There is a whole lot to talk about after Sunday night's 3-2 overtime loss to Toronto so let's just get right into it, and I apologize in advance for the randomness but I tried to keep it mostly chronological:
*One of my favourite hockey memories is sitting in my grandparents' bedroom as a kid and watching as Ray Bourque skated over to Phil Esposito and removed his No. 7 jersey to reveal the 77 he willingly took to honour the Boston great. It provides a great contrast to the rain of boos that showered down on Michal Rozsival as he skated onto the ice during the ceremony wearing 33. And was it somehow poetic justice that after a night of turnovers and boos, Rozy scores the last minute goal to force overtime? Hmmm ...
*Speaking of Boston greats, why were there none included in the Howell/Bathgate ceremony? The other Original Six teams were represented, but no Bruins??
*Somehow Chicago's Stan Mikita received the largest ovation of anyone introduced during that ceremony who were not Ranger retired numbers. It is sad when the majority of the fans have never heard of great players for their own franchise like Andy Hebenton but acknowledge another team's alumni.
*But then again, I said "majority of the fans" and there weren't many of them during the ceremony. At the time that it started, I would say that there were close to 8,000 empty seats. The building filled out for the game, which is just sad - man, do people have their priorities mixed up.
*Ranger Rewind completely eliminated the long, rambling
*He did make mention that the honour for Bathgate and Howell was well overdue, and he was completely correct. Had these two been raised to the rafters 20 years ago, they would have gotten the full ovations they deserved. To their credit, neither one made any mention of the slap to the face and neither one looked the least bit disappointed by the poor showing by the fans.
*It was also poor of the Garden to give away a piece of crappy paper - I'm sorry, a Ranger Timeline - instead of replica banners as they had for the '94s.
*If the Islanders can recognize Bill Torrey with a banner, the Rangers should do something for Emile Francis. It was a shame he couldn't take part in this evening's festivities and you have to hope that everything is ok with his family.
*Was it me or did Lou Fontinato look like death warmed over? Give that man a gray robe and a sickle and watch out.
*There is just something right about hearing "Oh Canada" before a hockey game.
*After a strong first shift to start the game, the Rangers then proceeded to play not to lose for the next 45 minutes. It wasn't until Toronto was finally able to exploit one of the many Blueshirt blueline mistakes and score that the Blueshirts woke up and played hockey.
*The fans were quick to boo Tom Renney for the two Too Many Men penalties but blame should go solely to Wade Redden for the first one. Redden, who had just served his senseless interference call, was supposed to go right for the bench out of the box and he started to. But, alas, the play came by and he turned away from the bench to make a hit and his replacement had already jumped the boards. It is stupid plays like that that help get your coach fired. And if anyone needs to be removed from the Rangers, it is not Tom Renney, it is Wade Redden.
*When he goes, you can also throw out the garbage - Aaron Voros. I was admittedly one of his biggest advocates when the Rangers signed him and he is continually proving me wrong. His purpose now seems to be to get his face beaten in and take bad penalties. That Renney felt the need to put him on the power play is just plain stupid. But then again, Redden got power play time too so maybe it is just a reward for players who were able to fool Sather into giving them contracts that they do not deserve.
*Getting back to Redden for a second, there was a great shift late in the third period when the Tom Renney Line Generator put together Callahan, Sjostrom and Korpikoski and the diaper dandies pressed the Leafs deep into their own end. That was until they passed the puck out to Redden and he had a soft shot blocked out of the zone. And those kids have five more seasons of having that idiot ruin their plays ahead of them ... if Sather doesn't trade them first.
*Chris Drury had 25 minutes of ice time in which he did ... well, did he do anything? I think he helped kill a penalty and a power play or two. But other than that, not much of anything. In fact, Drury was on the ice as Toronto took a 2-1 lead and when they won in overtime. Meanwhile Colton Orr had less than four minutes (in which he drew a penalty) and was quite cold when he was on the ice as John Mitchell scored the first goal of the game.
*Not that the Leafs' opening goal was Orr's fault. Mitchell was left standing alone between Marc Staal and Dan Girardi to scoop up and rebound and deposit it over the sprawled Lundqvist. It was almost as bad as the second goal when Ian White just decided to score and the Rangers decided to let him do it.
*As White scored, they were still announcing Scott Gomez's game-tying tally which was honestly an absolutely stunning goal that just makes you wonder why he doesn't do it more often. Gomez absolutely flew into the Toronto zone, went around the defense and slipped the puck under Toskala. It was gorgeous. It was about damn time. And it had better happen again ... soon.
*Gomez scored that on the rush, Rozy scored the second goal with Hank pulled, and yet the power play still went an impotent 0-3. However, there were no shorthanded goals against so we have to be happy about that. Dan Fritsche scored a power play goal for Minnesota tonight - just thought I would throw that out there.
*Stat of the night - the statistician somehow saw 41 shots by the Rangers. No way. But still, if he did see that many, how come Rozy only had three count? I saw him fire at least eight, most of which made it through to Toskala.
*Here is an idea for the next poll - who is more frustrating to watch, Zherdev or Naslund? Nazzy gets into better spots and then screws things up while Z makes great moves and loses the puck before he even gets to good spots. My money is on Z.
*They announced on MSG that it was Jim Ramsey's 1,500th game. The Garden did not recognize it inside the building - that is ridiculous and sad. Ramsey is more of a Ranger than any of the meatbags currently wearing blue, red and white and he deserved some kind of public acknowledgment of his milestone.
*I am not sure I can emphasize this enough - Wade Redden = BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!
*And finally, you guys are quick on me when I don't properly address anythign negative done by my boy Betts so I have to mention it - Bettsy took a stupid, stupid penalty in overtime that led to the game-winning goal. Yep, it was dumb, yep, it cost them the game. But they still got a point they didn't deserve so the result is far better than what I expected. I'm still disappointed in Bettsy though.
*PHW Three Stars, which were clearly submitted before the end of regulation:
3-Ian White - one goal.
2-Vesa Toskala - 39 saves.
1-Pavel Kubina - three assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Rozy - Sure he was booed, sure he had a turnover or two, but he finally got the memo to shoot the damned puck and he secured a point that his team didn't deserve.
2-Kubina - He is everything Redden was supposed to be - smart, poised and capable.
1-Harry Howell/Andy Bathgate - Two true blue Ranger gentlemen got their just reward, after all these years. Their candor, wit and grace was a pleasure to behold.