Sunday, March 1, 2009

32-24-8: Is This What Happiness Feels Like?

Several hours after walking out of Madison Square Garden, I find myself wrestling with a strange emotion. I am sure I have felt it before, but my memory is failing me as to when. It certainly has been a long time since I felt this particular emotion but I can't pin it down. Time certainly takes it's toll. Hmm, what could it be?

Could it be ... joy??

I think so! Joy! This is wonderful! However, it is quite scary - another performance like the 6-1 demolition of the Colorado Avalanche, and the Rangers may actually fool me into believing that they are a good hockey team. Seriously!

The wonder that was their performance was certainly helped by the utter and complete ineptitude of the Avalanche. Until the late fireworks, the Avs looked like the Rangers did during the 10-2 Dallas debacle. They were caught flatfooted, they couldn't get much going offensively, and they made some outright stupid plays. Where the Montreal Canadiens were able to jump all over the Rangers when the Blueshirts took their feet off the gas in the second period of that classic come-from-behind 6-5 win, Colorado was only able to manage one goal. (And that one goal was entirely Dmitri Kalinin's fault, of course.)

But let's look deeper into this one, which was a win! Joy!

*John Tortorella finally made the statement that he is the head coach of the team. Tom Renney would never, ever have let the Rangers battle physically the way they did at the end of the game. Colton Orr would have been forced to make a beeline for the bench after his roughing penalty and forced to stay on it. There is no way he would ever have been allowed to kick the crap out of Chris Stewart.

*I am willing to make the argument that Colton Orr is the best enforcer in the NHL. Insane? Hear me out - Georges Laraque's reputation has limited his engagements and when he does throw down (like tonight) the fight is over in moments. It is the same thing for the Minnesota Mountain Derek Boogaard. Laraque has played in just 27 games, Boogaard 47 - and is now suspended for five. Don't even put that idiot animal Brashear in the conversation. Orrsie has played in every single Ranger game, takes on middleweights and lightweights alike and wins, and he has turned himself into a solid shut-down winger. This is the same guy who's head I hollered for last year because he couldn't skate but he has turned into a damn good hockey player and deserves accolades for that.

*But back to this game and sticking with the late violence - any goodwill Wade Redden may have earned from his solid play of late was completely washed away by him essentially sitting things out - he skated around the pile tugging at occasional players while Petr Prucha had to jump in and help out Brandon Dubinsky. Someone needs to tell Redden that the jersey he wears is blue, red and white ... not yellow.

*Even Paul Mara answered the bell when that dolt Darcy Tucker jumped him. As many people pointed out, Mara shouldn't be fighting with a mending shoulder but he didn't go looking for a fight, it came to him and he defended the honour of Charlestown. Attaboy.

*I will get to the goals but the different layers of fisticuffs was just so compelling. Two of my friends ripped on Ian Laperriere but Lappy showed why he is one of the best teammates a NHL player can have - the tough little bugger will do anything and everything to stand up for his teammates. After taking that scary puck to the face, he came back to the game, stood up for his guys in the first tussle going nose to nose with Colt, then called out the opposing coach and the rest of the Ranger bench. Was it ridiculous? Sure, Jim Schoenfeld could have kicked his ass. But it was wonderful. Every player on the Avalanche know that Lappy will go to war for them and whichever team trades for him in the next week will be that much better for it.

*Ok, so the Rangers scored like, what, six times? Insanity! Great play by Dubi and Cally to open the game and open the scoring. Ranger fans have to hope that those two can keep that kind of chemistry going for along time to come because that was beautiful. Cally was a beast.

*We have to be happy for Chris Drury as he finally scored - and on the power play to boot. However, this is still the Rangers and the Ranger power play still only went 1-7. But the combination of one goal for and no shorties against make the special team a complete winner tonight. Drury's goal was an easy slam dunk on a five-on-three and it makes me wonder why they couldn't do it countless times this season. Sure, most goaltenders aren't as incompetent as Raycroft, but still - it can be that easy.

*Anyone else have a flashback when Markus Naslund got his stick stuck in the boards? I clearly remember the Rangers-Stars game when Eric Lindros had his stick find a seam in the glass and the idiot stood there trying to wrestle it free as the Rangers went the other way and scored. Classic.

*Scott Gomez made a great tip on Marc Staal's shot to make it a 4-0 game, made a smart pass to Drury for the power play goal and collected another assist when Naslund's shot found it's way through Razor Raycroft (who was ridiculously out of position). That being said, Gomez's best play came when the Rangers were trapped in their own end in the second period and Paul Mara lost his stick. Gomez recognized it and handed his own lumber over but stayed in the action and eventually kicked the puck out of the zone. That is smart hockey and something we need to see from him more often.

*A quick congrats to Nazzy for reaching 20 goals for the 10th straight season. I still think he is far past his prime and is nothing more than a second line winger, but that is still quite the achievement.

