Boston Sucks! At least on this night, they sucked more than the Rangers did as the Blueshirts beat the Bruins 3-2. Of course, the Rangers had to make it interesting by blowing a two goal lead with four minutes but they pulled through in the end to actually win a home game.
But before I get to that, after nearly a century of sports rivalries the best that fans can do is come up with a chant that goes "Boston sucks, Boston sucks"?? Weak and quite possibly even more annoying than Potvin Sucks. Well, possibly.
Ok, back to something that matters - pucks. As Mr. X From The Blue Seats pointed out, the two teams are both struggling to score, are both struggling to get healthy and both have too many third and fourth liners. Guess that is what made it such a close game. That plus both teams' utter inability to put together cohesive attacks. But boo hoo for Boston and yay for us as the Rangers actually won a game in New York. What a wonderful change of pace.
Of course, I wouldn't be me if I didn't start off on a sour note:
*The Ranger power play seriously needs more work. They spent seven minutes in the first period with a man advantage - including over a full minute of a two-man advantage - and managed just one goal. We definitely have to be pleased that Ales Kotalik's shot blasted through Tuukka Rask but the Bruins opened the door to a Ranger blowout and the Blueshirts couldn't walk through.
*Kotalik, by the way, continues to be terrible doing everything aside from shooting and the line that Tortorella rolled out of Kotalik, Arty Anisimov and Sean Avery may be one of the worst since the beginning of the last century. Kotalik is a joke (he blew an empty net!), Anisimov is tentative and timid and Avery keeps trying to do too much and is failing at everything. We've seen that Avery can be a decent player but he hasn't played with the same line for much more than a single game this season and is on a completely different page then the two guys Torts stuck him with tonight.
*Erik Christensen, meanwhile, is flourishing in his role as first line center. The goal he scored in the second period was a thing of beauty: MDZ throws a long pass down the ice, Christy picks it up in the neutral zone, skates downt eh right wing, holds off a defender as he cut towards the crease and slides the puck through Rask's open five hole. It was purty. His presence in the middle has allowed Brandon Dubinsky to be more proactive all over the ice, and that has given the first line more scoring chances. And when you get enough chances, eventually you are going to score.
*Case in point: Chris Higgins. FINALLY!! Smithtown has always hustled and just was a bit snake bitten. Ok, a lot snake bitten. For him to get the game winner with a jam-in after Boston had climbed back to tie it with four minutes left ... wow, it was sheer bliss for him and for those of us that have kept the faith.
*Ryan Callahan has to keep the faith. All too often we noticed him making a strong play to hustle the puck down the ice, draw several defenders and see that his linemates had abandoned him to go for a change.
*The Bruins tied it by scoring a shorty and a Rozy - and both types of goals are inexcusable. We've seen far too many shorthanded goals against in recent years and far too many goals directly accountable to Michal Rozsival. The power play simply needs to be better and Rozy has to go.
*That being said, Rozy did have one good defensive stop and was better than Matt Gilroy. Hobey was horrible, playing perhaps his worst game in a Ranger jersey to date. He looked lost and confused out there, making bad reads and turning the puck over. The difference between him and Rozy is 580 or so NHL games and $3.25 million per season.
*Brian Boyle plays how Susan Boyle looks: ugly and soft. After a pretty decent start against Carolina the other day, he has gone back to making us loathe John Tortorella for getting rid of Blair Betts - we can hate him for so many other things. Like the shocking regularity that he puts too many men on the ice. He must have the guys on the bench so wound up (or annoyed with him) that they leap off the bench too quickly.
*Sure glad Donald Brashear dressed for this one. At one point he actually enforced - stood between a Ranger and a Bruin that were jawing in front of the benches. The rest, well, his last shift was priceless with a bad pass, a shot at the back of the net and a fall on his face in the corner. Get rid of this guy already!
*How was Rask not called for a delay of game penalty late in the third period? Cally rang his bell with a hard shot to the head and the Rangers were attacking in numbers so Rask yanked off his own mask and threw it to the ice to get the automatic whistle. To the best of my knowledge, that is a delay of game, right?
*I love watching Steve Begin play. Just wanted to say that.
*Also, if not for an update from NYR34 during the game, I can't say I would have noticed Patrice Bergeron's absence. Kinda feel bad for the guy, to get hurt again after the concussion and all and the appointment to Team Canada, but I will feel better about it if Shane Doan gets his spot in Vancouver.
*The Garden actually played Guns N Roses and Motley Crue late in the third period, a nice change from the usual 90s dance fare that is blared in our ears. As enjoyable as it was to hear real music, it was too loud as always. The in-house guys also had a bit more organ than usual in the evening's playlist, which was wonderful - even if they played Lady of Spain, seriously.
Don't ever play Lady of Spain again!
*PHW Three Stars
3-Blake Wheeler - one goal and one assist.
2-Brandon Dubinsky - two assists.
1-Chris Higgins - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Matt Hunwick - The underrated defenseman keyed the Boston comeback; Wheeler just took advantage of Rozy, and that is no big feat.
2-Christy - That was one pretty goal to make it a 2-0 game and he, like I said, has been making Dubi a better player, something Vinny Prospal hadn't done.
1-Smithtown - The AP wire story pointed out that it was Higgins' first goal in the Garden since October of 2005. Well, he picked a good time to score, that's for sure.