Saturday, January 17, 2009
27-15-4: Windy City Win
Putting the tape into the VCR tonight, I expected to sit back and enjoy a hockey game. Who knew it would lead to a crisis of faith? The 3-2 overtime win over Chicago had both extremes. Moments like Brandon Dubinsky's goal and the two minute five-on-three kill to end the first period had me out of my seat, beaming. On the other side of the coin, watching Rozy chasing after the ref to complain and seeing Tom Renney showing emotion for seemingly the first time ever as he bitched and moaned had me ashamed to be a fan.
And being forced to listen to that jerk Joe Micheletti call it just made things worse. Let's face it, as the replays showed, every call that the refs made was legit. That simple. Where the Blueshirts were smarter in their previous three games, they were sloppy here and deserved to be whistled for every minor in this one.
While I agree that there should be a "let them play" mentality, it doesn't happen most of the time in the post-lockout NHL during the regular season - no matter how many times you point out that 'there is a big crowd in Chicago on a Friday night.' Micheletti's job is to analyze the game, not to step on a soapbox.
That's my job.
*The idiotic new tendency among NHLers to fight after fair hits continued tonight. After Dan Girardi hit Kris Versteeg in the second period, Cam Barker immediately came over to challenge Girardi and the Ranger defenseman accommodated him. Barker got an extra penalty and the Blueshirts shockingly took advantage of it, but why? Why would Girardi throw down his gloves? To defend his fair hit? Why let some bum draft bust threaten your livelihood for no reason? I don't get it.
*Among the second period penalties was a 10 minute misconduct to Marc Staal. We never fully saw why he got it, but it was great. As Renney is too much of a softie to ever lay the stick, the kid essentially got benched after playing a period and a half of immature hockey - chasing after pucks, chasing after players, taking lazy penalties ... Staal didn't have his head in the game and got punished. While one didn't beget the other, the result was a good one and at the end of the night it looked like the lesson was learned as Staal simplified his game and played smarter.
*What. A. Goal. Lauri Korpikoski draws everyone to him as he drifts deep down the wing and swings the puck back to Brandon Dubinsky in the slot for a slam dunk to make it a 2-1 game. Wow. Our Finnish phenom made a remarkable rush and perfect pass. Someone find Khabibulin's jock, it was last seen floating away in Lake Michigan.
*Skate, pull up, pass. Skate, pull up, pass. Skate, pull up, pass. Skate, pull up, pass. I hate you Scott Gomez. And the second intermission interview where he managed both to cry about the penalties and be rude to John Giannone? Heartless, self-serving Mexican't. As I've said, that A on his chest doesn't stand for Assistant Captain.
*His overpriced compatriot, Chris Drury, lived up to his letter on this night. Aside from playing a huge part in the penalty kills, Drury came through in the overtime to tip Wade Redden's soft shot past the Bulin Wall to win the game with his second goal of the night. This is one of the few occasions where the fact that Drury has no personality paid off. Had he been the fiery type, he likely would have emulated his coach and gone nuts over the penalties. Instead he stayed grounded, kept plugging and came through.
*Redden, I guess, also deserves some credit. Not much, but some. He did throw the puck on net instead of passing it away so that's a good thing. Of course, it helps bring him up to par after he didn't cover Jon Toews on the Hawks' first goal of the night, but after so many nights when all he does is hurt the team, we have to be thankful for an evening like this.
*If I was a Chicago fan, man would I be pissed. Just one power play goal? You want to give due to the Rangers kill, but at some point, you have to wonder what is wrong. Then again, if I rooted for the Hawks I would have been giddy over the performance of some of the guys, like Dustin Byfuglien (strong like bull) and James Wisniewski (he was everywhere! 28:23??).
*It was cute having the Rangers dads hanging around and having a good time, but it is long past time that the Blueshirts honour the hockey moms. Say what you want about how the dads gave them their love for the game, the moms were likely the ones making sure they had a clean jersey and a good meal and got them to the rink on time.
*For all of those Nik Zherdev defenders out there, if Z wasn't a one-dimensional player, he would have actually played a part in this game. All of the league's greats play in all situations. Z is not, and likely never will be, one of the elite.
*And I have always been quick to defend Freddie Sjostrom but find myself lacking ammunition in this one. Did Sjo even play? Colton Orr was on the ice just more than half the amount of time that Sjostrom was and he was noticeable every shift ...
*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 32 saves.
2-Brent Seabrook - one goal.
1-Chris Drury - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Mara - 26:59 of ice time, an astounding 8:21 of it on the kill. And he is the Rangers fifth defenseman?? The lumberjack has been the Paul Bunyan of the blueline all season and tonight just showed how huge he could be.
2-Dru - The two power play goals were certainly nice but his work on the penalty kills just cannot be underestimated. Where Gomez couldn't clear the puck out time and time again, it was Dru who helped recover the puck and get it out.
1-Hank - An old hockey adage says that the goaltender is your best penalty killer and the King was. As the players in front of him lost their composure, he was calm and cool and skated off with a win. All hail.