Saturday, October 31, 2009
8-5-1: Another Day, Another Loss
If I was John Tortorella, I don't put my team on the ice on Saturday. For the final day of Hockey Fights Cancer month, I take them to Schneider's or Sloan Kettering or any number of the great hospitals in the New York area. Bring the boys to trick or treat with some of the real sick kids. The children would love it, and the team could see what it really means to fight. The patients battle every day for every day, and perhaps the Rangers would realize that the least they could do is play their game as hard as they can.
The Blueshirts turned in another half-hearted performance against a bad team on Friday night, losing to the Minnesota Wild 3-2.
There are no excuses to be had. The injury bug strikes every team and it took Marian Gaborik, Sean Avery and Chris Higgins (allegedly). The remaining roster still could have won, easily. Instead they cruised around the nice Xcel Center ice, making the home team look good while leaving their goalie out to dry time after time.
*How or why do you match the Andrew Brunette, Mikko Koivu, Petr Sykora trio with the fourth line? They don't have the speed, they don't have the skill and, frankly, they don't have a clue. The mismatch allowed Sykora do do what he does best - get the Rangers back for unceremoniously dropping him after a good season just after the lockout. In addition to a second assist on the Belanger goal, Sykora finished the tic-tac-toe passing play that opened the night's scoring. He did it against us on Pittsburgh, he did it against us again.
*That play was started by Donald Brashear. For all of those folks out there who called me out on the carpet for badmouthing Brash, are you starting to realize why yet? Not only is he inept with a hockey stick, he is a big, dumb coward who doesn't help his team in most any way. The Rangers lacked energy, the Wild dressed not one but two over-sized tough guys and yet Brash didn't dance with either. Derek Boogaard is one of the top five, if not top three fighters in the league and caused havoc around the Ranger crease every chance he got. Brashear? Nowhere to be found. Now for all of you apologists out there who want to throw the mystery injury out there, if he was too "sore" to fight, he shouldn't have been playing. If Dane Byers can make it to the arena in time to play, surely another of his teammates could have made the journey.
*And Byers scored to boot. How pathetic is it that Hartford players account for two of the three Ranger goals in the last two games? I like Byers - I think he has a future in the NHL - but the fact that he can get the puck in and Callahan/Prospal/Dubinsky/Drury/Kotalik can not is kinda sad.
*Being outshot 25-13 over the first two periods is outright inexcusable.
*Enver Lisin showed off some of that world class speed in the loss. Damn shame his linemates couldn't keep up with him.
*That the game was telecast on the Armed Services Networks is even worse. The Rangers were not just embarrassed in Minnesota, but worldwide. High class move by Brandon Dubinsky to thank the soldiers during his intermission interview. Now if he could have just scored a goal for those servicemen ... They are risking their lives every day overseas and the government 'rewards' them by making them listen to Joe Micheletti? Now that is waterboarding in it's worse form.
*Something else that really isn't funny is Chris Drury's continuing presence in the lineup. It was his ghost of a stickcheck that allowed Antti Miettinen to score what proved to be the game-winner. Accountability. Heard the word a hundred times. Sitting the captain now would show that it means something.
*Micheletti can rave all he wants to about Wade Redden's pinch on Byer's goal but if the defenseman missed it, it would have been an odd man rush the other way. There is a difference between being lucky and being good and we have learned the hard way that Redden is far from good. Granted, he wasn't particularly bad either.
*MDZ also had that kind of take-it-or-leave-it performance, which is sad seeing that he got so much ice time. His long, bouncing pass started the play that Marc Staal scored on but it was inches away from being picked off for what would have been a three-on-two. He is still a kid and still has a lot to learn.
*Did Matt Gilroy play? I couldn't tell.
*The Blueshirt blueline sure could use a Greg Zanon or a Nick Schultz. Staal and Girardi are close in capability but not as experienced. Perhaps it is time to split them up?
*I have to admit to my ears perking up every time they said Scott. They were talking about Minnesota's John Scott but still. I remember when the Blueshirts called up that goon Richard Scott from Hartford and wanting his jersey. Ah, memories.
*There surely is more worth talking about in this fresh memory but dwelling on another debacle such as this is pointless. The Rangers have a great chance to rebound with a game on home ice before heading west again, let's hope they make the most of it. I don't think they will, but you never know.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Antti Miettinen - one goal.
2-Mikko Koivu - two assists.
1-Petr Sykora - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - Without the bevy of kicksaves early and a good glove in the second, this game could/should/would have been much worse. The Rangers did little to clog up the shooting lanes and it showed.
2-Sykora - Nothing like a little vengeance. Too bad Aaron Voros couldn't pull something like that off.
1-Koivu - You had to diminish his brother's rock-solid career but Mikko is much more talented. He has all of the tools and once he gets them working with linemates that are up to speed, he will be outright awesome.