Monday, April 13, 2009
43-30-9: I Love Happy Endings
All's well that ends well, right?
The Rangers completed their regular season schedule with an impressive 4-3 victory over the rival Philadelphia Flyers. If the Blueshirts played like this the entire season, then it would have been quite a different campaign but what's done is done, a new season starts this week. At least they will head into it on a good note, having stuck it to Philly, forcing them to take on Cindy Crosby without home ice advantage. Good luck with that.
Now I will, of course, be doing a preview of some sorts for the Ranger series against the Caps but I can't move on without doing the final game report:
*Oh my, did I see what I think I saw? A power play goal and a shorthanded goal??? Of course they came in a meaningless game but could it be the start of something good? I don't think so but you never know! Kudos to Brandon Dubinsky for going to the paint because it makes things happen. And the shortie was tremendous - if only because it stopped the Flyers from being the only team ever to go a season without allowing one. Nice timing Dubi!
*And for timing, you can't go wrong with breaking a 33 game goalless streak with a game-winner. Blair Betts scored by chipping home his own rebound. Let me say that again. Blair Betts scored. A goal. A game-winning goal. How great was that? Yes, I am an unashamed fanboy. Go Bettsy!
*During the first intermission Scott Gomez was able to make it through a full interview with John Giannone without a single glib comment. I may have to start giving him some credit. He did make a great play to get into the Philly zone before sending a crisp pass to Sean for the one-timer to tie the game at three. Gomez needs to skate like that all the time - no senseless circling, just slicing and dicing the defense. He will need to better than three-for-16 in the faceoff circle but he made amends in my eyes for coming to Avery's defense after the final buzzer (more on that in a bit).
*Anyone else find it comical watching Rozy and Redden bumping into each other on defense throughout the game? And combined they make $15 million this season (with an 11.5 cap hit). Ha! But, alas, I will give Redden a smidge of credit for his good clear in the last minute and assist on Bettsy's goal.
*With Ovechkin and the Caps coming in, the Rangers showed what they needed to work on with the Flyers second goal - playing the body. Too many Blueshirts stood around and watched as Philly invaded the zone and then Carter slipped into the high slot to fire off his wicked wrister. Philly opened the scoring after Aaron Voros made a bad play missing the net then picking Betts in the offensive zone. The Flyers came back the other way, Voros decided to sit in the slot and watch the play next to Redden as Colton Orr watched from the wing and no one covered Claude Giroux. Laissez-faire defense simply doesn't work, even with Hank in net.
*Oh, Joe Micheletti - a paid analyst who covers every game for the team had no idea that Brandon Dubinsky had never gotten a hat trick. What a clown. Somehow I don't think he could take a terrible team and turn them into a playoff squad; congrats JD, we still miss you.
*And in the first period Joe spouted some BS about general managers being limited in the number of call ups and, as near as I can tell, that is completely wrong - just look at all of recalls Tampa has used this year. Philly signed the kid out of college because of cap concerns - he doesn't get paid a dime other than per diem on a try out contract. And Joe is a professional analyst.
*That being said, newly professional Jamie Fritsch gets credit for stepping in and playing well for the Flyers, just as that Sloane kid did the other night. They make for nice stories and ones that we may have to hear a few years down the line as the cap comes down and the Rangers get screwed thanks to Redden, Drury and Gomez.
*They were screwed at the end of the game when Lupul intentionally tried to injure Avery. You gotta accept that he won't get the benefit of most calls but the refs' job is still to protect the players and they failed. Had Avery been anyone else, then Lupul would have gotten more than a two minute minor for trying to paralyze Avery with an intentional hit from behind into the boards. An inch or two another way, and Avery's career is done. Gary Bettman probably would have thrown a party had that happened but I would love to see how he would explain how he allowed a man to be injured for life to his 12 year old daughter.
*As it has been mentioned time and time again, Lauri Korpikoski will make mistakes - he is a rookie. On a 3-on-1 you have to put the puck on the net, that simple. No fancy-shmancy backhand attempt into the top corner, just get it on net and force a rebound. Luckily it didn't matter in the end but he has gotta learn.
*Conspiracy theory of the night: Chris Drury got the game off while Nik Antropov didn't - even though both were banged up. However, Antropov's alma mater didn't just win the National Championship Saturday night ...
*Not like Borat showed any signs of injury as he was a big part of the offense all game long. If he can remain healthy throughout the playoffs, he could be huge. Since the deadline, Borat has clearly proved to be much more valuable than Zherdev - which is a shame because Z has more talent. The saddest thing in life is wasted talent ...
*I love that the Flyers use Pennywise's Bro Hymn as their goal song. Of course, the circumstances that we hear it are negative, but it is a great song and a helluva choice for a celebratory song in Philadelphia.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Blair Betts - one goal.
2-Danny Briere - one goal and one assist.
1-Brandon Dubinsky - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Jeff Carter - While Arron Asham and Andrew Alberts both had strong games, neither had the impact that Carter had. Carter seemed to dominate most of his shifts and forced the Rangers to keep tight coverage.
2-Sean - Avery scored the late equalizer and kept the Flyers occupied throughout, so much so that Hartnell never was a threat to score.
1-Dubi - The Dubi who played in the final game was much like the one who played in the first one: strong, smart, confident and willing to pay the price to score. If he finds consistency, watch out world because I still believe he could be the second coming of Jason Arnott.