Saturday, March 28, 2009
39-28-9: House Of Horrors (now with pictures!)
Well, the Rangers and Pens tied the season series at three each with each team winning all of their home games. Much like the other three games in Pittsburgh, the Blueshirts had no chance at winning this one, being outworked by a more talented team from the start. The usual tough officiating in Pittsburgh didn't help, but wasn't as painful as the two incredibly soft goals Henrik Lundqvist allowed. And the team never made a statement, never finished a big play or made a big hit or anything on their way to skating off the Igloo ice as the losers (again). That's 13 regulation losses in their last 15 games in Pittsburgh (including playoffs).
The Rangers could theoretically go on an eight game losing streak to end the season. Sure, this is only the second in a row and the sky isn't falling yet, but five of the remaining six games are against teams playing better than they are - with the lone possible exception being Montreal.
The new parts that were added around the deadline were nice enough to get some people back on the bandwagon but the chassis is still cracked and the axles are bent. It is up to John Tortorella to keep the wheels from falling off the rest of the way before the playoffs and Monday's match against Mmmmaaaarrrtttyyy at MSG will be quite telling.
*If there was any clearer evidence that the Rangers should re-up Nik Antropov over Nik Zherdev than the third Blueshirt goal I don't know what it is. Sure both players disappear regularly, sure both are skilled, sure both are soft but Borat is bigger and that size is quite helpful up front, as shown by the way he used his length to reach out and spin around Mark Eaton to tuck the puck in.
*Why is it that Joe Micheletti feels the need to be Wade Redden's personal publicist? Micheletti raved on and on about how wonderful Redden was when the Penguin ran into him in the neutral zone and the Rangers were able to go the other way and score. Not mentioned was the pathetic netminding by Fleury to allow the telegraphed wrap-around attempt slide past him. But Redden, wow. Just give that man the Norris NOW!!!!!
*Of course, Micheletti lost track of which defenseman was which on Fedotenko's goal. He said it was Morris who pinched and played himself out of position while it was - who else? - Redden. That left Morris back on a three-on-one and that just didn't work out.
*It wouldn't have even gotten to that had Gomez not tried to use telepathy to get the loose puck in. He let himself be twisted out of the play and his stick taken up so he just watched as it was knocked away. Damn superpowers, always failing at the wrong times.
*Hank gave up his trademark soft goal to open the game, letting the classless, clueless clown Max Talbot slide the puck through his legs. For a goaltender who was so good in shootouts, it is at least the fourth breakaway goal this season that I recall Hank letting in. Then Crosby's later on wasn't much different - blow past the D and wrist it right through the goaltender. For shame Hank, for shame.
*The only shame in the second goal of the game - the Cooke-y Monster's - was that the Rangers let themselves be outworked around their own net. But let's face it, that has been the story all season long.
*How could Colton Orr get beaten up by Eric Godard? He landed maybe two decent punches, and both were to Godard's helmet. Orr has steadily gotten worse since Torts has come to town and that is a shame considering how far he had come.
*As for his game misconduct, what can you say? It was a fair hit on a fair play but Eaton was falling so it became a hit to the head. The refs saw blood so they panicked and felt the need to call something big. Just think of it this way, had that been Crosby instead of Eaton then Orr would have been suspended for life.
*The Freddie Sjostrom on the third line experiment isn't working. He has no chemistry with those guys. It may be time to move him back down to the fourth line or maybe even try him alongside Gomez. Chemistry is the name of the game and the lines as they are now aren't meshing all that well.
*Slightly OT: Last game wrap I mocked the decision to start Valley, saying how Vancouver wouldn't bench Roberto Luongo. Well, they did last night. And they beat the worst team in the West (Colorado) 4-1. Dammit.
*Also slightly OT: My buddy Chuck gave the heads up for anyone interested that Borat Antropov will be doing an autograph signing at the NHL Store in New York on Tuesday at 2pm.
*Nice goal by Cally to get the Rangers on the board. After Avery fumbled the puck, Cally snapped it far post and in past Fleury. The kid has been great for the Rangers and unless they re-sign him quickly (he is a RFA), he is almost assured of getting a offer sheet this offseason. That will be a sad day.
*Sean Avery vs. Tyler Kennedy ... huh? Why? Sean has to be smarter than that. There is no reason to fight a little pest like Kennedy, who wears a visor might I add. Avery needed to goad Crosby, Kunitz or Guerin into something - not a spare part like Kennedy.
*Poor Mike Sauer. Two minutes of ice time, -2. And, frankly, neither of them were his fault; the first one was Paul Mara's screw up as Talbot blew past him and the forwards didn't backcheck well on the second, letting Cooke knock in his own rebound. EDIT: And now Sauer has been sent down as Torts found himself a scapegoat. Nevermind that the kid has played well, but he can't send Redden down now, can he?
*PHW Three Stars
3-Ryan Callahan - one goal.
2-Sidney Crosby - one goal.
1-Ruslan Fedotenko - one goal and two assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Crosby - The Cole Harbour Crybaby bitched, moaned and complained to the refs every chance he got but he did get up from every hit and kept on going to the tough parts of the ice. His goal was more because of the incompetence of the Rangers than everything else but even I have to admit he is fast.
2-Dan Girardi - I wanted to give this to Blair Betts for his work on the kill (which went 10-0!) but Danny G was a force throughout. He skated for more than 31 minutes, 7:44 on them shorthanded. The most telling part of his performance (and that of Staal's) was that Guerin, Kunitz, Malkin, Staal and Sykora were held pointless.
1-Fedotenko - I mention it in most Peepin' Foes (sorry about the lack of one today) but Tank steps up his game every time he plays the Rangers. He did it in Tampa, he did it on the Island and he does it for the Pens. Bastard.