With my ranting and raving here on the blog, I have been accused of being a bad loser. It is true, I hate to lose and I hate to watch the Rangers lose. But I am ok with it when the Blueshirts go down swinging. And that is what they did tonight. They recovered from a early 2-0 deficit but still fell 3-2 to the NHL-leading San Jose Sharks. On the way they outshot San Jose 17-7 in the third period. Did they miss prime scoring chances? Yep. But they shot the puck, they pressed the action and they didn't fold in the face of a very talented team. It was beautifully heartbreaking.
And I will take that anytime; it is why I am a sports fan.
Enough with the heartwarming stuff. We did lose. If you look at the other 14 losses this season, perhaps the only one that matched up with this loss to San Jose was the 5-4 overtime defeat at the hands of Detroit. You know what that proves? That this Ranger team plays to the level of their opponents. And that should be laid at the feet of the coach and the captain - if they can't motivate the troops game-in-and-game-out, then they shouldn't be the leaders.
And onto more of this evening's festivities:
*To a degree, all three San Jose goals were stoppable. The first power play goal came on a telegraphed shot from Dan Boyle that Hank appeared to be able to see, the second came after Hank pulled himself out of position and the third Hank had a good angle on Patrick Marleau but the Shark captain still put it through him.
*Everyone knows that I am a huge fan of Blair Betts but had he not taken the high sticking call to put the Blueshirts down two men, there is no way that San Jose scores two power play goals. It is a sad thing to say but of all of the Rangers, having Betts in the penalty box is the most costly. He seems to know it too, having only taken one minor penalty to date this season. That one also put the Rangers down two men but it came against Florida and, well, they suck ... the Sharks don't and they scored two power play goals.
*Anyone else notice the soundbite MSG played of Joe Thornton talking about San Jose's 6-0 embarrassment at the hands of Detroit? He was smiling!! No wonder the people in Boston disliked him so much. It is the same reason I loathe Scott Gomez. Yes, players have to get over losses, put them behind them and all that but you want your stars - of all people - to hate to lose. Ever. Perhaps we were too spoiled by having Mark Messier here in New York.
*Speaking of the MSG broadcast ... in my continuing campaign to get Joe Micheletti canned, he put together another poor telecast tonight. The lowlights of this game being his perpetual apologizing for getting things wrong. While that is a regular thing with him, one of the worse came when he insisted Markus Naslund hurt his left side while Nazzy was clearly waving his right wrist around. Way to pay attention ace!
*Oh, and Micheletti said that Marleau was left open and scored because Naz went to the bench but the real reason was Scott Gomez was cherry picking up at the blueline. As the center on the play, he should be have been backchecking when Wade Redden's clearing attempt was sent back deep into the Ranger zone. The Mexican't stayed high hoping to collect a long pass and the San Jose center was left alone on the doorstep to score. A terrible display for someone who played under Lou Lamoriello.
*Neither Redden not Dmitri
*How awesomely simple was Nik Zherev's goal? He picked a spot on arguably the best goaltender of the West and put the puck through it. What a shot. Why doesn't he do that against the lesser netminders he usually faces?? Oh wait, that does towards what I was saying back at the top ...
*George Gund III, the former owner of the Sharks who was honoured before the game, has some awesome eyebrows. I wish I had a good pic of those things.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Nik Zherdev - one goal.
2-Evgeni Nabokov - 32 saves.
1-Joe Thornton - two assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Ryan Callahan - Nine hits and a goal through persistent effort from the new Little Ball of Hate. It is a pleasure to watch this kid play hockey. If he gets a nasty edge to him like Beeker had? Wow.
2-Nabby - If Hank doesn't win the Vezina this season, then Nabby should get it. He is just an incredible netminder who was robbed last season. He gave up one bad goal (Z) and one good goal (Cally) while standing tall through the Rangers third period blitz.
1-Dan Boyle - He is everything for the Sharks that Wade Redden hasn't been for the Rangers: a true game-breaking offensive defenseman who is capable in his own zone.