Saturday, February 14, 2009
30-20-6: A Point Is A Point (Updated)
It is hard to be disappointed by the 2-1 loss to Florida on Friday night. The Panthers are young and hungry while the Rangers are fat and lazy and the Blueshirts went into their building and escaped with a point. They played a good, tight road game and got a good performance by their netminder to make the trip a success. Florida is one of the hottest teams in the league and they very well could edge us out for the final playoff spot once the reckoning comes.
Get used to these tight affairs because as long as the power play struggles, Tom Renney will entrench himself and his team deeper and deeper into a defensive shell to win. And with team starting to get into the stretch run, Renney is realizing that his failures to date has cost them and every single point will be huge.
*They are re-airing the postgame show after Rewind and I just caught Al and Stan recommending that the Rangers put Colton Orr on the power play to work the slot - like he did on Sjostrom's goal this evening. Hey, great call guys, it's just one I made months ago. How soon until they agree with me that Marc Staal needs to be out there on the point instead of Wade Redden? It was the second straight game and the umpteenth this season that had the power play worked as a power play should, the Rangers would have skated away with a win. Meanwhile, at full strength, Staal unleashed some heavy shots that resulted in good rebounds that the Blueshirts unfortunately couldn't capitalize upon. But the idea was the right one and a needed element for the special team.
*It is funny but all those folks who gave me a hard time for my fandom of Blair Betts have gotten awfully quiet of late. I wonder why ... What a great assist on the Sjo goal.
*The AP recap of the game mentioned that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance. Considering his obsession with changing the sport to add scoring, how much fun do you think he had watching a goaltending clinic?
*Nik Zherdev will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season. If the Rangers re-sign him, it will be a dreadful mistake. Zherdev almost never plays to his potential and sleep-skates the rest of the time. His half-hearted attempt at a backhand during the shootout was telegraphed and pathetically weak.
*Now you could also use those same adjectives for Michal Rozsival's play. He was horrible in the Ranger zone yet again, making Redden look like Rod Langway. Rozy just couldn't make a single simple play to get the puck out of the end and it resulted in chance after chance for the Panthers. Redden was his usual soft self but luckily, like Rozy, his partner was there to bail him out. Does Redden ever play the body??
*Look at Rozy and Redden, then look at Jay Bouwmeester. That kid is a beast and unlike the two Rangers, Bouwmeester will deserve the massive contract he will get. He was huge in this one, skating for 29 minutes and making several smart plays on both sides of the ice.
*Does Aaron Voros do anything of any worth out there? The guy is an idiot. All he seems to do is take bad penalties nowadays. Sure Petr Prucha is much smaller but he plays much bigger and much smarter.
*Please, someone get Sam and Joe some paper towels to clean up. They had to make a mess of the broadcast booth over that save Hank made in the third period on Nathan Horton. And you know what? It wasn't even that good of a save. The better part was his initial kick save as they shot had been deflected; all he had to do was roll over to stop Horton, who clearly missed the memo that says shoot high on Hank if you want to score.
*Florida's regulation goal was just like two of the ones they scored on Thursday night - they forced a turnover, moved to the puck into scoring position and got off a quick shot. It would be wondrous if the Rangers could pull off something like that but they would need to learn how to forecheck first (Ryan Callahan being the exception).
*My buddy Pete has moved out of NY and Center Ice picked up the Panthers feed so he had to listen to Denis Potvin of all people. And you know what? He said that the Islander scum was better than Joe Micheletti. Then again, I've been saying a screwdriver to the eardrum is better than Joe so I am not a fair judge.
*While I am harping on MSG, did anyone rush right out to get NY Life after seeing their logo onscreen throughout overtime and most of the shootout?
*Did Nigel Dawes do anything, aside from miss in the shootout (again)? After watching the Devils/Bruins tilt for work tonight, letting Shanny go so this kid could get a regular roster spot seems to be a bigger and bigger mistake. Too old and too slow Shanahan was huge defensively tonight and has chipped in five points in 10 games. Dawes has two in his last 10 and is useless defensively.
*Stat of the night: Scott Gomez went 12-3 in the faceoff circle. At least he did one thing well; Chris Drury was useless in this one. Although I have to say that Dru probably looked much worse then he really because he was skating with Cally, who was fantastic.
*Just how stupid is Brandon Dubinsky? His team is racing up the ice with a man advantage and he instead turns to take on Greg Campbell for a rematch from last season. Dubi has to be smarter if he is going to mature into a real hockey player ... and he should learn how to fight like a man too, leave that hugging stuff for the MMA losers.
*The other tussle in the game was Paul Mara vs. Nick Boynton after David Booth crumpled beneath a Mara crosscheck. It proved not to be much of a fight as Mara clearly didn't want to go - but inexplicably, he threw down his gloves. If you are going to get a five minute major just for ditching your mittens, you might as well use your fists ...
*PHW Three Stars
3-Richard Zednik - shootout game-winner.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 42 saves.
1-Tomas Vokoun - 34 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Bouwmeester - Tomas Vokoun may have gotten the win but Bouwmeester was the rock. As I mentioned, the Rangers had problems getting to any rebounds and that was a credit to Bouwmeester's efforts.
2-Hank - Clean shots, deflected shots, shots on rebounds ... Hank had 'em all. The one goal against wasn't his fault and had his teammates played a little bit better, the Zednik shootout finisher would never have happened. Sure, he should have had it, but the Blueshirts should have been able to get at least one past Vokoun in the silly skills comp.
1-Cally - In a game with end-to-end action and a lot of hitting, Cally proved to excel at it all. He laid several big hits, made some good shots and killed penalties. Cally definitely out-shone Horton, Booth and the other kittens.