The Rangers came into Pittsburgh today on a nice roll to play against a divisional foe who has been reeling of late and all-too-predictable fell flat on their faces. New York allowed themselves to be kept out on the perimeter and couldn't break the ice as they got shut out 3-0 by the Pens.
Perhaps there was too much emotion invested in the penalty-fest on Friday, perhaps afternoon starts don't agree with the players and their precious routines, perhaps this team just doesn't have the leadership to keep the team motivated game-in-and-game-out. It doesn't matter. The loss is in the books and the Blueshirts sullied what had been a stellar road trip with a vanilla loss to a injury-riddled team.
*Henrik Lundqvist should feel bad after this one. Allowing a light shot by an AHL nobody in Chris Menard to beat him over the shoulder is unacceptable, no matter how perfect the feed from former Ranger Petr Sykora. The play was telegraphed and Hank went down too soon. Then he didn't learn from his mistake and dropped to his knees again when Tyler Kennedy skated in alone and snapped off a shot to make it a 2-0 game.
*But perhaps Hank's shortcomings aren't entirely his fault. Thus far this season he has shown an inability to get rolling for long periods of time and after three great starts, why should he start an afternoon away game against a lesser opponent? This would have been a perfect opportunity to get the capable Stephen Valiquette a start and allow Hank some rest before starting against the tough Ducks at home on Tuesday.
*How is this for curious decisions: the NBC production staff decided to put the talent on camera to talk about the state of the Rangers instead of showing a replay of the first penalty of the game, a legit two minute hook by Chris Drury. After the controversy around the officiating on Friday - which they had already talked about - the network should have felt obligated to show the call instead of giving Eddie O cameratime.
*Speaking of replays, they showed two of the Menard goal and both were cut so tightly that you couldn't actually see what happened. You would have thought that NBC would had shaken off the rust with the Winter Classic ...
*I guess kudos are in store for the Rangers not to retaliate to the big hit on Rozsival in the first period, as the goonery surrounding checking lately has reached preposterous levels. But at the same time, why didn't someone take a run at Whitney or Crosby the next shift? Credit to Colton Orr for chasing down Crosby the next period and goading him into a penalty. It is not pretty, it doesn't mesh with the Code, but the league has taken the code out of the players' hands so who says they have to abide by it? That isn't to say that they should run around and cheap shot (or run the goaltender like Matt Cooke did), but targeting the top players and get them off of their games is good hockey. Esa Tikkanen made a career out of it.
*When big, slow, dumb Eric Godard is blocking your shots, there is something wrong. Wade Redden is a disgrace.
*The Crosby dive to get a penalty shot was classic Cindy - undress a defenseman (Redden, of course), then fall down like you are shot when a stick touches you from behind. Just how does his feet fall out from under him when there is a hook to his midsection?
*They don't make them all that swift in Pittsburgh, huh? Late in the second period they showed Steeler fans in the crowd posing for the cameras holding up Terrible Towels and one of them was upside down. SMRT.
*I like Pierre McGuire. He is interesting, intelligent and well spoken - even if I disagree with some of his opinions. His observation late in the first that the Rangers were giving the Pens too much space was spot-on. Getting solid analysis is a refreshing change from the buffoonery we are usually force fed by Joe Micheletti.
*At the same time, when Doc made the joke that "you feel shame when you sit in the penalty box" Eddie O replied "Thank you Mr. Dunlop." Major, major negative points for for that. The original line in Slap Shot was by Denis Lemieux!! No wonder Olczyk got fired from coaching, HE DOESN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HOCKEY. That was exemplified later in the period when Eddie called the Mexican't Gomez one of the Rangers "top players."
*Gomez really is selfish fool. He was on the ice to kill a penalty in the third period and he started challenging Philippe Boucher to a fight. In the Pens zone, while the puck is headed back into the Ranger end. Tell me why he has that letter on his jersey again?
*Why don't the Rangers forecheck? Paul Mara and Dmitri Kalinin looked terrible allowing Petr Sykora to slip in and score the Pens third goal, but if there was a body on Ryan Whitney, then the defenseman wouldn't have had the time and space to spot the perfect pass up-ice ... just like McGuire said earlier, but didn't point out at the time of the goal.
*And another question for you: when you have a 4-on-3 power play with Crosby and Malkin in the penalty box, why wouldn't the Rangers have three forwards and a defenseman on the ice? Putting both Rozy and Redden out there is a piss-poor move by Renney, especially when you are being blown out 3-0. Redden has one power play point in his last 23 games, just what is he going to do out there?
*PHW Three Stars
3-Chris Minard - one goal.
2-Petr Sykora - one goal and one assist.
1-Marc-Andre Fleury - 33 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Tyler Kennedy - I have always liked this kid because he hustles and he did in this game. When he is on, like in this game, he is disruptive with his energy and relentlessness. And his release on the goal was purty.
2-Jordan Staal - Was there a shift when the Pens were deep in the Ranger zone when Staal wasn't on the ice? He was all over the place, on the power play, on the penalty kill ... for the first time in a while, he won the battle of the Staals.
1-Sykora - I never understood why the Rangers got rid of him. Sykora is a solid sniper who is a capable puck handler and is responsible defensively - exactly what the Rangers could use (among other things).