Monday, December 8, 2008
18-10-2: Goin' Down In Flames
Now you folks are starting to see everything that I pointed out once the season started: this New York Ranger team is deeply flawed. The shine from the easy wins against poor teams has finally dimmed and the many fault lines running through the team are deeply exposed for opponents to see and exploit. On this night the light-in-talent-yet-deep-in-effort Calgary Flames shut out the Rangers 3-0.
Everyone that I spoke to, with the exception of Mr. X from the Blue Seats, thought it was a dreadfully dull affair with the home side looking like they were ready to turn in for the night. Mr. X held up the 14 minute long stoppage-free streak in the first period as exciting end-to-end hockey. I countered that it appeared that the Rangers started playing for the shootout after they blew the power play that Ryan Callahan drew on the opening shift of the game. Neither one of us would budge but this being my blog and all, I will chalk that up to a victory. And onto more of my views from Section 329:
*How soon until Tom Renney starts getting some heat for the team's struggles? Renney may be lauded for being a great teacher but he clearly isn't the best motivator out there and he seemingly doesn't want his boys to be comfortable. Renney changes up the lines continually throughout the games so there is virtually no chemistry, and thus no scoring.
*Line of the night, during one of the four power plays that the Rangers blew, from someone in the section next to me: "We need Plaxico on this team! At least you know he shoots!"
*Somehow our chants of "Sloppy Seconds" didn't throw off Dion Phaneuf. Not that the overhyped defenseman played a good game, but he definitely played a part in stifling the Rangers over his game-high 24:30 of ice time.
*The Flames fans seemed to appreciate his efforts, and there were a lot of Flames fans. Considering Calgary is a far ways away from New York, it was strange to see a solid compliment of red jerseys around the Garden. This wasn't the first game that opposing fans have made their way into our arena; there seems to be more this season than in recent years.
*Yet again the Mexican't, Scott Gomez, led the Rangers with a -3 rating. Gomez was horrid; he missed easy shots and blew pass after pass. He would come flying across the blue line into traffic before sending the puck Nik Zherdev's way but his feed was either off the mark or too hard for Z to handle. Z, by the way, had several moments of stickhandling brilliance followed by careless turnovers ... Alex Kovalev anyone?
*One of the few bright lights on this night was the first period play of Aaron Voros. Voros played up to his size and worked the crease like he did way back when against Tampa when he drove Mike Smith crazy. During that win, Voros harassed the Lightning paint all night. During this loss, he disappeared.
*Another good thing to take out of this debacle? Michal Rozsival had one of his best games of this season. He made two really good defensive plays and even played the body a few times - what a concept!!
*Sadly, even without Wade Redden's negative influence on the ice with him, Dan Girardi played another poor game that saw him out of position or a step too late several times. Last season he worked flawlessly with the Fedor Tyutin. Toots was a strong defensive player and he complimented Girardi well. Playing Redden has made the former ECHLer try to do too much; perhaps a trip back to the E will help him simplify his game. Maybe it's time to try him out there with the ever-improving Marc Staal?
*Or perhaps Corey Potter could step in alongside Girardi? The kid acquitted himself quite well in his NHL debut. Potter showed little hesitation going into the corners to dig out the puck and none in snuffing the Flames out along the boards.
*Petr Prucha and Colton Orr both showed their desire for more ice time in their hard work. Of course, neither one can score, but they battled harder than the other Ranger forwards.
*I have to say that I was pleased to see Orr not justify Andre Roy's salary by lowering himself to fighting the brainless goon. There was no reason to fight early on and later it was too close to send in the clowns - not that Orr has been a clown of late, but you know what I mean.
*There was no Rangers Rewind at 1 a.m. on MSG due to the Knicks game so feel free to fill in anything I may have missed down in the comment section.
*PHW Three Stars
3-David Moss - one goal.
2-Jarome Iginla - game-winning goal.
1-Miikka Kiprusoff - 31 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Corey Potter - Welcome to the NHL kiddo. Other teams will score from time to time, but if you avoid bad influences (primarily those named Redden, Rozsival and Kalinin), keep working hard and keep your head about you, you'll do just fine.
2-Mark Giordano - He spent last season in Russia. Russia! Both he and Cory Sarich brought their lunchpail to the office tonight and put in a good game's worth of effort swatting away the punchless Ranger offense and getting the puck up-ice.
1-Rene Bourque - It really isn't a big accomplishment to score a shorthanded goal against the Rangers anymore but his was a doozy. He hustled down the ice and beat Paul Mara on the outside to get off a shot, then beat Mara again on the boards to collect his own rebound before coming around the net to rifle a shot under the crossbar. Pretty stuff.