Monday, December 21, 2009
17-16-3: Three In A Row!
There are many reasons to be happy and there are many reasons to be cautious when considering the Rangers 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. The Rangers got even strength goals, got great goaltending and won their third game in a row. All reason to celebrate. However, don't get too giddy. Marian Gaborik is carrying the Ranger offense singlehandedly, Henrik Lundqvist has had to be great in these games and the last three Ranger opponents have all sucked.
The Rangers turned the puck over time after time, there were Hurricanes getting open in good scoring positions left and right and the penalty kill was called upon three times to make up for lazy gaffes. Don't get me wrong, I am quite happy to see signs of life coming from the Rangers, but I refuse to get my hopes up as this franchise has crushed them time and time again. Teasing us with bursts of skill. Tempting with wins. Then looking DOA when really tested. These guys just beat the worst team in the NHL, how can you get too excited? They will face Florida on Wednesday - the Panthers beating up on Philly tonight - and the Isles on Saturday. We will see where we stand after those two ...
*You know what I love? When Micheletti rambles on about nothing, making himself giggle like a schoolgirl while play is going on. Love it. I also love that he gushes about Wade Redden and Donald Brashear every chance he gets. He definitely knows which way the wind blows.
*Michal Rozsival is still not No. 1 or 2 defenseman and certainly is not worth his contract. However, it must be said that he has been more decisive of late than he was to start this season (or all of last year) and was the best Blueshirt blueliner on this night. I can't believe I actually said that but it's true. His positioning was as good as it has ever been, he made smart passes and knock the puck into or past Hank. Which is always a good quality for a defenseman.
*Hobey and Wade returned and both fared fine. Hobey made a great pass early in the first and then faded into the background, which is fine for a young defenseman. Wade was more visible, if only because Micheletti pointed out everything he did whenever he did it. Staal, Rozy and Girardi took all of the hard minutes so we will have to wait a little bit longer to see if the demoting/benching worked.
*Tortorella kept switching Enver Lisin and Ales Kotalik between the third and fourth lines. The two were quite interchangeable with Lisin showing a bit more jump and Kotalik a little more physicality but otherwise they were nothing. That is sad when a $3 million dollar forward is playing every bit as good as a borderline NHLer, but at least he didn't give the Canes any breakaways.
*What can you say about Sergei Samsonov's goal? Dude pulled an old school wrap around with Hank too far out of his crease to get back. The best part about it is that Ward over-committed just as Hank did seconds later, allowing Gabby to tie the game with an open shot from the slot.
*So there was Vinny Prospal! After several games of invisibility he was spotted turning the puck over a few times and taking a bad penalty. It is a long season but it seems like a heckuva long time since he was relevant. He collected an assist on the tic-tac-toe Dubi goal but for the most part has been a shadow of the player who started the season with something to prove.
*Anyone else harbour some hatred for Cullen and Ward? Reverse carpetbaggers.
*I enjoyed watching Rod Brind'Amour play from his St. Louis days but his time has clearly gone. His skills have withered to the point where my dad figures that Brind'Amour is still in hockey either playing for the love of the game or the paycheque ($3.6 mil) ...
*At least Erik Christensen is collecting a NHL salary, considering he isn't getting a real chance at being a NHL player. Putting the poor guy over the boards with Donald Brashear is just criminal. Christensen forechecked well, actually carried the puck well, and on one rush got into scoring position but dished the puck to Brashear. I know you will be surprised to hear it, but the puck did not end up in the Carolina net. Amazing.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 32 saves.
2-Brandon Dubinsky - one goal and one assist.
1-Marian Gaborik - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Rozy - Seriously, Rozy was good. He even bailed out Staalsie when he went chasing after a few hits. I am as surprised as you are.
2-Gabby - His talent was never questioned, just his ability to stay healthy. He has been healthy and he has been showing off his talent. And damn, that man is good.
1-Hank - One bad goal, no shots over his shoulder and several stellar saves.