*Between his goal early on and his involvement in the donnybrook, is there any way Prucha loses a roster spot on Tortorella's team? And Renney thought that the kid didn't have it in him ... he 'wears down' ... it certainly hasn't looked that way to me.

*Now that the other scoring forwards have gotten going, it is time for Nigel Dawes to put in a goal or two. He certainly is working hard but he has to convert or be replaced on trade deadline day by someone who will.

*Why is the MSG in-house crew so afraid to show replays? They often show just one angle of a goal and rarely replay penalties. Instead of showing the third period chaos, we were treated to children dancing around. Awww. I don't care. I want to see what happened. This is a hockey game, not some five year old's birthday party.

*A five year old would probably do a better job than Michal Rozsival does defensively. What is it with this guy that is making it so hard for him to keep control of the puck? And he seems utterly incapable of keep the puck in the offensive zone, especially on the power play. Arg.

*Also frustrating - the ridiculous number of Potvin Sucks chants. Enough already. And I think there were more of them during this game then there were against the Panthers, when Potvin was actually in the damned building. So annoying.

*Stat question of the night: they posted a graphic after the second period that said the Rangers had blocked 20 shots through two periods. The official event summary has just 14 for the entire game. What gives?

*PHW Three Stars
3-Wade Redden - no points, no heart, a bad penalty, a couple of blown coverages and probably some payola to the PHWs.
2-Scott Gomez - one goal and two assists.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 23 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - The King looked great compared to the clowns on the other side of the ice but Colorado rarely tested him. Most of their shots were like those of the Rangers in recent weeks, soft shots from the wings that barely challenged.
2-Gomez - The Mexican't finally is remembering the lessons he learned from Lamoriello and is actually playing like he cares. A couple more efforts and I may have to call him the MexiCan.
1-Dubi - His hard work has paid off an his new coach gave him more ice time than any other forward. And you know what? He is playing up to expectations. This was the standard that he had set early in the season when Nik Zherdev was playing like Jaromir Jagr. Now Dubi is proving he doesn't need a big winger to take the heat off of him, he can dominate on his own.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't get to excited...the Avs ARE last in the West and they play like a last place EASTERN team. They are a horrendous hockey club.

They have crap goaltending, their d isn't any better and their forwards play with less passion and emotion than the rangers have all season. Also, they are coached by an ECHL level coach.

Yay! The rangers lit up a terrible team!!! Plan the parade.

Seriously, it is the equivalent of beating the Bolts at the start of the season.

Chris said...

All things considered Im glad the Rangers made it worht my while to trek down from Bosotn to see the game.

I actually came to find you, Scotty, between the 2nd and 3rd, but no one was in your row.

Either way... a much needed win by a team they needed to beat

Noah's Art said...

scotty, you should write a piece about how much you would play each player, at the time of signing, and what our salary cap would be.

for example, no one could have predicted wade redden would be as bad as he has been for most of the season, so you wouldn't give him the league minimum.

nyrmike21 said...

In regards to the Avs, they really were just off their game. When their on, they're a great team. Comparing them to the Bolts or Islanders is disgusting. And Granato is an ECHL level coach? That makes no sense, go back to your stupid little hole. And who cares who they beat, they still won and got two points and that's all that matters. Why don't you have the balls to actually put your name up if your going to call a team out?

Anonymous said...

Avery Update...... Last night I saw the AHL Hartford vs. Portland game in Portland. In addition to the game with playoff implications, the main attraction was #16 Sean Avery. And he did not disappoint........ Portland fans.

Besides not backchecking or playing any defense in the Hartford zone, he took 3 senseless penalties (not agressive penalties) including one with 1 minute to play in the 3rd period with a 3-3 score. He played center(?) all night and refused to put his stick down for face-offs unless officials scolded him to do so. Again, late in the 3rd with Portland pressing, he did not put his stick down so the puck was dropped and the faceoff lost without his participation. Team player? I think not.

Look, I realize Mr. Avery knows his ticket to the NHL is coming this week. But if Ranger management (i.e. GM-G.S.) thinks this guy is the fix and his self-centered style will improve things on the ice and in the locker room, they are mistaken. Personally, this is one circus I hope doesn't arrive at the Garden.

Scotty Hockey said...

Anon 1- Yes the Aves are awful, but have you watched the Rangers of late? They have been worse.

Chris - You musta looked at the wrong spot because I was there. Whatever, doesn't matter - you got to see an entertaining win.

Noah - I pretty much predicted how bad Redden would be - at the time of his signing.

Mike - yeah bud, kick ass and take names.

Anon 2 - Thanks for the update on Avery. As I have mentioned to a few people, you can't really judge how Sean will be by how he is playing in the A - there is no way he would be at the top of his game playing people and prospects he sees as below him. At the same time, I do agree that adding him to the Rangers could be dangerous, especially considering the new coach wanted him banned from hockey ...

