Tuesday, April 21, 2009
R1 G3: Renney's Rangers Return
As a woman in Penn Station said to me, it was just like this Rangers/Caps game was in mid-February. She went so far as to say that her section in the blue seats chanted "Fire Renney" at one point. And they were right, it was a return of no heart, no hurry Tom Renney hockey, and at the worsT possible time. The Rangers had a chance to make a statement and essentially put this series in the bag and instead have their own diehard fans talking about a six game series loss. It was embarrassing, it was sloppy and it was a slap in the fans who paid good money to watch the game.
The Blueshirts never got into any kind of rhythm, never challenged a rookie goaltender and hung their netminder out to dry. It was a lackluster mid-winter doldrum effort, not a pivotal playoff game before a hungry home crowd. The only redeeming factor is that you have to imagine the current coach not standing for the garbage, where the former bench boss seemed willing to roll over and die.
*It is a sad state of affairs when you can seriously say that the goaltender that gave up four goals played significantly better than the one who posted a shutout but that was the case. The Rangers failed their King.
*That idiot goon Brashear dressed to make a physical statement and he did his job. With the score 1-0, he crashed the net, took a few facewashes and skated off unscathed. He and Colton Orr got matching roughings but there never was any retribution. Brash skated out of the penalty box and went to the bench, Orr finished off a shift and neither was heard from again. The Rangers could have announced that they wouldn't stand for being abused on their home ice, could have announced that touching Hank was strictly a no-no but instead they rolled over and Washington scored a few minutes later to ice the game.
*If the fans weren't insulted enough by the lack of effort by the Blueshirts, the Rangers had to add insult to injury by allowing Tom Poti to score. Terrible, just terrible.
*I previously ripped on the bandwagon Washington fans but the part-time Ranger fans returned the Garden and were annoying as all hell. These people actually were surprised and upset when the power play didn't score time after time! Can you believe that? They believed that the special team was actually special and yelled and booed when it failed miserably. Helloooooo welcome to New York Ranger hockey. Just be happy they were able to kill those two minute minors off.
*On the subject of penalties, Sean Avery. The referees won't give him the benefit of the doubt and they won't protect him. Seconds after he was cross checked away from the play into the Caps net, he took a very, very dubious high sticking call. That is almost as bad as the two minutes for roughing he took when he was cross checked from behind and hit in the nuts with the goaltender's stick in the final minutes of the game. If the ref called either of the early calls, or the linesman actually did his job and broke them up, then Avery wouldn't have been able to throw a light jab at Varlamov.
*But many of the penalties on both teams were weak so what can you do? Gary Bettman doesn't want hard-nosed playoff hockey, he wants the same boring antiseptic garbage that he force feeds us in the regular season. Ryan Callahan's high stick? Please.
*I just turned on Ranger Rewind and see that New York Life bought in to that creepy virtual advertising on the glass. I went to say something bad about New York Life but can't, they employ Snoopy. Subway, on the other hand, had ads pop up on the ice at least once (I saw them with 13 minutes left in the third). That's not cool.
*In an attempt to find something positive to speak about, Michal Rozsival deserves accolades for taking a high stick to the face (for which there was no penalty) and returning the ice - I think he missed one shift? Not too shabby.
*Ovechkin didn't score but he did make a brilliant play to knock the puck away from Korpikoski on a shorthanded breakaway. How there is any doubt that he is the best player in the world is shocking to me and it is a disgrace that Bettman made that pathetic crybaby Crosby to be the face of the league when he couldn't hold Captain Caveman's jock.
*Nik Zherdev spent his first few shifts in the game finding new ways to fall on the ice and lose the puck and then disappeared. He has pretty much ensured that he will make a nice salary next season back in Russia because he has proven he doesn't have the heart for real hockey.
*Markus Naslund worked hard to replicate his better efforts in the first two games but he certainly tried too hard. Nothing worked right and he spent a lot of time in the penalty box and a lot of time on the bench as a result.
*Aside from showing off his ridiculous mohawk while skating helmetless in the warmups, did Mike Green actually participate in this game? And this guy is a Norris candidate?
*Those Thundersticks may have been the worse giveaway in Garden history. And the silly blue lights in them? Did anyone get chills or anything for the 10 seconds the Garden kept the lights down prior to the game? LAME. And the announcement at the end of the game saying how fans should not throw anything on the ice after the so-called souvenirs began raining down was almost as bad. If the Rangers had given something good like a shirt, a hat or even the usual towels, the odds are damned good that people wouldn't throw them on the ice, no matter how disgusted they were. (Hats thrown on the ice at the Garden? That almost never happens.)
*PHW Three Stars
3-Nick Backstrom - three assists.
2-Alex Semin - two goals and one assist.
1-Simeon Varlamov - 33 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-John Erskine - The top Washington defenseman, Erskine was always there to help the Rangers abort their attack and he drew several penalties as well. Simple, smart hockey.
2-Backstrom - He has some incredible hands and he showed them off, taking advantage of the massive holes in the Ranger defense.
1-Bruce Boudreau - Boudreau had his time ready and prepared to fight for their lives. Some pundits said that Torts had been 'outcoaching' Boudreau - which was laughable - but there was no doubt in this game that even the fiery Tortorella couldn't ignite the Rangers while Boudreau's bunch came to play.