Wednesday, January 13, 2010
The Rangers played their best game of the season and came out without a win on Tuesday night, falling 1-0 to the Devils (of all teams) in a shootout. The match had end-to-end action from start to finish and served as a slap in the face to Bettman and the other idiots who insist that the sport of hockey needs more scoring.
As I've pointed out many times in the past: there are good losses and there are bad losses and this was a good one for the Rangers. They earned a point against the top team in the conference despite being unable to break Jacques Lemaire's trap and get more than a handful of actual scoring chances. It was outright painful to see Mmmmaaarrrttyyy be attributed with 55 saves in the game (including the four in the shootout) considering he barely need to break a sweat. Especially as poor Hank was under fire on the other end. The Devils moved with ease into scoring positions to get off good shots but the Ranger defense did quite well to limit second chances.
*Anyone else remember the NY/Florida, Richter vs Vanbiesbrouck battle back in the day? I felt like tonight's tilt had a lot of similar qualities ... unfortunately this post-lockout match had to have the shootout instead of ending 0-0.
*It is strange to say but from top to bottom, the Blueshirt blueline was outstanding. Rozsival played his best game as a Ranger since Jaromir Jagr left and even Wade Redden wasn't bad steering rebounds away from the crease.
*Hank made good save after good save as Bergfors, Rolston and Parise sliced through the Ranger zone to get off quality shots. After watching Lundqvist sprawl, dive and butterfly back and forth to make so many stops, it was disappointing that his glove hand was completely frozen as Patrik Elias' game-winner flew by.
*Where the Devil sniper scored, Marian Gaborik tried to be too cute and Mmmmaaarrrttyyy had little trouble stopping him. It was a stark contrast from Gaborik's cut to the net and shot in the OT that trickled past Fatso only to hit the far post. I had a perfect view from my perch in 329 and that was just oh-so-close.
*Vinny Prospal's return was alright but not great. He was clearly rusty and ran out of gas by the overtime. Once he gets the feet back under him, it is clear that he will be a big help, especially with Christensen still playing well (shootout 'attempt' notwithstanding).
*Brian Boyle played to the best of his ability, but his stone hands cost the Rangers a win. How the guy gets a breakaway and doesn't make a move and shoots it right at the opposing netminder is beyond me. He earned some redemption with his physical play late in the third period but the simple fact is that he bricked with the game on his stick.
*Much like Ales Kotalik. That guy is a disgrace. He was brought in for his shot on the power play and his ability in the shootout but he couldn't get a shot off with the man advantage and, for the second straight shootout, completely underwhelmed with his skill competition "effort." Three million dollars a year for three years. If they want to carry a power play and circus sideshow specialist, P.A. Parenteau would be a much cheaper option.
*Why was Donald Brashear dressed when New Jersey scratched Andrew Peters and, with Fatso in net, scoring was sure to be at a premium? Enver Lisin's breakaway speed would have been a bigger boon than anything that was brought by the lumber goon.
*The Avery/Mmmmaaaarrrtttyyy battle never escalated beyond some trash talking behind the plays and occasional contact - reminders to each other that they knew where the other was. Avery did play a good game and got some decent shots on net but Chris Higgins was never there (or able) to finish them off. Arty Anisimov showed he isn't the proper center for those wingers, at least now. The kid needs some more muscle so he can power to the net more often. If he gets that, it will free Avery and Higgins to get the garbage goals instead of it being them constantly trying to work the puck off the boards.
*It would be easy to harp on the officiating missing so many calls early on but at least they didn't go the easy route and make nickel-dime Avery Rule calls all night. For the most part they let the teams play the game and it was much better for it. Of course, the Rangers having to deal with 1:39 of a 5-on-3 was a little stupefying but they miraculously pulled out the kill and injected serious life into the Garden.
*There were a good number of Devil fans scattered around the building but, thankfully for all parties involved, they only came to life after Elias scored to seal the game and even then were a bit subdued.
*The music in the Garden was marginally better than usual but was still a far cry from the fun bands I heard in Fenway.
*Parise, Travis Zajac and defenseman Andy Greene were all outstanding for the Devils. And that is all I will say about that.
*Re-reading this, it comes off as quite pessimistic - like many of my posts - but the game was quite impressive. It was exciting, entertaining and a great time. It was just the result that was heartbreaking. Damned Devils.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Patrik Elias - shootout goal.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 45 saves.
1-Martin Brodeur - 51 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Parise - I hate you Hugh Jessiman.
2-Mmmmaaaarrrtttyyy - Ok, so I wasn't impressed with most of his saves but tubby still made them and skated away with the win. Boo.
1-Hank - Could you imagine how good the King would be behind a Lemaire system?