So much for that win streak. It was nice while it lasted. After three straight wins, the honeymoon ended in Carolina as the Rangers were outhustled and outworked on their way to a 3-0 loss to the Hurricanes. The former Whalers used their speed and tenacity to get power plays and then they exploited the incompetence of $11.5 million of wasted salary to get the puck past an otherwise perfect Stephen Valiquette.
If it sounds a whole lot like the Tom Renney Rangers, you would be partially right. Tortorella's team was more aggressive on the forecheck and didn't show much of the same reservations shooting the puck. But at the end of the night, the Rangers couldn't score and their stupid mistakes gave the game away.
If John Tortorella really wants to make a statement that his players need to be accountable then he needs to scratch Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden. Instead of trying to justify their salaries by putting them over the boards time and time again, take them out for their transgressions. Rozy was at fault for the first goal against and Redden the second and neither contributed anything on the other side of the ice.
Then again, few Rangers did well in the Carolina end. Sure there were a half dozen or so scoring chances, but the Blueshirts couldn't get any kind of offensive flow going and went offsides way too many times. Their best chances came when they were just as aggressive as the Canes were and - of course - Sean Avery, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan were right in the middle of most of them. It was the same old story - the kids and low money guys working for a living while the big money mongrels let themselves get picked out of the play all too often. Gomez went to the net hard once, got in a tussle then reverted back to his same-old circling self. Markus Naslund didn't take a shot inside of five feet from the net. Drury ... trainwreck outside of the no-goal. Z had some moments but he couldn't get through the physical defense most of the time. Borat didn't finish a single hit and let himself get picked out of a few plays. Not to mention his penalty.
I thought sloppiness and laziness were going to be eradicated with this new coach?
*All that talk about Torts not being big on using four lines finally proved true as the fourth liners got just over four minutes of regular strength ice time. Nice way to reward their hard effort night after night by making them watch Gomez skate back into his own zone to pick up speed only to slow down just in time to get a offsides.
*If Blair Betts hadn't already made his case for a new contract, his work killing the stupid penalties tonight certainly did. It would be a shame to see him go this offseason, and not only because he is my favourite Ranger.
*It is hard to imagine that the Tuomu Ruutu who looked so good for Carolina in this game was the same one that was the bane of the Blackhawks' existence for so long.
*I used to know someone who directed some games for Versus. I truly hope that that person no longer does it because I can't imagine them being that bad at their job. The direction of the niche network broadcast was terrible yet again. They constantly went to tight shots of nothing while missing some action. It is positively difficult to watch games on Versus and yet they are going to get two games of the Stanley Cup Final. That's a travesty.
*I missed the first five minutes of the game and caught the rest of the first period on the radio before getting home to catch the final two periods on Versus. Listening to Kenny Albert and Dave Maloney was a true pleasure and a more enjoyable experience then listening to Sam and Joe. They had chemistry and charisma and Maloney actually knows what he is talking about. As for the Versucks crew, if that play-by-play guy says "Valiquette says no!!" one more time I am going to scream.
*Anyone else think it somehow appropriate that Versus constantly promoted auto racing during a game in Raleigh?
*Nothing like playing your big brother to give you a chip on your shoulder out on the ice, huh? Marc Staal was great and you have to wonder if he has the ability to play Jay Bouwmeester-esque minutes.
*Game 3 of the second Avery era and it was much like the last two - a lot of hitting, a lot of falling flat on the ice. The man is entertaining. Rangers-Devils in exactly three weeks by the way.
*It is a shame that the Garden management is so given to sexual harassment. Some of those Canes girls were gorgeous and seemed, uh, quite capable of keeping the fans in the game ...
*Credit to the woman sitting behind the Ranger bench for rocking the Hartford Ron Francis jersey. What a beautiful sweater. Bring back the Whale!
*Since Mara and Morris clearly have no chemistry anymore, perhaps breaking them up and putting them with Rozy and Redden would be a good idea. Well, only if Torts doesn't scratch the 'stars' first and still manages to get the budding first pairing of Staal and Girardi 22, 24 minutes.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Joe Corvo - one goal.
2-Cam Ward - 28 saves.
1-Ray Whitney - two assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Anton Babchuk - It was a tough call between Babchuk and Dennis Seidenberg but it just seemed like Babchuk was all over the ice and in the right spot every time the Rangers came calling.
2-Erik Cole - There is no wonder that the Canes started leaving a path of destruction once Cole came back on board. He is clearly the heart and soul of the team and pays the price for every inch of ice.
1-Valley - The backup netminder looked anything but as he made 33 saves with little support. Neither goal against was his fault and, like Hank on most nights, he gave the Blueshirts the chance to win the game. It isn't his fault they can't score.