Thursday, March 12, 2009
35-25-8: Hoo Wee, A Win In Tennessee!
Could this game be the St. Louis of this season? The Rangers blew a lead to the Blues when Sean Avery first came to town and Avery helped power the team to a comeback victory. Well, Sean seems to have found his form and was a profound pain in the ass to the Predators and it helped propel his team to a 4-2 victory.
Each team gave up a fluke goal that their goaltenders should have stopped, each team got a bad goal in off of a defenseman's skate but just one team had Avery. Sean set the tempo early and the Rangers followed. When they sat back at the end of the period John Tortorella apparently reignited the fire and the Blueshirts outplayed the Preds the rest of the way. Because Torts benched Nik Zherdev for halfassed play, that left Avery to play alongside Scott Gomez and Ryan Callahan and they overwhelmed Nashville. He finally gave Callahan someone to skate with and turned Gomez back into a real hockey player - put that together and you have two points in the standings.
This was tremendous for the Rangers as they head into the tough home-and-home with Philly. They will have one helluva fight ahead of them so for the team to show some moxy in coming from behind to win this one was huge. It was fun to watch and hopefully is a sign of things to come. After so many months of dreary hockey and dread, this is just awesome. Let's go Rangers.
*Continuing my love affair with the fourth line - they saw limited action but created chances when they were out there together. And on the penalty kill, there aren't many better than Betts and Sjostrom. Torts had them split up through much of the first kill in the third period but were able to reunite them and Sjo scored a one timer on a great play by Bettsy. Win the faceoff, take advantage of the pointman's mistake, use your speed to get free and make a perfect pass to your partner. Money. Too many times this season we saw the other team do that so it was great to see the Blueshirts net a pretty shortie.
*Yes, Hank won his 30th game to become the first goaltender to get 30 in his first four seasons but seriously, it doesn't matter. They used to have these things called "ties" back in the day that takes the luster off of this achievement.
*For months I called for Dan Girardi to be paired with Marc Staal. They were together for most of one shift early in the season and looked great but no matter how much Tom Renney juggled his lines, he never juggled the D. Tortorella came in, put the two RANGER PRODUCTS together and finally had a worthy first pairing on the blueline.
*It is quite easy to mock hockey in Tennessee but it looked like the Preds had a really good crowd there - a lot more than the Isles and Devils get at home.
*With all of that second period talk of Nik Zherdev being in "Chateau Bow Wow" was there anyone else who got extremely mad at Joe? Ok, we can accept that he isn't J.D. but several years later he still has no chemistry with Sam and still has no clue. Coming out of the next break he was 'analyzing' two Hank saves and said that the "puck went back to whoever followed up the play and Lundqvist made the save." Whoever. ARG!!!!!!
*Kinda OT: Fox Soccer Channel has a fun show where they get fans of opposing teams to call the EPL games together. I think that would be really fun - call a game the way I saw it, with someone sitting alongside as an easy target for rooting for the wrong team ...
*Totally OT: The Two Brothers Scrap Metal makes me laugh, every time. Apparently teenage girls have a lot of scrap metal lying around their homes and they talk about it with their hot little friends.
*Markus Naslund got pinned with two first period penalties. While he could be excused for the interference call - Scott Nichol came under him and got caught - the other was a too many men on the ice where Nazzy just jumped over the boards. Senior moments like that just can't be allowed and you have to hope that the Rangers make up for the mistake of signing him and buy him out this summer.
*Nice to see Wade Redden playing his game. He lofted a shot at the Nashville net that was easily blocked and then was grossly out of position as the Preds went the other way on a breakaway - with Redden trying to waterski back. What a useless clown. We need to come up with a good nickname for him. Just throwing this out there - Wade "Out and Drown" Redden.
*Derek Morris finally contributed to the Blueshirts, drawing a penalty late in the second period. For a big money defenseman who was acquired for three players, it is about time Morris did something positive. Then again, Morris was a huge help to Hank and the rest of the team tonight by allowing Tortorella to give less ice time to his new partner, Redden. Point of observation, Petr Prucha had a power play point, giving him four points in four games with Phoenix.
*Better beard: Paul Mara or Greg Zanon? Mara looks more like a lumberjack but Zanon's looked immaculately kept.
*KGB Watch: Nik Antropov contributed virtually nothing. While he went to the net once or twice, he sat back and watched the play more often then not. Nik Zherdev also sat back and watched - because he was benched. The mercurial forward got an assist on the opening goal and then made a half-assed play that led to a Nashville goal and spent the rest of the night on the bench. That is what we call accountability. Now if only Tortorella would use that on Redden and/or Rozy ...
*I'm serious, before every game someone needs to sneak into Chris Drury's room while he is napping and repeat "you are playing the Islanders tonight, you are playing the Islanders tonight. The Islanders." How he can be so big in those games and so small in others is beyond me. However, he did win nine of 10 faceoffs so at least he contributed something tonight.
*Stat of the night: Rozy was awarded with four hits while Avery and Callahan were credited with just one. I think that pretty much proves that no one in Nashville knows anything about hockey.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 19 saves.
2-Ryan Callahan - two assists.
1-Scott Gomez - one goal and two assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Gomez - New coach, new pain-in-the-ass linemate and Gomez has gotten his lackadaisical ass in gear. Whether he was shamed into playing hard or not, Gomez matched the intensity of his linemates and is finally playing as well has he did when he helped the evil Devils win a Cup.
2-Avery - What can you say? Sean is back. Sure, he still took a few spills on the ice but his hands are matching his mouth and he is playing smart, pestering hockey. He is clearly the sparkplug that gets the Ranger engine running.
1-Cally - I used to call Cally the 'new Little Ball of Hate' after he looked like he would step into the Pat Verbeek role. He is not Beeker - he isn't nearly as surly. However, he is just as energetic and makes just as big an impact with his relentless physical play. Cally has played this hard all season long and now that he has linemates working as hard as he does, it is paying off.