All of the hockey reformists who demand more scoring need only to have caught today's 1-0 game between the Rangers and Bruins to change their mind. The Original Six matchup had end-to-end action, scoring chances, hitting and excitement throughout its three periods and was a delight to watch.
Sadly the Rangers came in on the wrong side of the final score but it was one of their better efforts this season. There is no shame in losing to the best team in the conference on their ice by one goal. None. It was a helluva hockey game and one of the most enjoyable this season (but of course, like the San Jose game, it was not on the Garden ice).
For those that missed the game, the Bruin website actually has a cool blow-by-blow account if you want to check out what happened.
*In the Peepin' Foes I mentioned that the Bruins would use their size to beat the Rangers and they did just that. The first period seemed like the Rangers were playing against their big brothers, just getting smacked away every time they went into the Boston zone. They stepped up in the second before a solid hit by Milan Lucic on the little Nigel Dawes allowed Dennis Wideman to get the shot that Marc Savard deflected for the first goal.
*Now on that goal, just how does Savvy get open? The Ranger defense has the bad tendency to allow the opposition's top scorers to get free in good positions time and time again. Buffalo's Chris Drury on the doorstep with 7.7 seconds left in the playoffs, Cindy Crosby in the last minute of the game multiple times since the lockout - and on and on - these guys are great hockey players, stick a body on them! Granted, if Dawes wasn't fumbling for the puck in his feet, it wouldn't have gotten to Wideman ...
*It is not like the Ranger power play is anything good, but for Tom Renney to sabotage it further than he already has with poor strategy and player choice is ridiculous. How in the world do you get a too many men on the ice penalty while you are on the power play?? Does he have any control back there? I know he rarely shows emotion, but is he even paying any attention? And why in the world would he suddenly start juggling lines late in the third period? It wasn't like his lines weren't getting chances; he should have been changing his strategy, not personnel.
*Perhaps I spoke too soon on the lack of injuries and possibility of seeing new acquisition Erik Reitz in a Ranger jersey. Dmitri Kalinin seemed to tweak his groin (too easy) late in the first period didn't come back after that. Nice timing. But if he is done for a while, let's hope the former Wild Reitz turns out better than Voros has. Perhaps his size will be a big help as the big Bruins D showed just how good a physically strong unit could be defending their netminder.
*While I still think that Petr Prucha deserved to play, Voros had his best game in months. He hustled and used his size to his advantage without taking dumb penalties or overextending himself.
*Shawn Thornton played a big role for the B's in the third period, showing that a good who can skate can contribute. Sadly Renney didn't respond and use his tough guy in Colton Orr at all. Orr didn't see the ice in the third period and played less time in the game than the injured Kalinin did. Instead we got to see the so-called skill players throw ineffective shot after ineffective shot towards the net and not follow up the rebounds. For the one time Zherdev missed on the doorstep, he was knocked away a dozen others and he deflected a good point shot away from the goal. Markus Naslund was completely ineffective and Scott Gomez used his wicked-fast speed to get in deep but couldn't connect on a single good pass. Oh, and he was terrible in the faceoff circle too, winning just three of his 17 drops. Mexican't.
*Uber hottie 21 year old Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone dropped the puck during the ceremonial faceoff. I really don't have much of a comment, I just wanted to mention it. She looks even better than she did in Beijing ...
*I had the opportunity to watch the game on NESN and have to say that Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley are miles beyond Sam and Joe. While Sam does a little bit of a better job than the homer Jack, the Boston boys have chemistry and it really does wonders for the watching experience. Not listening to Joe was truly terrific and it was refreshing hearing an analyst who actually knows what he is talking about and actually analyzes the play rather than mimicking the play-by-play guy.
*An aside: NESN had NHLPA head Paul Kelly on during the first intermission and the players are lucky to have a man as intelligent and well spoken as he is to head their union. Among the tidbits, he said that since the CBA issue is done for a while, they are going to focus on expanding the game to Europe with exhibition games and the World Cup and they are also going to take a look at the fighting issue - perhaps getting rid of 'planned' bouts. This game didn't have a single tussle and you didn't miss the fisticuffs but I still think they need to be a legal part of the sport.
*The Boston crew pointed out that there was a large number of Blueshirts in the Boston crowd and you could clearly hear 'Let's Go Rangers' chants throughout the game. Jack Edwards went so far as to say that there were "too many." Good work to you folks who made the trip!
*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 26 saves.
2-Marc Savard - one goal.
1-Tuuka Rask - 35 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Ryan Callahan - Most of the Ranger scoring chances came through Cally's hard work. The kid showed no effects of the flu that sidelined him last game and came out of the gates flying.
2-Dennis Wideman - Wideman and Aaron Ward were rocks on the Boston blueline but Wideman gets the edge as he last-second lunge tipped away a gimme goal by Nik Zherdev miday through the third period.
1-Tuuka Rask/Henrik Lundqvist - Man, Toronto fans must be piiiiiiiiissed. The Leafs traded Rask away and if he continues to play like this, he will eventually be a superstar in this league. Rask, who was just called up from the A, was calm and collected under fire and looked every bit like the professional across the ice from him. Lundqvist didn't look anything like the goaltender who lost the game for the Rangers in Pittsburgh and was only beaten by the narrowest of margins.