending a message. Too bad that isn't how Renney operates ...
*One guy who has continued to play tough has been Ryan Callahan, but the kid has to get more confidence in his shot. He too often defers to his linemates and he had a good first period break broken up by trying to feed Scott Gomez - who can't seem to score nowadays anyway, even if the puck had made it across the ice to him. He played 24 minutes, more than any other player in the game, and had just one shot on net. And he is getting paid how much?
*Chris Drury put in a hat trick against the Bolts so you would think it would have done wonders for his confidence but his half-assed attempt at the penalty shot was shameful. He barely made a deke and didn't seem to see Johnson coming as he reached out with the poke check.
*It is pathetic that the officiating is playing such a big part in deciding most every game nowadays. How Alex Semin was not called for goaltender interference when he made absolutely no attempt to avoid the goaltender is beyond me - the refs have called it on the Rangers for even less contact several times this season. Had Semin been sent to the box, then Poti would not have had a chance to score what would have been the game-winner. I don't ask for the officiating to work for the Rangers, I just ask that they do their job.
*Interesting stat of the game? Brandon Dubinsky went 1-12 at the faceoff dot. What happened to this kid? Is he broken up that his governor didn't make it to the White House?
*As frustrating as watching this loss was, it is a lot better than what the Islanders' five fans are struggling through. They stink. They've blown leads in four of their last five games to lose. Painful and pathetic. I almost feel bad for them. Almost. (Not really.)
*How is it that on a team with Gomez, Drury, Markus Naslund and Nik Zherdev that the best scoring chance that the Rangers got was by Colton Orr?
*PHW Three Stars
3-Boyd Gordon - one assist.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 25 saves.
1-Brent Johnson - 28 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - He managed to keep his head and keep the Rangers in the game despite getting hit twice and getting screwed on both Caps goals.
2-Alex Ovechkin - It didn't matter that Ovechkin didn't get on the scoresheet because he did everything else. He was a constant threat, he laid down big hits and he probably saved a goal by hooking Drury on that shorthanded breakaway.
1-Alex Semin - The other Alex had a goal, an assist, and a good hit on the goaltender that he got away with. That's like a Sean Avery Hat Trick or something.