Thursday, December 11, 2008
19-10-2: *Whew* We Needed That
So how should we look at the glass? Half empty, or half full? Half empty would be the Rangers got into a track meet with one of the worst teams in the NHL and barely kept pace, blowing two leads before going to overtime and winning on the opposition's bad defense and poor goaltending. If we were looking at it as half full, we would see the Rangers actually following up their shots and crashing the opposing net while scoring three goals in one game. Three!!
Either way you look at it, the Rangers went to Atlanta and took two points with a 3-2 overtime win. The charity point that the Thrashers took almost assuredly won't cost the Blueshirts down the line so a win is a win is a win. They can take the confidence from this one into the Rock on Friday to beat up on the Devils. I hope. But before we get that far, let's look at this one:
*I've been dogging the Mexican't Scott Gomez of late and, to be honest, his game-winning goal won't change that. Aside from his fisticuffs (more on that in a sec), he was pretty invisible for much of the game. Considering how woeful Atlanta's defense was, he should have had chance after chance after chance. The same goes for Nik Zherdev, who I am not even sure if he dressed. But back to Gomez, who certainly can fight dirty. It is really tough to start pummeling a player when that player is being held back by one of your teammates. I mean, I still loved seeing him throw punches at Kovy, but still ...
*I missed three minutes of game play tonight. Guess which three they were ... Yep, the first three minutes of the third period. The Rangers actually scored a shorthanded goal and I missed it. I see them give them up all the time, but to actually score one?!? D'oh! Thank goodness for highlight reels.
*When people talk about teams that need to be relocated, Phoenix and Florida are two of the teams immediately mentioned. After that, maybe the Islanders. Atlanta needs to be included in this conversation. NHL hockey failed in this city with the Flames, IHL hockey failed in this city with the Knights and the NHL is failing again with the Thrashers. They call their place Blueland and that was all you saw as the blue seats around the ice were mostly empty. What an embarrassment. I mean, how can people not want to attend games when they play "If You're Happy And You Know It ..." on the organ??
*Just because Kurtis Foster got his leg broken shouldn't make any hit on the end boards a penalty. That charging call on Dubinsky early in the first period was dubious at best. Nathan Oystrick hit Ryan Callahan from behind a few feet off of the boards late in the second and there was no call made. The officiating in this league is a joke.
*Marc Staal was awesome in this one. He didn't show up on the scoresheet - no PIM, no shots, no points - but he played a strong, strong game. He is getting more and more confident and it is showing in his work on the boards and with the puck. He was, by far, the best defenseman on the Rangers (not that that is saying much).
*MSG named Wade Redden their player of the game because he was +3 and had three assists. If there ever was a better argument for the elimination of the second assist, it's right here. Redden was mediocre at best and yet he skates away from this one with a stellar stat line. He still doesn't know how to play defense and will likely never be halfway worth the contract Sather gave him.
*Now if there was a way to get out of Redden's deal, then perhaps the Blueshirts would have the cash to sign Kovy when he becomes a free agent after next season. Man, even in a game when he gets beaten up by the Mexican't, Kovy still comes through on the scoreboard. What talent; what a wonderful dream it would be to get him on Broadway ...
*Backup goalie vs. backup goalie and both acquitted themselves quite well behind incompetent defenses (except for the Moose on the game winner). The sad thing? Atlanta's starting six defenders make roughly eight million dollars less as a unit than the Rangers (thank you NHLNumbers).
*When you sign someone like Markus Naslund, you want the man to score. When Naslund has a wide open shot on a 2-on-1 midway through the first period on a backup goaltender like the Moose, you have to hit the net. You have to. It is that simple. The refs reviewed the play based on Dubinsky's crashing the net but the big deal was Nazzy missing what would have been a gimme before the lockout.
*Speaking of gimmies, Chris Drury missed a sure goal in the second period on the kill. Could you imagine? If he hadn't blown the breakaway, the Rangers might have had two shorties in one game! But aside from screwing up the shortie, Dru also took a lazy penalty late in the period. Wow, reminiscent of Jaromir Jagr last season. Great work cap. Maybe this C thing isn't working? Too much pressure? It is early yet but definitely something to keep an eye on because the Rangers need Drury to be big, especially for six million dollars a season.
*Money can buy you lots of things but it can't buy heart. And Colton Orr is showing his by making such a remarkable turnaround into an actual hockey player. He has been one of the few Rangers to show up and play every game and his hard work and dedication paid off in a goal tonight. Of course, having Aaron Voros crashing the crease didn't hurt, but that is more of what this team needs. Mark it down - Colton Orr should be the Rangers' candidate for the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy at the end of this season.
*After watching the first period, I looked up that Joey Crabb kid because I thought his performance was impressive. Then he took advantage of the Ranger defense's idiocy to score and tie the game. Most impressive. And the pass from Nathan Oystrick to set up that goal was absolutely perfect. What a feed by an up-and-coming talent. Back to Crabb for a sec (the pic of him was not from this game, but his debut last month): my mediocre research found out that Crabb is an Alaskan who was originally drafted by the Rangers in the seventh round of the 2002 draft who bounced on the Blueshirts after a stellar senior season at Colorado College. Thanks pal. Glad to see you got yourself a shot in the show and that you are making the best of it. Harumph.
*Nigel Dawes didn't make the best out of his chance to rejoin the lineup. I hope he saw what Prucha did during his long absence because he certainly is headed back to the bench after blowing a perfect chance in the third period - the only time he made his presence known at all in this one. Prucha played three passionate games after his excommunication before being scratched for this one and Dawes' lack of finish should get Pru right back in the action.
*Stat of the game: Nic Havelid blocked seven shots. Seven! That's some good defense.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Ilya Kovalchuk - one goal.
2-Joey Crabb - one goal.
1-Scott Gomez - game-winning goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Brandon Dubinsky - Dubi was a catalyst tonight, playing with strength and going to the net. He just needs to do it every night.
2-Valiquette - Let's face it, the Rangers defense was horrid yet again and Valley held down the fort. He could hardly be blamed on the second goal against (Kovy's) and he made the huge saves when called upon.
1-Kovy - Kovalchuk spent six minutes in the penalty box and still spent 24:22 on the ice, where he scored a sweeeeet goal to tie the game at two. The man is a racehorse.