Sunday, January 31, 2010
24-24-7: Professional Heartbreakers
Gonna make this pretty quick as the Rangers hit the ice again tonight at 8 p.m. against the Colorado Avalanche (MSG). The Rangers spent Saturday night being the professional heartbreakers they are. Sorry puck bunnies, I mean it in the manner how they torture their fans on ice. The Blueshirts came out flat, got behind big and, just when you thought they had rolled over and died, decided to play some hockey to climb back into the game. And, of course, they just didn't have enough to tie it up, falling 3-2 to Phoenix.
When the team flicks the switch like they did, you can clearly see the problem with the team's leadership - they are capable of playing pretty well, they just don't. After claiming that hitting the road would be best for the team, they hit the road and were roadkill the first period, allowing three bad goals. They didn't entirely suck in the second period as Chad NueveSies got his legs under him and then most everyone turned on the hockey in the third period to pot two goals and come within a post of tying the game. But what can you do? That's the Rangers.
*Nothing like Michal Rozsival taking a bad penalty right when the Rangers are pressing the hardest. Wade Redden may be a clueless wuss, but at least he isn't an idiot. Well, not a total one at least. Rozy had a hat trick of stupid penalties and should feel much shame. He should also be banished back to the Czech Republic. But, seeing as Torts' "accountability," is sure to stay in the lineup.
*On the penalty note, the Blueshirts gave the Coyotes seven power plays. Seven. Sure Gabby's 'boarding' was borderline but the overall lack of discipline is just unforgivable. And it came simply because the team was outskated and outworked by the younger, faster Coyotes.
*Pressed into action at the last second, all credit given and due to young Chad NueveSies. He was under siege as the team broke down in front of him in the first period and couldn't be faulted for at least two of the three goals against. Once he got his act together, he gave the team a chance to get back into the game.
*And they did with two great goals. Erik Christensen, who I said should not have been split from Gabby when Prospal returned, was back riding shotgun with the Slovak and the two scored on a tic-tac-toe 2-on-1. That goal set up Sean Avery's as he broke in with Chris Higgins on a 2-on-1 and the last play had LaBarbara thinking pass. We, as Ranger fans, know that there is no one in their right mind who would pass to Chris Higgins nowadays but LaBarbara didn't realize that and gave Avery room to shoot.
*I watched the Coyotes broadcast so I got to see the Teppo Numminen ceremony pregame. For those of you watching on MSG+, it wasn't anything too special but it was nice to see the former Jet get his due. Dave Strader, by the way, is a fantastic play-by-play announcer. He was a joy to listen to, even if his partner Tyson Nash wasn't.
*As I tweeted, the FSN cameras caught Muhammad Ali in the crowd and he looked like he was enjoying himself, which I think is just fantastic. Ali's body may be gone but his mind is still there and he found joy in hockey. That's just great.
*Chris Drury? Not great. Worst captain ever. He has all of three power play assists and no goals this season and yet Tortorella is using him on the point. He had what, three shots blocked in a row before losing the puck? And his stupid penalty earlier? He may be one helluva guy in the room but he is a disaster on the ice. Perhaps it is time to give the C to a youngster, like Staal? It has worked for his brother ...
*Aaron Voros has been one of the hardest working Rangers on the ice during this recent slide, so why did he barely play?
*Kind of appropriate that rookie Finn Sami Lepisto scores his first goal on a night when the greatest Finnish defenseman probably of all-time gets honoured (some credit given to Kimmo Timonen, but not much).
*PHW Three Stars
3-Vernon Fiddler - two assists.
2-Martin Hanzal - no points.
1-Sami Lepisto - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Ryan Callahan - It is amazing to watch all of his hard work and effort sucked into the void that is Chris Drury but that doesn't stop him from skating his ass off.
2-Petr Prucha - When the Rangers were trying to get their game together, who was there to lay down a hit? Petr Prucha. Who forechecked, backchecked and showed the kind of relentlessness that garnered so many fans in New York? Petr Prucha.
1-Fiddler - This guy is one of the underrated talents in the NHL. He plays smart, solid two-way hockey. Moving from Nashville has added some offense but it hasn't cost him his defensive prowess.