Thursday, February 26, 2009
31-23-8: No Change, Not Yet
The John Tortorella era began tonight in Toronto and it looked a lot like the Tom Renney era - a lot of totally random lines, a lot of missed passes and a lot of turnovers. And it ended in much the same way, losing to a worse team 2-1 in a shootout.
During the first intermission Pierre McGuire said that New York Ranger fans had to like what they saw in the first period and I know I wasn't all that impressed. I didn't see anything different then what I saw in Sunday's first period. A few players played hard and smart, others played soft and dumb and no one scored. The game went on pretty much just like that and the Rangers again escaped with a point they didn't deserve. Sure they made it past an overtime penalty this time but the three pathetic excuses for shootout attempts washed away any positive from that.
There certainly was a little more puck pressure than there had been in previous games (did I notice actual forechecking??) but the Rangers still could not outplay a team that had far less talent then they did. They were outworked by a younger, hungrier squad and it showed. Tomorrow should be just as scary, but as I said before, I'm giving Torts a free pass until the Islander game.
*Wade Redden, shooting? Wade Redden, scoring? Wade Redden, scoring on the power play? Wow. I don't know about you but my mind is blown.
*Good thing Rozy was his usual poor self, otherwise I wouldn't know what to do with myself. For every good play he makes, he screws two or three up. Remember when he was our No. 1 defenseman? I do. Now he is four, at best.
*Thank you NHL Network!! If you invested in the premium channel you were able to watch their telecast of the TSN feed of the game. It was *awesome* listening to the Canada crew instead of Joe Micheletti. There was intelligent, insightful analysis for once; wonderful!! Of course, it wasn't wonderful to hear McGuire give Bruce Driver a Cup he didn't earn (incorrectly saying he was a Ranger in '94) but with the amount that that guy talks, he is sure to say something stupid once in a rare while. With Micheletti, it is constant.
*Then again, TSN spent time talking about how wonderful Ryan Callahan was playing but it was his weak stick check that allowed Nik Hagman to score the equalizer. He was sitting high and just waved his stick at Hagman after the Leaf got out from under Marc Staal. If Callahan lays the body, Hagman doesn't get the shot off. It all goes back to what I've been saying for months and Tortorella said earlier - the Rangers have to act, not react. I would have expected better from Cally.
*Why fix something that isn't broken? The one constant this season has been the good work of the penalty kill and Tortorella decided to switch it up, changing the personnel around. The only reason I can think for him to do that is for the sake of his own ego and if that is how things are going to be during his tenure, we will be in trouble.
*In the postgame presser Tortorella said that he thought the Rangers looked tired in the third period and I don't know about that. As I said up top, I just think they were outworked by a team that cared more than they did.
*Was it me or were there a lotta empty seats down low at the Air Canada Center? It certainly seemed like there were wide swaths of missing yuppies.
*Why wasn't the second period Ponikarovsky hit on Freddie Sjostrom boarding or charging? He lined him up and hit him on the numbers. I am all for that kind of play, but how a hit like that can get Ryan Hollweg suspended and it isn't even two minutes for Pony is stupefying. Yes, I know Holly was an idiot, but a dangerous play is a dangerous play no matter which moron is making it.
*Speaking of morons, the Mexican't side of Scott Gomez made an appearance. McGuire spent half the game pointing out every single mistake Gomez made, and there were alot of them. If it took a first round draft pick, would you trade it and Gomez to Florida for Jay Bouwmeester? I would. (They probably wouldn't.)
*On the other hand, Chris Drury had a pretty good game. This was the kind of night he should have, being as he can't score. Drury worked the crease, battled for loose pucks and led all players with five blocked shots.
*Colton Orr was given three more minutes then he was on Sunday and he made the most of them. The big man was a physical force who made smart plays with the puck and got a few scoring chances. Despite getting less time than any other Ranger, he still led the Blueshirts with four hits (tied with Cally). I continue to be dumbfounded why he doesn't get more opportunities to play.
*At the same time, I wish I could be surprised at all of the opportunities Markus Naslund gets and wastes. The former Canuck captain is clearly well past his prime and every shift he gets is a wasted opportunity to get someone with a future a chance. And what the bloody hell was his 'fight' with Ian White? That was ridiculous!
*At least Naslund can look back and say he played his hardest. Nik Zherdev? Not so much. What was that pathetic shootout attempt? This guy has otherworldly talent, why does he not have any confidence in it and no heart?
*Stat of the night - Rangers won 18 of 54 faceoffs, 33%. That is pathetic, especially against the Leafs. Concede the puck, concede the momentum.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Jaime Sifers - no points.
2-Pavel Kubina - no points.
1-Vesa Toskala - 31 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Mikhail Grabovski - He dominated in the faceoff circle (11-2), was a constant offensive threat and made a smart little pass to Hagman on the Toronto goal.
2-Sifers - I always rave about Luke Schenn but this kid deserves some accolades. What a game. He was physical, calm in his own end and seemingly always in the right position.
1-Nikolai Kulemin - Kulemin learned from his own mistake. He saw how Henrik stood square to him on the overtime breakaway and took away the bottom of the net so he came in from an angle in the shootout and fired a high wrister past Hank's blocker. Smart move by a youngster.