Tuesday, January 26, 2010
24-22-7: At Least We Got Two Goals, Right?
The Rangers pulled out one of their classic scripts on Monday night - get a lead, get a penalty, fall apart - as they fell to Pittsburgh 4-2 at the Garden. It always hurts losing to Cindy and company but the Blueshirts manage to do it in spectacular fashion time after time after time. Luckily this one wasn't on a hat trick like the last two matchups, although Chris Conner (who?) came quite close. But yet again a Ranger rally is subverted by their own stupidity and incompetence.
New York opened with a dreadful effort through the first period but escaped the frame only trailing 1-0. They battled back with two goals to take the lead but a terrible Marian Gaborik penalty opened the door for the Penguins and they waddled through. Two quick goals later, the Rangers were back behind the eight ball and rolled over. After the match Mr. X from the Blue Seats pulled out one of his favourite sayings, "they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory yet again."
Notes (I have to come up with a better gimmick than just 'Notes' - that's boring - how about My True Blue Views? Spilled Beer? Ice Chips? Feel free to chime in in the comments):
*Do you think John Tortorella plays 'duck, duck, goose' to come up with his line pairings? Just a thought.
*When your team is struggling to put together wins, you want them to play simple, straight-forward hockey. In the third period Brandon Dubinsky made a blind drop pass to no one that started a Pittsburgh rush. He looked to the sky upset and seemingly in shock but that is what he gets for being cute. Too often the so-called talented players are being too cute with the puck.
*It must be noted that Torts gave the Rangers Sunday off without practice while the Penguins played and won a tough 2-1 game against the Flyers. And yet the Rangers were the ones who looked tired, slow and sloppy on the ice ...
*In trying to think of good things coming out of this loss, I came up with two: the Rangers scored two more goals than they did in their last two games and I never have to wear that damned Rozsival jersey ever again. What happened to the player who was so good late in that Blues game? Does he have to get hammered by a big check to wake up for a little while? If that is the case, I know several people more than willing to hit him ...
*Hank shouldn't have let the go-ahead goal in but, let's face it, he was under siege all night. The guy has to feel like the folks in the Alamo at this point. He is surrounded and alone, taking shot after shot after shot. It used to be that a 2.32 gaa was pretty damned good but on these Rangers, it is about 2.32 too high.
*Marc-Andre Fleury had missed the last five games with a finger injury, so you would think the Rangers would want to crash his net and make it difficult for him to get any rhythm in his return. You would think that, right? Apparently the Rangers didn't.
*Hey, Fleury made that one glove save look awfully impressive, didn't he? Classic Ricky Henderson over-embellishment and now we will be stuck with seeing that damned 'highlight' in Versus melts for months to come. (Thanks to Sergeant Bob for the ballplayer comparison.)
*Speaking of 'highlights,' Donald Brashear had a board-rattling hit. Of course, it was meaningless and certainly did nothing to erase the gaffe that led to the first goal against but, hey, he got some applause (not from me). When your team is struggling to score goals, well, you want to add Brashear to the lineup instead of Erik Christensen, the guy who put up points when Prospal went out. That's smart coaching, right? Eric Godard, by the way, played less than a minute, Brash played more than five and yet Godard got a shot on net, Brash did not. So much for adding offense.
*Prospal, by the way, has been virtually useless since returning from said injury. Maybe he rushed back too fast, maybe the Olympic break will help him get his game in order, who knows? Whatever it is, he is a shadow of the player he was before he went down and this team needs him to be a top line talent.
*It is hard to say that Chris Drury is the shadow of a player he was at any time during his Ranger career as he was never particularly good but he has been outright terrible of late and Torts rewarded him with a ton of ice time and point on the power play. He can't win a big faceoff if his life depended on it right now and I just hope that some kind of mysterious 'injury' pops up so he has to beg off from Team USA so he doesn't embarrass himself (and the team) on an international level. As I've said before, he will go down as the worst captain in Ranger history.
*Almost six minutes straight of power play time and the Rangers managed what, three shots? Is Perry Pearn still on the payroll? It was tough watching them struggle to get over the blueline and then panic with the puck once they did but they didn't allow any shorthanded goals so at least they had that going for them.
*Just as I asked anyone listening in Section 329 if they thought that Torts threw Anisimov on the first line as a F-you to Larry Brooks, Arty scored. I think that, and his second goal on the jam-in, were the ultimate F-you to Brooksie. But now it will take several more performances like tonight to truly prove Brooks (and I) wrong that Arty needs time in Hartford.
*Torts made a colossal mistake taking Avery away from Boyle and Voros and sliding him alongside Dru and Cally. Not even Avery could spark the two slumping Olympic-bound players and, in taking him away, Torts broke up a solid unit that was the Blueshirts best of late. The thought has to be that Sean would get more and better chances with more and better linemates but, let's face it, Boyle and Voros have been playing at a higher level of hockey than Dru and Cally the last three games (but I must admit that Cally's defensive play to stop the third period shorty breakaway was pretty great).
*Speaking of slumps, it is quite sad when Enver Lisin is getting better scoring opportunities than Marian Gaborik. Sure Lisin isn't covered as tightly, but since when has that been a problem for Gabby?
*For those of you calling foul time and time again when Avery got bumped, punched, slashed, whatever throughout the game, did you really think that the officiating would do him any favours on a national broadcast against darling Cindy? Really?
*Loved seeing Cindy skating down the ice in the third period with his arm around the ref's waist begging for a call. Some things never change; water's wet, the sky is blue and Cindy is a crybaby.
*I don't know if anyone else did but I booed Dan Girardi every time he touched the puck in the first period. My point was made, and he admittedly got better as the night went on. He can be so solid and so important to this team but to see him stand by when teammates are getting creamed can not be tolerated and can not be forgotten.
*Marc Staal had a small stretch in the game where he was the best player on the ice. He jumped into an attack at the right time, he made a big stop and had back-to-back big checks.
*Chris Higgins keeps on trying; too bad he can't convert that to scoring. But he did do some nice penalty killing work tonight.
*I'm not sure if it is the state of the team of the state of the economy that caused it but the Garden was not close to capacity yet again. It is especially sad when you consider household name Crosby was playing and many people not being able to watch at home as it was exclusively on Versus. And, to boot, many season ticket holders clearly dealt their tickets away to Penguin fans as there was a huge contingent of bandwagon fans in the house.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Sidney Crosby - two assists.
2-Artem Anisimov - two goals.
1-Chris Conner - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Pascal Dupuis - Ol' Eyebrows himself was strong on the Pittsburgh penalty kill, started the rush that got the Pens the go-ahead goal and potted an empty netter. It is amazing how well he plays in MSG when he isn't wearing a Ranger jersey.
2-Conner - Who?
1-Sergei Gonchar - I am definitely loathe to give him too much credit but he is among the elite blueliners in the NHL and is everything that Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival are not. Like them he isn't particularly physical but he makes really smart plays with and without the puck.