Friday, January 15, 2010
22-18-7: Oh So Typical
On Tuesday night the New York Rangers played up to their opponents and Thursday night they played down to them. The players and the coaching staff harped upon "consistency" earlier this season, and the Rangers were consistent - for every big-time, heart-warming effort, they come right back and crush your soul with a disgusting disappointment. I guess we have to be thankful that Thursday's tilt was a 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators as it was the kind of letdown that happens against the Islanders on a seemingly regular basis - a younger, hungrier team outworked the more talented, complacent, overpaid clowns wearing Blueshirts.
Ottawa was desperate to break a five game losing streak and was filled with AHLers filling on for their injured top-end talent. New York was drunk on their recent success and staggered out onto the ice to be out-hustled buzzer to buzzer. The score was 2-0 and the shots were 33-32 but the game wasn't nearly as close. If the Senators had any skill, they would have gotten out of the first period ahead 4-0 with two posts and two blown empty nets. Instead, it took until the 18:46 mark of the third period for them to break onto the scoreboard and bust the hearts and hopes of the Garden crowd.
The coach clearly has no answers. The general manager/president doesn't care. The players are happy to collect their money and be coddled by one of the nicest over-spending organizations in our sport. So what do you expect? On some nights they will get by on talent alone, on others they will get by on the back of Henrik Lundqvist and on the rest they will fail ever so painfully. Like tonight.
*Hank was furious when he was finally scored on and smashed his stick to pieces. Major kudos to one of the Garden ice guys who retrieved the stick and passed it through a photographer window after the game to a little kid. That is one awesome souvenir.
*Chris Campoli? Really? Of all of the Senators, why did it have to be a former Islander that scored the game-winner?
*And why was Arty Anisimov out on the ice for it? The great Russian void spent most of the game ensuring all of Sean Avery's efforts were for naught and got clocked in the third period. And yet Tortorella puts him over the boards with a point in the standings on the line. You hope that giving kids big minutes in big situations pays off, but you do that when you are hopelessly out of the playoffs. Even with Vinny Prospal a winded shell of the player he was pre-injury, there still was no reason for Arty to be out there with the game on the line. This kid needs to be sent back to Hartford to gain 20 pounds of muscle and an understanding that he can't sit back and watch the plays around him.
*Avery, by the way, was the only Ranger actively going after the puck and pressing the action. The rest of his teammates showed the most emotion and effort pushing and shoving in after-whistle scrums.
*Donald Brashear apologists - did you folks enjoy his performance? Two fights for fighting's sake and two losses. The first tussle with Matt Carkner Brashear auditioned for the role of Huggy Bear in the Broadway version of Starsky & Hutch before being pulled to the ice. In the sequel, Brash landed a few punches before Carkner clocked him. Ruutu and Neil were running around, starting many of the aforementioned post-whistle scrums and Brash fights in two staged bouts and loses both. Neanderthal.
*Now I know that the current Sens logo is ugly, but why did most Rangers feel they had to shoot the puck right at it? Mmmmiiiiikkkkkeeeee Brodeur made two, maybe three tough saves in the entire game as the Blueshirts kept throwing the puck at his chest from the middle of the circles.
*It is painful to say it but Marc Staal and Dan Girardi were both terrible, to the point where they were worse than Rozy. Ugh, I feel dirty for just typing that but it's true.
*Hobey Gilroy was barely there but he showed that he is capable of carrying the puck 200 feet with one impressive rush in the third period. It was just a shame that he couldn't finish it. As a friend mentioned the other day, if Hobey was the 19 year old and MDZ the 25 year old, things would make much more sense this season.
*Both Chris Drury and Marian Gaborik blew breakaways with barely a move. That is the captain who is supposed to be clutch and the superstar scorer who hasn't scored in four games. Sure both were slightly covered and Drury drew a power play but both should be able to score on those opportunities. Because lord knows the PP won't put the puck in.
*The power play was 0-2 and awful as usual but at least they didn't give up any shorthanded goals. I consider any Ranger man advantage a success when they don't allow any shorties. It's the little things in life, you know?
*During a break, the Garden had a thing about Haiti and Red Cross donations - which I find hilarious. The Rangers play above Penn Station where dozens of homeless and mentally ill sleep for a few hours every single night, but they aren't as sexy a cause as earthquake relief in a third world country.
*I couldn't bring my sign and risk my season tickets but I still held out some hope that the Sens would take Wade Redden back. They didn't. Dammit.
*Just threw on Ranger Rewind and am watching Dan Blackburn be interviewed by John Giannone. I always liked Blackburn and cringed when Giannone asked him how he wasn't bitter about being forced to retire at 25. That is just a horrible question. Still, the kid handled it with class so that was nice to see.
*Blair Betts was -4 in Philly's 4-0 blanking by Toronto. That has nothing to do with the Ranger game, just something else to depress me tonight.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Chris Campoli - one goal.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 32 saves.
1-Mike Brodeur - 32 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Chris Phillips/Anton Volchenkov - Why couldn't we get Phillips instead of Redden? Phillips is quiet but consistently solid and skates alongside Volchenkov as one outstanding shutdown pairing. Of course the Rangers didn't test them too often but I won't take anything away from them.
2-Hank - The Rangers don't support him offensively. The Rangers don't support him defensively. And yet he still gives them a chance to win. Long live the King.
1-Cory Clouston - Clouston had his team ready to play. John Tortorella did not. Clouston's team skated off the ice with two points. Tortorella's didn't. That simple.