Friday, October 9, 2009
3-1-0: Pass The Pepto
It has been mentioned in this space several times already this season - the Rangers are a high risk/high reward team that are going to have back and forth games. I know that, I acknowledged that. But still, actually experiencing it is something else. The Blueshirts have edge-of-the-seat, ulcer inducing play that can actually culminate in victories, and tonight was one of them. The Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals in a wild (I am going to have to hit the thesaurus hard this season for that word) 4-3 win at the Phone Booth in Washington.
*Marian Gaborik is good. Perhaps not Alexander Ovechkin good, but certainly in the same stratosphere. First the game-tying goal on the nice give-and-go and then the conversion of a great feed up the ice from MDZ for the winner. Hopefully we will see that combination a lot over the next five years.
*I can admit, I was wrong about MDZ. The kid is showing some great confidence out there and, as long as management keeps using him smartly, he is definitely worth keeping around. Sure there are mistakes, but Hobey Gilroy is making them too - part of the learning experience and it is well worth it.
*Now on the other side of the coin, we finally saw some indication of coach Tortorella's accountability (against someone other than Sean Avery). After Rozy's horrific performance - including the turnover that led to the first goal of the game and a bad penalty - Rozy spent a lotta time on the bench.
*It will be interesting to see what he does for next game. Will he keep Rozy in the lineup? Better question, will he keep Aaron Voros in? With Grachev up, it makes sense to sit Voros. After figure skating his way around the Caps zone, he took a bad penalty in the third period. The Caps converted on Backstrom's second goal of the game and Torts yelled at Voros when he got back to the bench. The best part was that MSG caught it on camera, "sit the f--k down!!!!!!!!!"
*They didn't catch any response to Brasher's idiotic penalty though. Brash opened the door for the Caps to tie the game with five minutes left by taking a lazy trip at the end of a long shift. I don't want to say I told you so, but I told you so.
*The Blueshirts got lucky that the Caps power play was, frankly, horrific. Prior to the game I had heard that the Backstrom/Ovechkin/Semin line was called the Care Bears because they are too cute for their own damned good and this game proved it. Sure they accounted for all three of the Caps goals, but they missed a dozen more chances and their power play went 1-9.
*Some credit must be given to the Rangers killers, who did some solid work. They killed off two five-on-threes and Ryan Callahan essentially scored a shorthanded goal, even though it won't go down as such as it happened two seconds after Rozy's holding penalty expired. It was a great breakaway goal by the alternate captain, and it made up for the empty net he missed in the first period.
*All of the great saves that Hank made in the game and in his career surely outweigh the Backstrom goal from the red line but damn, was that embarrassing. Maybe it is a Swedish thing? But, that goal aside, the King was solid and he stopped nine shots from Ovie. Nine.
*Where Torts used his timeout against the Devils to wake the Rangers up, he used it in this one to give them a rest. After a long shift and an icing Torts used his break to get a breather for the boys and they were able to hold on to a 2-1 lead through the end of the period.
*Poor Chris Higgins. Higs had at least two great chances to score and was foiled each time. Sooner or later the parts are going to click into place and he is going to start converting on these opportunities.
*For the Caps I was impressed (as always) with Brooks Laich. I thought Quintin Laing was quite good as well. Mike Knuble was quite underwhelming. Mike Green was just as bad as he was in the playoffs against us. And Tom Poti was just as bad as he always is. Boooooooo Poti.
*Yay Wade Redden. No, not really. Relax. But Redden didn't suck. So that's a plus. He had a quiet game, as did Matt Gilroy but that wasn't a bad thing.
*Ales Kotalik had a team-high three giveaways but he did have a goal. And it was pretty. Fierce forechecking by Enver Lisin got the puck and then he fed it to Arty for a shot. It deflected to Kotalik and Jose ThreeOrMore couldn't stop it.
*It really is amazing how Jose could go from looking like the unstoppable force who was so proficient that he was able to land Paris Hilton off the ice to acting like the heiress, letting everyone go between his legs. How embarrassing.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Marc Staal - no points.
2-Nicklas Backstrom - two goals.
1-Marian Gaborik - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Ovechkin - Poor Backstrom is so underrated that I don't even pick him when he scores two goals. But Nik wasn't the constant threat - both offensively and physically - that Ovie was. He really is the best hockey player on the planet.
2-Dan Girardi - Quiet and capable, Girardi played his best game so far.
1-Staal/Callahan/Brandon Dubinsky - The benefit of being able to make my own rules - I can pick all three. All three performed above and beyond in battling the Caps. All three killed penalties. All three pressed the action. And all three deserve letters on their jerseys as the core of this franchise.