Tuesday, October 27, 2009

8-3-1: First Line Fixes Streak

It is amazing that the Rangers break a painful losing streak with a five goal effort and yet it still feels like a loss. Seeing as the NHL is as secretive as the CIA in their injury status, we simply don't know how Marian Gaborik is. Did we win the game, and lose the season? Who knows? This is the first but likely not the last night were we will be left wondering, and that is quite unfortunate - especially as his line contributed four goals and five assists in the 5-2 win over Phoenix.

Very few folks in the Garden knew that he got hurt in the first place - leading to a smattering of boos when he didn't come out after being named first star of the night. I had a few good friends text me as soon as it was mentioned on the broadcast so we brainstormed and couldn't see anything big that happened to Gabby. There was a play along the boards in the Coyotes zone in the second period where he was checked but he played well after that. Watching Ranger Rewind, I noticed he fell over Hank awkwardly five minutes into the third and could have tweaked a knee ...

But, since we won't know his status until at least Tuesday if not Wednesday at puck drop, let's not panic just yet and look at this evening's victory:

*So we won't talk about his injury but let's rave about his skill: Gabby is good. Like, real good. Like, how were the Coyotes so stupid as to let him skate into the slot alone to score on a perfect one-timer from Brandon Dubinsky? That he was free for his second goal was no surprise as it was on the power play but still, you would think they would endeavour to cover a guy with a release as good as his.

*Dubi, by the way, certainly responded to his Montreal benching with really good work at both ends of the ice. Chris Higgins wasn't as impressive but he wasn't bad. He got himself a great scoring chance early on but missed the net and blew a shorthanded chance in the second. One of these days, one of these days. It would make for a nice story line for it to come on the Island on Wednesday ...

*What the hell was that boarding call on Vinny Prospal in the first period? Is checking now illegal? And the Avery rules were in effect, with him getting a phantom slashing call and no call when he was unceremoniously dumped to the ice by a Phoenix defenseman.

*Speaking of incredulous questions, how do you give Donald Brashear an assist on the Arty Anisimov goal? There is a Phoenix shot blocked, the puck comes out to Brian Boyle and Boyle and Ansimov pass the puck back and forth all the way up the ice. So what exactly was Brash's contribution? Not taking a penalty on the play?

*It was shocking to see Ilya Bryzgalov play so bad. Can't give him a hard time on the first Gabby goal but the other three were stoppable. Hey, all the better for us, right?

*I made a comment after his second goal, saying how nice it was to have a win. Hey, up four goals, the win is in the bag, right??? (Unless it is against Montreal, in Montreal.) Of course, the Rangers then sat back and let Dave Tippett's team put two in to make a game of it. Ah, the Scotty Hockey hex. And you guys wonder why I prefer to be pessimistic ...

*It was Hockey Fights Cancer Night and I bought a book and a hat. I hope other folks who went bought stuff too. Great cause. I turned on MSG to hear Joe Micheletti say, in talking about the kids from Sloan Kettering, that "I wish I had some of what they have." Really. I kid you not. Now, he was talking about their courage and not their cancer, but it came out wrong. This guy is a clown, surely there is someone capable of providing good colour commentary out there. I'd offer, but I think it would come out at bit like this.

*There was a nice video tribute to Bill Chadwick during a tv timeout but sadly few people in the Garden really knew who he was. Nonetheless, the crowd did itself proud and put together a decent ovation in the Big Whistle's memory.

*Petr Prucha didn't get an ovation. There was a smattering of Pru's when he took the puck on his first shift but he - and Lauri Korpikoski - were complete nonfactors.

*It's been mentioned here before but Ales Kotalik's shot is just awe-inspiring. That damn thing is a cannon and when it is off the mark, it just booms off of the endboards.

*Those virtual ads on the boards on the MSG telecast really don't interfere with the play and less and less fans are speaking out about them. That is great but how long until they attempt virtual ads down on the ice as well?

*After Matt Gilroy's gaffe gave the Canadiens a win on Saturday, he settled down and looked solid against the Coyotes. Granted, the Desert Dogs don't have anywhere near the offensive skill that the Habs do but this was a good one for the confidence. MDZ was also good and is certainly making the most of his power play time (which is nice considering it feeds the goal machine that is Prospal/Gaborik).

*People keep nominating Staalsie for the other "A" but, after listening to Prospal talk after the second period, I think Vinny deserves some consideration. He was serious, he was smart, he understands the head coach well and he is integral to the team's future success.

*Talking about the captaincy, what is up with Chris Drury? He seemed better in the faceoff circle but took a bad hit of some kind. It looked like he got hit high by a puck but he went off the ice with an arm hanging so who knows? He didn't miss a shift so hopefully he is really ok as the Rangers face the Islanders next and that is the only team he seems able to score against.

