The Rangers have now officially ruined the Christmas spirit in New York. First they stop playing after a period against the Capitals, then they never really start playing against the Devils. If you or I put in such a pathetic half-hearted effort at our jobs, we would be fired. That simple.
Listening to Rangers in 60, Dave Maloney and Joe Micheletti (idiot) put Henrik Lundqvist on the hook for the loss with about two minutes left in the game. Don't get me wrong, Hank didn't play well - he should have stopped Hepatitis Elias' shorthanded breakaway - but to place the main blame on the netminder is foolish. The failure here lies with Tom Renney and Glen Sather.
The coaching staff didn't prepare the poorly constructed team to come out hard after their holiday break. And on top of that, they put the team down early with the stupid too many men on the ice penalty and it just snowballed from there. There is nothing positive to come out of this 4-2 debacle on the Ranger side. And the worst thing that makes it all hurt that much more is that the team utterly gave up at the end. After Zach Parise scored to make it 4-2, the Rangers didn't look like they wanted to play any more. There was absolutely no urgency, no interest, no anything. They just wanted to kill the clock and go home. My disgust with this franchise knows no bounds right about now.
*Let's start with that Parise goal. It was the only time that I noticed Chris Drury on the ice the entire night and it was because he couldn't cover the young Devil. Parise got body position and Drury didn't have the muscle or speed to get inside of him. Just as egregious was a stationary Scott Gomez hanging out between the hashmarks just watching the play. The only other time I noticed Gomez was when he tripped over himself and fell behind the Ranger net. These are the on-ice leaders of the Rangers. They take up 14.4 million dollars of cap space this season and, for that money, have given the team 46 points (16 goals) in 61 games with a -20 total. That seems worth it, right??
*While talking about money for nothing, Wade Redden. Yeah. No.
*It being a Saturday game during holiday season, there was a large transient crowd in the Garden. These are people who kinda like the team, but don't usually come to games and are treating themselves, or indulging their curiosity. By the end of the night the one question I heard asked in the hallways several times was "this team is in first place??? Really????"
*I refused to take part in a "Fire Renney" chant that started up in the third period, for the sole reason that there is no way on earth that Renney will be canned at least as long as this team is near the top of the standings. So why bother? Once the East catches up with all of their games in hand, the Blueshirts will be back down to where I predicted them to be - fighting for the final playoff spot.
*And no matter how bad the Ranger power play is - and man is it bad - Perry Pearn is safe as long as Renney is in charge. And that will at least be for another season or two of disappointing disasters. Both Renney and Sather are loyal to a fault, and the product on the ice is suffering for it.
*Conspiracy theorists were abuzz with the reasons for Michal Rozsival's absence but there is likely no cause for it. If he wasn't having mysterious family problems when he was being booed left and right and playing piss poor hockey, then there is no reason to make one up now. Hopefully whatever was wrong with his family gets resolved.
*I say that not because I wish he returns, just because you don't want anything bad to happen to these people's families. With them themselves perhaps, but not their families. And Corey Potter didn't do too poorly in his place. The kid made a few rookie mistakes and was forced to do double duty as defenseman and babysitter for Dmitri Kalinin so what do you expect the result to be?
*Before I get suicidal, I do have to find a positive in the performance. Lauri Korpikoski had an utterly fantastic shift killing a penalty in the first period where he took the puck to the Devils zone, skated around, pulled it back out past the blue line, dumped it back in and then went in to follow it and laid down a hit. It was beautiful.
*What happened to Brandon Dubinsky? He seems to be getting into decent spots but his hands and strength appears to have abandoned him.
*The Devils had both David Clarkson and Mike Rupp on their roster tonight - a pair of minor league thugs. Why didn't Renney sent Voros or Orr out to pick a fight with one of those clowns? There were several good times for it and yet there was just one instance tonight where Orr approached Clarkson and was quickly separated by a linesman so nothing happened.
*Stat of the night: The Mexican't Gomez won two of 15 faceoffs he took in the game. And he is the Rangers' star first line center.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Scott Clemmensen - 31 saves.
2-Patrik Elias - one goal and one assist.
1-Travis Zajac - one goal and two assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Paul Martin - No one will ever mistake him for any of the great Devil defensemen of the turn of the century but Martin played more than 25 minutes, gave Clemmensen time and space to stop the impotent Ranger shots and made some good first passes.
2-Zajac - The former Fighting Sioux fought well in this one, taking part in three of the four Jersey goals. His feed to Hepatitis on the shorty was a sweet pass.
1-Zach Parise - Parise singlehandedly swarmed the Ranger net all night. He ended up with eight shots and one goal but he was constantly weaving in and around the flatfooted Ranger defenders to worry Hank. It was impressive.