Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The Rangers had several chances to grab the wheel of their game against the Canucks tonight and instead played the passenger, ultimately falling 4-1 in Vancouver. The Canucks were missing their two top players but still prevailed over a full-strength Ranger side.
One of my friends placed full blame on the power play's inability to score - both at the end of the second and when Bieksa took his unsportsmanlike - and I can't disagree but I think that the issue is bigger. The Rangers of the last few weeks make mistakes, get outworked and have trouble scoring. They beat the Bruins by matching the B's effort and minimizing mistakes. They didn't do either tonight against a hard-skating Canuck side and lost. That simple, and that sad.
Notes, starting on a high note:
*Chris Higgins scored. A goal. Really. Of course, Rozy had to help give it right back two minutes later but Higgins scored! Finally! ThankyaJesus!!
*Had Rozy played the body or the puck on Ryan Kesler, Rick Rypien wouldn't have scored to negate Higgins' goal. As a defenseman, he has to make the choice and go hard with it - instead he gave lip service to covering Kesler and Kesler swooped past him to grab the puck, go around the boards and find Rypien for the game-winner.
*The third Vancouver goal I won't fault Rozy for. The replays clearly showed that Sedin grabbed Rozy's stick and dived. Clear as day, with the referee watching. That isn't to say that Rozy was competent through the game - far from it - but the penalty wasn't his fault.
*But Wade; Wade, Wade, Wade, Wade. Not even your dad's presence could make you suck less. There simply is no hope. I counted at least two other turnovers by the overpaid putz before he panicked with the puck and fed it to the Canucks, allowing them to score their first goal of the game. It is so sad to think that this franchise has at least two, if not three or four NHL-capable defensemen in Hartford and they have to toil in the bus league while this guy sits on charter planes and counts his money. He makes rookie mistakes despite being a veteran of over a thousand NHL games (including playoffs).
*I guess that that Tortorella accountability thing doesn't extend to guys who make more than three mil. Talk is cheap after all and it is easy to bench newbies, Avery and Higgins; not as easy to bench Redden, Rozy and Dru - yet that is exactly what must be done. He did use MDZ and Hobey with the team down two and Hank pulled but he needs to send Redden and Rozy to the press box.
*The third period tussle certainly was something. Alain Vigneault made the smart move to put Kevin Bieksa out to harass Gabby - really a great hockey move considering Willie Mitchell was hurting at that point - and Dane Byers took exception, setting off a push-and-shove-fest. Credit to Byers for stepping up; you know Brash wouldn't have done a damn thing. And then Byers was beat down by Tanner Glass at the end of the game but at least Byers took him on.
*That little melee and the fallout was exceptional. Dubi holding a guy off with one hand, Aaron Voros looking completely lost looking for a partner. And that Sean Avery/Shane O'Brien business was just spectacular. I would have loved for Avery to hand O'Brien's stick to the fans ... of course, maybe then he would have been penalized but still, woulda been funny. Absolutely unfunny was Sam and Joe's complete and utter confusion. They had no idea whatsoever what was going on, who was involved, what penalties were being awarded. My buddy Pete was watching the TSN feed and said that they had it all down - probably because they are capable professionals.
*Micheletti needs to learn that when he has nothing to say or no clue, he shouldn't say anything at all. Of course then he would never speak but at the least, there is no point in repeating just what Sam just said. Oh, and he is not funny or amusing, at all, so he shouldn't try to be. Cringe-worthy performance, as always.
*On the other side of the coin, all credit given and due to Ales Kotalik. For yet another game he was a huge offensive threat for the Blueshirts. He just needs some bounces to go his way and to get that cannon on net a little more.
*And while I am appreciating some of the few Rangers who played hard, Matt Gilroy was solid yet again. Sure, anyone looks great compared to Rozy and Redden, but Hobey is stepping up his game and playing good hockey.
*Could John Giannone massaged MDZ's ego any more during the first intermission interview? I half expected John to ask Del Zotto for a date. 'You've been so good, and you're just dreamy, will you watch Chocolat with me on dvd?' At least pretend to be a journalist for a few minutes John.
*How is it possible that Ryan Callahan is so visible, doing so many good things shift after shift and Drury is virtually invisible?? And where was Dubi in this one? He tempted us with big play early this season and has fallen well short lately.
*Finally, since I'm tired and annoyed, I know it sounds like boasting but they mentioned the Olympics throughout the broadcast so I want to mention again that I'm gonna be there for a bit of it. Got tix to five games, can't freakin' wait!!!!! Definitely expect to see better efforts out on that ice when I go than what I watched tonight, that's for sure.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Andrew Raycroft - 22 saves.
2-Mikael Samuelsson - two goals.
1-Ryan Kesler - three assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Byers - It is about time that the Rangers have a player who will stand up for his teammates. You take liberties, we are going to get you - that's how it should be. Byers skated hard for his five minutes and he cared; it's not rocket science. Admittedly, I wanted to give Higgins this spot but he was a big part of the power play's failure so he lost star power.
2-Kesler - Kesler grabbed three helpers playing with linemates who can seal the deal. Cally played alongside Chris Drury.
1-Willie Mitchell - I've professed my appreciation for Mitchell's hard work in the past and it really find it a treat to watch a defensive defenseman of his caliber. Marian Gaborik wasn't the world class threat he normally was, and that was all courtesy of Mitchell.