Are you sure that Tom Renney no longer coaches the New York Rangers? I'm not. The Blueshirts played a typical Renney game in Chicago and lost to the Blackhawks 2-1. The good news? They were able to hold on to get a point before falling in overtime.
Just like the loss to Detroit, the Rangers got themselves a 1-0 lead and tried to nurse it to the final buzzer.
It didn't work.
The Blueshirt blueline actually acquitted themselves quite well throughout the night to limit Chicago to low-percentage scoring chances as the offense collapsed in front of them. That was, before Dustin Byfuglien walked right around Hobey Gilroy and slid the puck through a mediocre Henrik Lundqvist.
And yes, I thought Hank was quite mediocre. The talking heads on TV can rave all they like but Hank sat deep in his crease and rarely had to make a decent save - thanks to the defense in front of him if you can believe that (more on them later). The stop on Jon Toews in the second period was completely luck as Toews lost the puck and Hank's poke check missed. And this isn't just blind bashing; remember, I've been defending the King while the masses have been questioning his capability (especially after the Detroit loss). Which brings me to the new poll: do you think Hank will win Stanley with the Rangers? Not this year - there is a better chance of me going to the moon - but before he leaves New York, do you think Henrik Lundqvist will ever win a championship?
*The Hawks have a good chance this season, but they don't have the goaltending. Cristobal Huet is horrid and yet the Rangers barely tested him. One shot on goal in the third? How embarrassing.
*Donald Brashear's first shift back from "injury" and Ben Eager takes the puck right off his stick for a shot on net. He did recover and actually got some shots off. The pathetic part of it all? He had more, better chances than most of his teammates. If that doesn't make you feel shame, I don't know what does.
*Wade Redden also returned and was part of defense that did so well to keep the Hawks to the outside. I was more than ready to rail on him but he and the other five blueliners (even and especially Rozy) helped hold the fort as the offense collapsed in front of them. When you consider that none of them have the strength to knock players off the puck, they did yeoman work.
*But at the same time, it was the same old story with the Rangers: when they don't play the body around the net they set themselves up for trouble. Trapped around their own net the Blueshirts scramble, swing their sticks around and lose track of the puck, allowing Chicago to equalize with a power play goal. All someone (Brian Boyle) had to do was to knock Toews on his ass. That simple.
*After being an atrocious -4 against the Pens in the 5-2 loss, Chris Higgins has himself a three game point scoring streak. He opened this game's scoring with a high, hard wrister off the rush down the left wing. It was quite familiar as he scored the same way against Buffalo and he passed instead of shot on the Boyle goal against the Wings. Hey, if it works, keep doing it Chris.
*Cally couldn't come through with a goal but his penalty kill work in the third period keeps him off the hate list and gives a little reprieve before we get back to questioning his ability.
*Midway through the third period Ales Kotalik ran at Duncan Keith from behind for his third dirty/dangerous hit this season. When not taking big shots on the power play, this guy is a three million dollar waste of money. And he lost his power play time so he is rapidly becoming a prime contender for an offseason buy-out.
*OT - does anyone still think the Geico caveman commercials are funny or interesting? Did anyone in the first place? I won't buy their insurance purely because their advertising is so awful.
*How long before Arty Anisimov gets the BUST label and is shipped out of town? After an extended apprenticeship on the farm, Arty has been given every chance to succeed and hasn't. Maybe he will be better once Geno Grachev gets to Broadway, but can we wait that long?
*Why is it that Drury and Arty are doing so little shift after shift and Erik Christensen spends most of the game on the bench? The new guy went 4-0 at the faceoff dot on just seven shifts.
*Dru ... as mean as it sounds, I was hoping that that blocked shot would knock him out of the lineup again and for a long time. He contributes so little night after night and gets so many minutes. It is disheartening. Maybe when Dubi comes back the pressure will lessen and Dru can regain some of his game. This is the guy who has come through with so many clutch goals when the pressure is the highest and he appears to be crushed by his captaincy.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Jonathan Toews - one goal.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 39 saves.
1-Dustin Byfuglien - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Higgins - Even though he will be gone after this season, I think we need a nickname for him. Higgs? Higgy? Ziggy? One-and-Done? The Hab? Smithtown? I'm liking Smithtown - after his Long Island hometown. Whatever we call him, Higgins had his best game as a Ranger to date. Not saying too much but still an accomplishment.
2-Duncan Keith - Keith was on the ice every other shift for Chicago and moved the puck quite well. It was his feed that caught Byfuglien in stride so the big man could sweep around Hobey to score the game-winner.
1-Toews - So that is how a captain is supposed to lead his team. Skate hard, go to the net, get the puck and never give up.