Wednesday, January 20, 2010
24-19-7: In A Word? Domination!
Unlike last week's game against Ottawa, there was no letdown after a strong Ranger effort as they followed up the 6-2 win over Montreal with a 8-2 demolition of the Tampa Bay Lightning that wasn't nearly as close as the score shows.
The Rangers kept playing the same style with the same energy as they did on Sunday while the Bolts were bad. Very, very, very bad. Not just bad as in tired from playing on Monday night but bad as in woeful. On one side you want to say that the Rangers made them look like a minor league team and on the other, they really played like a minor league team. Tampa was terrible and the Rangers could have easily struck for a dozen goals or more. Instead, there was the usual assortment of posts and easy rebounds not banged in. But we come here today not to bury the Bolts but to praise the Blueshirts.
And there is enough praise to go around as 16 players recorded points (thanks Gregger for the stat). No one was woeful. No one needs to be called out on the carpet. Even the pointless Anisimov deserves reprieve - but only because I feel like being nice.
I'm not going to break down the game goal by goal ... and can't really considering it was a Versus game so there is no Rangers in 60 (Booooo) but there are still some things to be said:
*It was great seeing Gabby and Vinny break out for some points finally but, let's face it, that is what they are paid to do and the Lightning didn't make it too difficult. **Spoiler Alert** Neither of them will make my stars because of it. They are skilled players, they are supposed to be able to eat up teams like Tampa when teams like Tampa are this terrible.
*I mentioned during the third period that if someone said to me a month ago that Aaron Voros' name would be chanted in MSG, I would have died laughing. My friend Joe said, 'a month ago? try a week!' And the Garden crowd was really chanting Voros' name after another great effort by the big man. He fought that the NHL's PIM leader Zenon Konopka and didn't do too badly - he lost, but didn't do too badly (as he did in the Malone fight later on). Voros then goaded Konopka into taking 12 more minutes in the box by turning him down for a rematch ... and then scored on the ensuing power play! Wow. That is like superstar stuff. Jarome Iginla or something. Freaking wow.
*It is kind of funny that Tampa tried to intimidate the Rangers off the bat by sending Konopka out on the ice seeing as all it did was ensure the Blueshirts were awake and into the game. Without the fisticuffs off the bat, do the Rangers get off to as good a start? I'm not sure. I mean, they would still have won seeing how bad Tampa was but it may not have been such a dominating performance.
*Hello, Donald Brashear? Your services are no longer required here. Not like you still had those services to provide, and we didn't want you in the first place, but like the dinosaur, you are now extinct.
*Of course, going into Philly on Thursday, does Tortorella plug Brash back in to the lineup? I wouldn't put it past him and could hardly blame him because you certainly don't want to see Dubi throw down the gloves again should any of their thugs do anything. Lappy, Cote, Carcillo, Pronger ... all tougher opponents than Jeff Halpern, who had his first fight since March of 2007.
*Tortorella, finally, deserves some credit. After a solid game, the 'fourth' line of Voros-Boyle-Avery (which was more of a third line considering how useless Arty is) was rewarded for their work. As I mentioned Voros got Konopka to take the penalty by turning down his invitation to dance and Torts put him and his linemates back on for the ensuing power play. I turned to my buddy Mike and said, 'wouldn't it be great if they scored to boot?' And less than 10 seconds later Voros banged in the puck to make it a 7-2 game. Now that is justifying the coach's faith.
*The refs continued to grind their axes for poor Sean Avery, and Avery turned that frustration to his benefit by standing at the end of the bench jabbering away with Bugsy Malone and Downie Syndrome. Malone should be better than that but Downie is young and dumb so it was fully expected from him. I'm just a little surprised that Downie didn't chase Avery down and instigate a fight.
*Even the third member of the unit, big Brian Boyle wasn't bad. Notice I didn;t call him Susan as he has toughened up his play of late. It is still pretty ugly - but it is working. He had some chances tonight and, if he keeps playing like this, he will pot a few more pucks before the end of the season.
*Chris Higgins scored! Enver Lisin scored! Dan Girardi scored! Marc Staal scored! I just ... wow. Words can't express how impressed I am and how much I hope this boosts the confidence of the team going into a tough stretch - in Philly where the Flyers are desperate to turn things around, in Montreal where the Habs will be out for revenge and home against Pittsburgh. Crosby scored six points tonight against the Isles. Six!
*And this performance is why the Rangers don't need Vinny Lecavalier. Lecavalier did nothing, zilch, zero, nada to help his team turn around their luck. He had the goal early on but completely became a nonfactor. It is hard to say whether or not he was unable or unwilling to spark them but he didn't do anything. Midget St. Louis did more, Malone did more, Seen Stamkos did more ... Vinny04 was nowhere to be found. The Rangers could use another game-breaker, not another over-paid veteran working on the fringe.
*Speaking of such, Redden and Rozsival were acceptable. That is about it - acceptable, I'm being happy and nice today, remember? Basking in the glow of the second straight convincing Ranger win. Sure Staal, Girardi and MDZ are all better and more important defenders but the albatrosses didn't do anything to take the wind out of the team's sails tonight. Not even the Rozy penalty ...
*It is a good sign that the one thing I was upset most over this evening didn't even happen during the game. The Rangers held an alumni forum for season ticket holders with Pete Stemkowski, Steve Vickers and Ron Duguay prior to the game. There was no beer. I was not pleased.
*There was an idiot in the 200 level wearing a Tampa jersey who kept standing up to provoke the crowd and later revealed a Devils t-shirt under his Lightning sweater. He was serenaded with 'Asshole' chants but how the guy made it though the entire game without getting his ass kicked surprised me and certainly speaks to the more genteel Garden of today. Sad.
*As mentioned, superstition dictated that I wear my Rozy jersey again for this game. And I did. And we won. And it will be back Monday night. Dammit.
*I'm sure there is more but I have a insanely busy seven days starting so I am gonna crash. No guarantees of a Peepin' Foes for any of the next three games but I will try. I will be in Philly for the Flyer game Thursday so if I don't end up in jail, I will have a wrap sometime after that. No Rozy jersey down there, the superstition only holds for home games (I hope).
*PHW Three Stars
3-Brandon Dubinsky - one goal and one assist.
2-Vinny Prospal - one goal and one assist.
1-Marian Gaborik - four assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Smithtown - Higgins' hard work finally paid off with a goal and an assist. Let's hope it is the start of something good.
2-Dubi - Gordie Howe hat tricks are awesome.
1-Voros - All out effort all night with smart play and grit earned him that ovation. Bravo sir, bravo.
>>Psst, someone look outside and tell me if you see flying pigs ...