Sunday, December 13, 2009
14-15-2: Let's Go Mets!
I heard "Let's Go Mets!" twice walking out of the Garden tonight and "at least we have the Mets" once.
When you are a New York sports fan and you are looking forward to Mets baseball, then there is something seriously, seriously wrong. And there are many things seriously, seriously wrong with the New York Rangers right now.
The Blueshirts dropped below .500 for the first time since going 0-1 after losing the season opener by losing to the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. I would love to go on an elegantly crafted rant detailing the many issues effecting the Rangers but let's face it, the team isn't worth it. The GM and the coach are incompetent, the players have little skill and even less heart and the hardcore fans aren't showing up en mass, allowing the away side to gain a tangible presence in the Garden.
It is disgusting, disturbing and disappointing but it is the story of the Rangers right about now. The Islanders moved past them in the standings and the Blueshirts need to get their act together because they can play themselves out of the playoffs with this stretch towards New Years. Three games against the Islanders, two against the Flyers, two against the Canes, one against the Panthers and one against the Thrashers. That is nine games against five conference opponents, four of whom (except for Carolina) will be ahead of the Blueshirts before 2010. Terrific.
Some notes on the latest failure:
*John Tortorella needs to be fired. Arrogant, idiot of a coach who clearly has no idea of what it takes to win in the post-lockout NHL and no idea of how to motivate his charges. Juggling lines constantly does not lead to success, just as they didn't for his predecessor. Pete Laviolette was just picked up but Ted Nolan is still out there, right? Perhaps there is another hot shot junior coach worthy of a look, like Pete DeBoer in Florida?
*At no point during the third period did I think the Rangers had the least bit of a chance to tie the game. They never showed any spark and certainly gave up with a minute left when Torts put Chris Drury on the point with the man advantage. There have been 83 seasons of Ranger hockey and Drury is the 25th captain (counting Messier just once). Drury will also go down as the worst.
*The Rangers lined Donald Brashear up against Patrick Kaleta to keep the Sabres pest from taking any liberties. He failed. Sure Kaleta didn't kill any individual Rangers, but he killed the team with two goals. First a hat trick by Mike Rupp, now two for Kaleta. The shame.
*Kaleta's shorty was a beauty - grabbing the puck past Kotalik, racing down the ice and firing a shot through the massive hole over Hank's left shoulder. Perhaps Beezer is around somewhere and can show Hank how to use that glove-thingy.
*Rozsival, Redden, whatever. Can't say I saw enough of Heineken to judge him against Hobey. MDZ is showing his age, making mistakes and struggling to keep pucks on the right side of the blue line. But that is part of the growing process. That will come, for now he just has to stop trying to check so much - being physical isn't his job.
*PA Parenteau's job is to score goals but how do the Rangers expect him to do that on lines with Brian Boyle, Donald Brashear or any of the half dozen other fourth liners that this franchise is carrying?
*Erik Christensen needs more ice time. This kid set up a scoring chance and was visibly upset that the puck didn't go in. It is about time a Ranger showed some signs that he cared. Arty Anisimov, are you listening? Dead Russian Skating.
*Sean Avery is usually good for some emotion that but he was invisible for much of this one. He was boarded early in the first period and didn't get a call and was lucky not to be called for a dive in the third period when he went down like he was shot in the head after he tumbled while making a poor attempt at splitting the Buffalo defense.
*Down 3-2 with the puck in the final seconds of the second period and the Rangers just stopped. Why try for a rush in the final 10 seconds, or even fire off a long distance shot and hope for a Salo? They just killed the clock, went into the locker room and took a break. Shameful. But these guys don't feel shame with their inflated paycheques, do they?
*Random Buffalo observations: I can't wait to root for Ryan Miller in Vancouver with Team USA. Derek Roy is everything Chris Drury isn't. Tyler Myers is gigantic. Tim Kennedy looks like he is 12 years old. Jason Pominville's post-hit in the third period was amazingly loud. Lindy Ruff is a helluva coach; he had his tired team playing a solid road game that allowed the Rangers to skate themselves to death while allowing Rhino to see most every puck that came on net.
*It must be said that the Ranger power play produced two pretty goals - the snipe from Gabby through a screen and the slam dunk by Cally in the slot. Imagine that, a Ranger in the slot during the power play! What a concept. Don't worry, it didn't last as the Rangers stayed out to the periphery to kill their own last two power plays, right when they needed to take risks to equalize.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Marian Gaborik - one goal and one assist.
2-Patrick Kaleta - two goals.
1-Ryan Miller - 36 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Chris Higgins - At the end of the game someone in my section yelled at Higgins to get his head out of his ass. I asked him why he singled out Higgins and he just said, "well, Higgins was near the puck." Smithtown played every second of every shift, something only maybe Cally could say as well.
2-Rhino - Miller saw the puck, he stopped the puck. And we didn't have Scott Gomez to go out there and injure him.
1-Kaleta - A fourth line scrub scored two big goals and had a number of hits. If I was a Sabre fan, I would be damned happy with a performance like that. But I am a Ranger fan and not happy at all. At all. Please guys, show some signs of life. It's XMas season, give me that. I'm not asking for much. Am I???