Thursday, January 29, 2009
29-17-4: A Tale of Two Games
I wish I could make this up but I stayed late at work to watch the Ranger game and left right after the second period. I was taping the game at home so I figured I would watch it when I got in. Leaving work I thought 'wow, this may be the best-played game of the season, I can't even make fun of Redden.' So after commuting home, I threw the tape in and some interference made it unwatchable. As MSG+'s replay wasn't until 12:30am, I figured I would just check out the final box score and kill the suspense.
Well, I guess the band-aid theory is a good one - just rip it off and get a quick little pain, as opposed to slowly peeling it and drawing out the agony. For you folks who sat through it, I feel for you - I stayed up to watch the replay. For those that didn't, the Rangers fell apart in the third period and allowed a 1-1 game to turn into a 6-2 loss.
It was pathetic, it was disgraceful and it was more than enough proof that Tom Renney is not the man to get the Rangers to the Cup. As I have pointed out multiple times this season, this coach cannot motivate his players, makes imbecilic roster moves and cannot adapt to game situations. Sure he is nice, but a coach isn't supposed to be the players' friend, a coach is supposed to be a ruthless dictator who demands victory and is relentless in the pursuit thereof.
When a team is as infuriatingly inconsistent as the Rangers are, a change has to be made. Let's face it, you and I both know that the coach won't go but the topic deserves to be broached as this rollercoaster ride is making me ill.
*Was the Colton Orr vs. Eric Godard tilt off of the opening faceoff an ominous sign of things to come? Both goons traded solid punches for the majority of the bout before Orr faded and Godard beat him down to the ice. It certainly seems like a harbinger in hindsight as Renney stupidly put Orr out for the opening faceoff opposite Godard - a flaw in his gameplan. The risk/reward of the staged buffoonery simply wasn't worth it, especially on the road.
*Granted, as I said at the top, the first two periods of play were as good as any that the Rangers have played. Of course, their power play went 0-for-3 and they outshot the Pens 18-8 in the second period without scoring but that kind of thing has to be expected of this Ranger squad. Sadly now monumental collapses are also to be expected ...
*But hey, Aaron Voros got himself a point! Somehow Voros was awarded with an assist when Brandon Dubinsky's feed hit him in the back but hey, it will be something bandied about by Tom Renney when he defends the slow-footed, cement-handed idiot's place in the lineup. To include him on a team that has problems scoring is just foolish. When Callahan came down with the flu, there should have been a call made to Hartford to bring up either PA Parenteau (if he doesn't have to make it through waivers) or AHL All Star Artem Anisimov. Both of them are averaging a point per game - something NO Ranger is currently doing. Voros can't score, he can't fight - that's him getting knocked over by Cindy Crosby ... what can he do aside from collect the salary that my season ticket money is paying?
*Now this may be considered heresy but perhaps it is time for the King to rest. After the game Henrik Lundqvist told the AP that "I just lost my game in the third, totally, and that’s definitely not good enough." It isn't good enough and it isn't like this is the first time this has happened this season. Actually, by my count, it is the fifth. When you consider that Stephen Valiquette has had it happen just once and that one time was as much as the rest of the team's fault as it was his, perhaps it is time for Valley to get a few more starts - even on back-to-back nights.
*Jordan Staal's goal was a terrible goal for Hank to allow but the worse part of the play was watching Michal Rozsival give Staal several feet of room in the corner to make the play. He should have hammered him through the boards but Rozy isn't that kind of defenseman. Sadly, none of the Ranger blueliners are that kind of a defenseman.
*A crease-clearer perhaps would have also helped out on Wang-Tang Letang's first goal of the night as Hank was clearly distracted by Malkin wandering about the crease, allowing Letang to fire it past his glove. Letang's second goal wasn't much better as he forced Kalinin to turn over the puck then took advantage of the room Paul Mara gave him to fire another puck past the Ranger netminder. Another complete failure by the Ranger back end.
*Do you think it is coincidence that Redden and Kalinin were both in the penalty box when Sykora essentially iced the game with his second goal of the night (making it 4-1)? We have gotten spoiled as Ranger fans seeing Blair Betts and Chris Drury all too-often bail out the boys when they are down 5-on-3 but when you have a sniper like Sykora on the opposition, a goal is all but a given.
*Crosby's goal on the other other hand was pure luck. He had a ton of room and time to throw the backhand at the net (thanks for nothing Redden) and frankly, you could have beaten Hank with a beachball by that point of the game.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Petr Sykora - two goals.
2-Sidney Crosby - one goal and three assists.
1-Kris Letang - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Ryan Whitney - His injury, much like Gonchar's, will likely prove to be quite the boon for the Pens as he will be fresh for the playoffs. He grabbed two assists, blocked five shots and skated for 25 minutes - not a bad stat line for someone who has played a month.
2-Malkin - Yes Cindy came out of this one with four points but he wasn't as good as Gina, who seemed to continually press the Rangers deep into their end. Crosby has the flash, Malkin has the substance.
1-Jordan Staal - Talking to some friends a few months back I said the Pens ought to let Staal go. He had the sophomore slump and slow start this season but he proved tonight that he has the potential to be a top flight power forward.