After watching so many losses of late at the Garden, it was nice leaving the building with the team having earned a point in their 3-2 shootout loss to Atlanta. Seriously. Just think about the point - nothing more. Just the point. Because if you look into that point, and look at the game that was played to get that point ... well, you'll want to puke. I know I do.
If a team puts so much effort to force a shootout, don't you think they would want to actually show up for said shootout? Marian Gaborik went wide and took a half-assed wrist shot right at Moose Hedberg's leg. Ilya Kovalchuk pulled his best Michal Nylander to outwait Henrik Lundqvist to score. Ales Kotalik, well, he just lost the puck - somehow appropriate considering Sather signed him for his shot and his acumen in shootouts. Slava Kozlov ends it all on Hank, who barely flinched as the puck was fired past him.
Of course, this game should never have reached a shootout, what with all of the missed chances during regulation. MDZ blowing chances on the doorstep, Sean Avery and Kotalik missing mostly empty nets and Chris Higgins missing everything. It has been an on-going thing between my buddy Eric and I that he rails at Higgins' misses, and I defend the kid's effort - at least he is trying. Well, on Higgins first big miss where his open wrister hit the glass behind the goal, Eric turned and just started yelling at me, 'hey, at least he tried!!!!' I laughed hysterically and things just got worse from there with Higs missing gift-wrapped chances again and again and again. If you don't laugh, you cry.
But at least he tried.
Time is short for me tonight so more thoughts on the game:
*It was nice to have Brandon Dubinsky back but he clearly did not have faith in his shot. He passed up prime chances to shoot the puck and when he did, the puck lacked all zip. Dubi did provide a spark and will be a big help but not until he regains his confidence in his body and his skills.
*With Dubi in the lineup, Erik Christensen was benched - another mistake among the myriad of blunders by Tortorella. It was somehow ironic/poetic/pathetic that Christensen's former Penguin pal Colby Armstrong scored for Atlanta. When you pick up an offensive-minded forward off waivers, why would you not dress him when your team is lacking offense? To keep Arty Anisimov or Brian Boyle in the lineup? Anisimov's play resembles that of the actual Russian hockey-playing bears and Boyle is the smallest big man I think I have ever seen ... check that, second smallest after Mr. Malik.
*P.A. Parenteau was bounced back to Hartford so Enver Lisin can get back into action but he hardly got any ice time at all. He would have been perfect to throw out on the ice in the overtime with him not tired and having all the space for his speed but instead he rotted on the bench.
*Vinny Prospal - where hast thou gone? Already looking for a new home before the trade deadline?
*Do the Rangers have a penchant for inflating save totals or what? Hedberg, Joey MacDonald, Rick DiPietro ... these guys come out looking like superstars while barely having to break sweats stopping the half-hearted garbage tossed their way by the limp Ranger offense.
*Ron Hainsey did the Rangers a favour by pulling down Chris Drury on the breakaway. There was no way in hell that Dru was going to score and instead of wasting a shot on net, the Blueshirts got a power play and MDZ found Cally for a purty goal.
*I said it first, I've said it several times before and it looks like I will be stuck saying it for a long time - Chris Drury will go down as the worst captain in team history. Sure he can kill some penalties but he has no offense, rarely wins big faceoffs and looks lost out on the ice while chasing the puck. If he doesn't put up points against the Islanders - the one team he historically shows up against - on Wednesday or Thursday, then all hope for him is lost.
*There is simply no hope for Redden or Rozy or Brash but we knew that already. I may loathe Brash but at least he doesn't hurt his team while mindlessly lurching around the ice. Redden and Rozy are outright incompetent and seemingly incapable of making it through games without sending some passes directly to the opposition. I was actually glad Brash didn't fight Boulton, there was no need for their brand of goonery in this game.
*As miserable as much of the night was, that third period 5-on-3 kill for more than a minute was one of the best things I have seen in the Garden in several years.
*The building woke up for that, a nice change from the sleepy moribund atmosphere that filled it for the rest of the evening. And the Rangers are certain to claim a sell-out but if there were more than 14,000 fans in the building I would be shocked. More than half the luxury boxes were empty and there were wide swaths of empty seats everywhere you looked. To their credit, a friend reported that Garden staff were giving free upgrades to many people up in the Blue Seats. Because the hardcore fans wanted to get closer to the steaming, stinking pile of ... Ranger hockey. Still, it was a nice thing for the Garden to do.
*Nice to see Harry Howell and Eddie Giacomin back in the building and getting recognized by the few fans who were awake.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Marian Gaborik - one goal.
2-Michael Del Zotto - two assists.
1-Johan Hedberg - 46 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hedberg - Moose maintained his composure instead of laughing at the pitifully weak attempts against him - like Kotalik's shootout performance.
2-Ron Hainsey - USA! USA! USA! Hainsey logged big minutes and was rock solid. Plus he made a good feed to Army to set up the shorty that made it a 2-1 game for Atlanta. Hainsey and Zach Bogosian wouldn't be a bad pairing for the Americans to take to Vancouver.
1-Slava Kozlov - The ageless former Red Wing almost always does well against the Rangers and this game was no different as he recorded a power play goal and the shootout winner.