Anonymous said...

The AVs are a GREAT team THIS year? Clue in and get your head out of the eastern conference.

They are last in the west and deservedly so. They are very much UNLIKE the blues in the sense that they have been just poor all year and have never played with half the passion or grit that the Blues have shown this year.

The Blues have sustained a sick amount of injuries, and some terrible goaltending early yet they still play hard each and every night.

The Avs have sputtered along each and every night. They ARE in the bottom of the conference because they earned it.

Oh, my name is Jon--is that 'ballsy' enough for you?

Tony Granato has NEVER done well as an NHL coach, so yeah...ECHL would be about right for him. This guy is worse than many guys who have already been fired this year.

Graying Mantis said...

Nice wrap-up, as usual.

I know you love Dubinsky but he is not there yet.

But I think Tortorella has found some combinations that are starting to make music.

As for comments regarding the Avs' level -- considering the Rangers have struggled mightily against the Isles, Sabres, Leafs (2x), an ass-kicking of anyone is memorable. The Rangers have not had a 1st period explosion that carried over for an entire game since last season when they scored 5 against the Sabres in the 1st period of a Saturday afternoon game.

The important questions are: will it carry over to Thursday at the Mausoleum -- that's now become a big game. What personnel changes will be made via trade or waivers (i.e., #16)? Even without a game until Thursday, it's going to be an interesting week of trade wire and scoreboard watching.

Sunny from Calgary said...

how was Z's performance? Besides the skill-less goal for such a skilled player, was he invisable the rest of the night?

Jessie said...

Sunny--same ol'same ol' with Zherdev.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the sneakers to Snoopy. Don't get me wrong -- I love Snoopy, but the width doesn't fit the screen the same way, and I'd rather see your sneakers than the quasi-blurry photo of the Ranger team lining up (during a home opener?)

Scotty Hockey said...

I am thinking I will change the pic to an exterior of the Garden, I just have to find one I like or take one myself ... and yes, that shot was of opening night this year with my broken camera.

nyrmike21 said...

Anon-When did I say they were a great team? And I watch plenty of the Western Conference, of which I prefer it more. They have goal tending troubles and I'm pretty sure one of the best up-and-coming players in Stastny just returned from a long injury. That team has been hit by the injury bug and hit hard. As for Granato, he works well with the youth that he has there. And where did the Blues come from? How do you compare being worse than other guys? It's not as simple enough of the wins-losses, it's being able to cope with different types of teams. The Avs have been amazing over the past 10 years and are now starting to rebuild, why would you fire the coach? It would make no sense to do so because most of the players are young(Guite, Svatos, Wolski, Stewart, Stastny) and firing would make a new coach come in and deal with rebuilding. Case closed.

jetblue jimmy said...

I know I was rippin the French canadian pretty good in the 3rd but it's more my personal vendetta against all teams in Denver. I actually like lappys game alot. I wouldn't mind having him next yr on a line with Orr & Betts/or Korpedo. I think he's a UFA if I'm not mistaken. Sometimes my emotions take over when the fisticuffs begin but lappy is a quality player, unlike that punk Tucker

bill said...

for those who are saying to not get too excited, it doesnt matter, it was clear that tortorellas new styles have take some effect. Now while some of that win had to do with the quality of the avs, that last five minutes would have never happened with renny or the offense explosion. If they keep it up, they have a chance in the playoffs

Anonymous said... said: 'When their on, they're a great team.' (I cut and pasted this, spelling mistakes and all).

They have not been a great team this year at all. Not once. Yes, Stasny is a good young player and they have some others, but they play with no structure, no physicality and no cohesion.

I bring up the Blues because Scotty once commented how bad of a team the Blues are. They aren't. They play like hell and even though their record is similar to the Avs, the Avs could only DREAM to play as well as the Blues.

Yep they are rebuilding, but why do it with a coach who has no inkling on how to build it? I haven't seen one bit of improvement in their team since the start of the season, not on. IT is just the same old garbage since day one.

Be happy that the rangers got the two points, but be realistic about the opposition.

Anonymous said...

When I bring Sean on the 15th, maybe we can get him to challenge Rozy to see who can defend better. U said 5 year old so he qualifies. Rozy may have the edge only because it looks like he can skate where Sean has not yet tried. Also, I will need to remember to have my kids' future birthday parties at MSG since I now see how much u love 5 year old birthday parties. We will have to girl it up for Nicole :)
Long live Scotty Hockey!!!

outlaw239 said...

Am I missing something??? Aren't we suppose to beat up on the weaker teams, by more than 1 goal?? Like when we beat the Islanders and everyone at MSG was Oh so excited. They are the worse team in the league. I am feeling the same emotion as Scotty, JOY!. However I am not calling the caterer yet for the cup party, I will put this on hold.

I love Snoopy. He looks great

Noah's Art said...

very true, scotty. but either way, you should still do a piece like that