*I'm pretty sure I saw Jari Kurri down in the purple seats. I still think he was vastly overrated - even in his prime - and the deal to get the past-his-prime version with with Marty McSorley and Shane Churla for Ray Ferraro, Ian Laperriere, Mattias Norstrom, Nathan Lafayette and a pick was one of the franchise's worse.

*Loved the whistle war late in the third period as the idiots kept trying to do the Potvin Sucks whistle and other guys just piped up to interrupt. Once a game, cool. Five times - in a row - in the third period against Phoenix? Not cool.

*Why does Hank insist on coming out of the crease? His fumble with the puck led to the shorthanded goal against. Nothing ever good comes out of Hank's wanderings. Otherwise he was Hank - one of the best in the business.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Enver Lisin - one goal and one assist.
2-Vinny Prospal - one goal and two assists.
1-Marian Gaborik - two goals and one assist.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Michael Del Zotto - MDZ collected two assists for his offensive acumen and is showing such great poise. Perhaps down the line, once they get more experience, he and Hobey will to be a great pairing.
2-Prospal - If he can play this kind hockey now, just wait until the team heads to Tampa when he can slap them directly in the face for buying him out.
1-Gaborik - Get well soon Gabby. Please? Pretty please?


daniel said...

gaborik announced that it has nothiing to do with his groin or hip, he will probably be day to day

Dennis said...

It looked to me like Gabs skate or shin hit another skate or shin and when on the bench he was rubbing down low around his ankle. Let's hope that's all.

I love the way DZ is playing but has anyone else noticed he seems a bit hesitant at firing the cannon from the blue line on the PP? The few times I've seen him do it looked like he has a pretty nice slapper, but the last few games it looks to me like he's got a lane but opts to pass anyway. Don't think he had any slappers last night. Just hope he doesn't develop Rozsival'itis.

Anonymous said...

Brashear is the one who blocked the shot, which went to boyle and Anisimov in succession. I wouldn't call it an assist exactly, but the play would not have been made if not for his efforts so I can see the merit of giving him the assist on the scoresheet.


Pete said...

Did anyone else think the Rangers were playing a more...cautious game? I mean, for the most part we didn't seem as agressive a forecheck as we did in the first seven. We also didn't see as much of the steals in the neutral and offensive zones. I don't know, it just seemed different to me. Toned down a bit. Which is fine, because we still beat the defacto "best goalie in the league" five times.

Hopefully the Isles don't hand us an embarrasing defeat on Wednesday.

Kingrich45 said...

Do you think its possible/practical knowing Gaborik is injury prone to not put him out there towards the ends of games when we don't need any goals because were already up three+? We could just put the fourth line out there and let them grind it out. Although it may hurt gabby pride/confidence; if he gets hurt the last 5 minutes of a blowout that would be a tough way to see the season go.

Pete said...

I'm not sure if it can be that cut and dry. I mean, Gabby has scored most of his goals in the 3rd period to boot.

As an aside, I think Valley may have put a hit out on Hank...maybe something like 1 Million to the first Ranger to crash into Henrik and put him out for the season. Even Gabby got in on the action yesterday.

Jim said...

I think I agree with the line of thinking of Kingrich. I told myself I would watch the post-game conference to hear what Torts said and then fell asleep, but I think he said something about the game being well in hand so there was no reason to push it with Gabby. Sure, most of his goals have been scored in the 3rd period, Pete, but he scored in the 1st and in the 2nd, so there wasn't a need for him to be out there late in the game.

Scotty Hockey said...

I certainly agree the desire/need to hold him back - why burn out your star when you don't need to? But for everyone to be kept in the dark is not a good thing. And now that PA has been called up, it's certain that there was an injury sustained.

You can say that 'oh, it's only the Islanders and they suck' for the thought of keeping Gabby out, but this coach put in Hank to play against the Leafs to ensure that the team did indeed get the gimme points so why would he overlook a rival who is sure to put up one helluva fight?

Tony V said...

Nice summary and I cannot add anything else. I am in awe (as I stated elsewhere) how good Prospal and Gaborik are.

11 goals so far from defensemen. 4 goals scored a game on average -- this ain't Renney's 2-1 team anymore.

More tweaking needs to be done, but I think time will be an asset as all the youngsters and new guys continue to get acclimated to the team and the coaches. It's only 12 games in -- we would have signed on for this type of team in a heartbeat at the end of last season.

The Cycle said...

Remember this Scotty, Friday's game will be in Minnesota and I'm sure for him, Friday's game could be a little more important than this Wednesday's Islanders game for obvious reasons. Thus, I could see Gabby miss the game tomorrow and play Friday unless of course this injury is particularly serious.