"Hey Reg! Reg! What did you say to him?"That stellar exchange, of course, came from Slap Shot as Mo wondered what Reggie Dunlop said to set off Ducks goaltender Tommy Hanrahan. We will never know what John Tortorella said to the Rangers during the first intermission of Sunday's game that set them off but whatever it was, it must have been just as much of a gem. All of a sudden the passes that were getting caught in skates were on the mark, the shots were on the net, the rebounds were pounced upon, the soft players played tough ... geez, I mean, Wade Redden got into a fight. And won!
"I told him his wife was a d*ke."
And the Rangers won, defeating their Original Six rival Montreal Canadiens 6-2. It was exciting and it was convincing, two adjectives that you could hardly ever use in the Garden this season. The Blueshirts being the Blueshirts, they will likely fall flat on their faces against Tampa on Tuesday but let's just bask in the afterglow of this one for a little while. Notes:
*Wade Redden fighting. OMFG. If you made me make a list of people possibly getting into a fight on Sunday night, Redden would have been somewhere in the same area as Dancing Grandma. But Wade tossed down his gloves and traded blows with Benoit Pouliot in revenge for Pouliot's head-shot on Christensen. Redden fared quite well in a wild battle considering neither player ever fights and received his first ever ovation in MSG. Redden has scored, gotten assists and still his name was booed when it was announced. He fights and the building goes bananas. Do we think that it justifies the $8.1 million he is making this season? Abso-f-ing-lutely not. Do we appreciate he finally breaking a sweat and some blood vessels in the name of the team? Very much so.
*That tussle came just four minutes after Sean Avery tangled with (and kicked the crap out of) Josh Gorges in another battle. After Avery got called for two garbage calls in the first period (keep grinding that ax refs), Avery didn't calm down or disappear, he was Sean Avery and showed that he will back up his barbs with his fists. The only shame is that he only traded harsh words with Scott Gomez and not punches.
*The MexiCan't was booed heartily for most of the night. While a good friend of mine believes that Ranger fans should thank Gomez for accepting the trade to Montreal, I disagree. I don't think he had a choice in the matter (even with the contract clause) and it was only proper to voice our disapproval for his lackluster career in a Blueshirt. We paid too much money to watch the smirking clown circle senselessly and play such halfhearted pucks.
*The other half of that Sather summer signing, Chris Drury, had one of his best games in a long, looooong time. He showed more emotion on the ice when he disputed the second period penalty call then he has all season long and then channeled that emotion into his play. Drury played well on the power play keeping the puck in the Habs zone, he went sliding to break up a two-on-one and then collected an goal and an assist in the third period. I ripped on Drury over at Puck Daddy on a post about him being named to Team USA but could be convinced that I was wrong if he proves that this display was anything more than an aberration.
*The power play, by the way, still only went one-for six. But I won't go too nuts about it seeing as the kill actually scored a shorthanded goal. There are few things I enjoy more than shorties so when Dubi followed up Cally's breakaway to score the equalizer, I went nuts. Awesomeness.
*Cally, Dubi, Dru, Gabby and Vinny all picked up multiple points. Poor Chris Higgins, facing his former team, was shut out. Smithtown even saw time on the power play but couldn't get things together. At one point in the first period he was chasing after the puck the way a puppy chases after a ball as the playground kids threw it around. He is definitely trying, but he isn't succeeding and that needs to change.
*For all of the physical play, and the tide turning on Montreal in the second period, you would think Georges Laraques would have been called upon to do that voodoo that he does so well but he was barely there. Like our boy Brashear, perhaps this goon's day is done.
*The Canadiens' vaunted Lollipop Guild power play was quite unimpressive. They allowed the shorthanded goal and only scored on a tally that should not have counted. Brian Gionta knocked the puck in with a high stick but the referee waited a second before pointing and calling it a goal. By him making that call on the ice, it would take a definitive replay to overturn the goal, and there are very few definitive angles that show high sticks. So, of course, the goal withstood the review and Hank used the next tv timeout to talk to the ref and show him that when the goaltender on his knees, his helmet is at the level of the crossbar and Gionta's stick was over his helmet. But since Gionta is a oompa loompa, the ref clearly didn't believe that he could get his stick up that high so he wasn't swayed by Hank's demonstration.
*Video replay worked in our favour on Cally's power play goal. From up in my perch in 329, I had the perfect view and there was zero doubt that it crossed the goal line. Of course, there was a ref right behind the net who somehow didn't call it in in the first place but the NHL officiating has been disgraceful of late.
*Nice to see Paul Mara get miraculously cured when he saw Drury go to the penalty box for the second period high stick. The lumberjack fell like a ton of bricks on the contact - which he initiated by hitting himself with Drury's stick - and laid on the ice in oh-so-much pain until Drury was escorted away. Mara then got back up on his skates, praise Jesus, and chased after the refs when he saw that he was being called for the hold. What's the adage? If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'??
*As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, because Rozsival was so good in St. Louis, I would wear my replica jersey of his to the Garden tonight. Well I did. And we won so superstition dictates that I have to wear it again. Sonofabitch.
*There was a massive Montreal presence in the building - surely over a thousand fans. There are few things as gratifying as mockingly chanting their silly soccer chant right back at them after the Ranger turned the tables. Ole, ole, ole, ole ... and the brief USA, USA chant was priceless. As they just said on the broadcast, the building has been waiting for signs of life for a long time and it was so great to see them tonight and be able to roar in response.
*Way back at the top I said that John Tortorella must have said something to spur the turnaround. Watching Ranger Rewind, Ryan Callahan said that they just stuck with their game and things went well. If that is the case, then this team is even more infuriating than I thought because it shows that they are always capable of turnarounds like this and periods like the second. They just don't/won't do it.
*You know, these Original Six games are just so good, that it is such a shame that we have the Lightning to look forward to next. It has been said before, these old rivalries should be encouraged and honoured. Forget Hockey Weekend Across America, forget Hockey Day in Canada, how about Original Six Saturday? One day every year when all six teams play each other. Chicago/Detroit was awesome today, Rangers/Habs was great but Toronto and Boston both had the day off. Have just three games on a Saturday, play them in a row, heck, maybe play one outdoors. These games are always special and should be treated as such.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Marian Gaborik - one goal and two assists.
2-Brandon Dubinsky - two goals and one assist.
1-Ryan Callahan - two goals and two assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Wade Redden - Yes, I made Redden a star. The guy got into a fight, how could I not? And it was a good fight, both in its cause and result. Looking back on this game down the road, it won't be the game where Gabby broke a slump or where Dubi and Cally were outstanding, it will be the game when Wade Redden fought.
2-Hank - Sure he made just 18 saves but most were big ones. The goals against weren't his fault and he didn't allow a single softie to get the Habs back in the game.
1-Dubi/Cally - Like I said, they were outstanding. Both have worked hard all season long but tonight all of the pieces came together. A lot of that is due to Gabby regaining his touch and Montreal's moronic defense (Martin is a terrible coach) but it is nice to give props to the young cornerstones of the organization.