Friday, February 6, 2009
29-19-5: No D In Dallas
Let the excuses begin!
Flu is running through the Ranger locker room. The Rangers were without their 'top' goaltender and two of their top six defensemen. The Rangers were up against a really good team. The Rangers were playing in a different time zone. The refs were out to get the Rangers. All of the Sean Avery talk distracted the Rangers.
Wah, wah, waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh.
Apologists can cry all they want but the simple fact is what I have been saying all along - the Rangers just are not that good. They are a flawed ship sailing rudderless and hitting every bump in the ocean. The general manager got drunk on money and ego and built a team without a thought towards how they would actually play together. The coach preaches a safe defensive system that doesn't entertain and all too often doesn't work (it certainly didn't tonight). The coach and the captains don't hold anyone accountable for their actions. Virtually the entire team coasts along without giving their maximum effort. The saddest thing is that the parity in the league has allowed the team to get by and be relatively successful throughout the meaningless first half.
That will change, and if there is a surer sign than the 10-2 loss tonight to the Dallas Stars, I don't know what it is. This has to be a wake up call, has to be the turnaround point of the season, has to be the impetus for renovation of some sort. If not, this team will miss the playoffs and the few hundred empty seats every game will turn into a few thousand. All of that energy these guys seemingly are saving up will be used to improve their golf game. That can't be allowed to happen, not in New York, not with the Rangers.
Observations from the debacle in Dallas:
*If Valley was sick like all of the beat reporters said pregame, and Hank was sick, why wouldn't the Rangers call up a healthy Miika Wiikman? Oh yeah, our GM and coach doesn't trust rookies. That being said, Potter acquitted himself pretty well. He certainly played better than Redden and Rozy ... not that that is saying much though.
*All of you guys want to rip on me for my devotion to the fourth line, saying how they such and can never score. If that is the case, just how bad are the other lines that FCB Ole had the best chances?
*But since you guys dog me for never getting on them, Blair Betts was horrid in the faceoff dot, winning six of 18. Seeing as he took a good number of them while shorthanded, conceding possession in your own zone while on the kill is a sure way to lose a hockey game. It doesn't happen often to Betts, but the timing was atrocious.
*Scott Gomez, Markus Naslund and Aaron Voros - could that be the worst first line in the NHL?? A one-dimensional playmaker who doesn't play with his wingers, an over-the-hill sniper who shows up every four, five games, and a shaved ape with cement for hands (and brains).
*Let me get this right, the Mexican't and Chris Drury go on a 2-on-1 break on a second period two man advantage and Drury misses the net entirely. And they then proceed to blow the entire power play without a good shot on net. And Perry Pearn still has a job. If the two idiots with letters on their jerseys score, it would have been a different hockey game. Instead, not only did they miss, but each ended up costing the Rangers a goal (or two). That's 14 million dollars wasted, yet again. Not to mention the turnovers and poor puckhandling by Rozy and Redden. Just how was Sather allowed to give up the four worse contracts in the NHL???
*While I am asking stupid questions, why does Voros get power play time over Colton Orr? And haters don't start on Colt going crazy going after Steve Ott - at least he was showing some pride and doing something for the team. It was insanely stupid, but it was good to see someone acting out. Better than sulking on the bench ...
*It was nice to hear Sam give Joe Whelan and Bobby Lewis credit for the wonderful job they did directing the Graves retirement ceremony. I watched it when I got home that night and indeed, they did a terrific job.
*It was not nice to hear Joe Micheletti. Man is he annoying, obnoxious and useless. If I hear him make another mistake or say "yeah, Sam, you are totally right" rather than providing actual analysis, I am going to scream.
*Anyone else think that all of the compliments that Sam and Joe used on Steve Ott sounded vaguely familiar? Around the net, relentless, hitting everyone, causing chaos ... I woulda sworn that I heard them say that stuff about a certain Sean Avery fellow ...
*While we are talking about Rangers that we desperately miss, Brendan Shanahan got into a fight tonight against heavyweight Eric Boulton. Brashear, Boulton ... heart, character and willingness to do anything for his team. Thanks Glen!
*Dallas really has some kickass in-house music. It is almost entirely hard rock, which helps give an edge to the atmosphere - something hockey should have. Enough of that Kernkraft Chelsea club crap all night long, MSG should not be as vanilla a venue as the team is on the ice.
*Nik Zherdev may be the biggest fraud in the NHL. Z shows just enough skill to keep his job and ensure he gets a paycheque. Nothing less, nothing more. Both of his goals tonight were the result of poor positioning by Marty Turco, not by any kind of scoring acumen. But at the end of the night, the statline shows two more goals, that's it.
*I missed the first six minutes of the game getting home from work, did they explain why the Rangers were wearing their home blue jerseys and the Stars were wearing their barbecue aprons? I don't get it.
*If the Knicks can sit Stephon Marbury, why can't the Rangers bench Redden? Let him go off and tattoo his head, collect his money and stop ruining the team's performance. I'll take a rookie mistake like the puck off of Reitz's skate that went in but I won't accept the lazy, stupid penalty Redden took in the first period for throwing the puck over the boards even though he had the time and space to make a play.
*Did Nigel Dawes or Ryan Callahan play? Couldn't tell.
*Marc Staal certainly did, and he had the worst game of his young career. Much like with the rest of the team, how he bounces back will be the true test of skill/character/heart/potential. We will see on Monday ...
*PHW Three Stars
3-Jere Lehtinen - one goal and two assists.
2-Steve Ott - one goal and two assists.
1-Mike Ribeiro - two goals and two assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-James Neal - This kid deserves serious consideration for the Calder. Both of his goals came on nice plays by the kid. As opposed to Ribeiro's, which Valley should have stopped.
2-Matt Niskanen - Another strong youngster, the (hopefully) future American Olympian didn't collect a single hit or blocked shot and yet seemed to be right there to frustrate the Ranger attack, when there was one. And he collected three assists.
1-Ott - As my buddy Pete pointed out, listening to the broadcast this guy was the second coming of Christ.