Monday, February 1, 2010
25-24-7: The Roller Coaster Ride Continues
No matter what happened in Sunday's Ranger game against Colorado, you knew the result would be a good one when they mentioned that Ales Kotalik would not be a Ranger for much longer. Now the details of Kotalik's departure are up for debate just past midnight EST but anything that rids us of him would be nice.
When the initial report was revealed, I was asked where did I think he would go and said "hopefully to hell for wasting my season ticket money" and I was close - Calgary ... if reports prove true. They are just reports so I won't waste this entire post on speculation but I will say that Torts saw a lot of Jokinen when Ollie was in Florida and he was in Tampa and I enjoy watching Brandon Prust, who is a stronger, tougher, better skating version of @Voros34. Having both of them on the roster would certainly address team toughness and ensure that no one jumps Gabby ever again. Losing Chris 'At Least He's Trying' Higgins would hurt but let's face it, Smithtown hasn't had a good homecoming. The salaries would pretty much wash, with the Rangers getting more space as Prust's presence would essentially usher Brashear off of Broadway. Hey, we can all dream, can't we?
As for the Sunday night game, that was a bit of a dream come true. The Rangers carried the momentum from Saturday's third period into the game against the Avalanche and never stopped skating on their way to a 3-1 win. All too often this season (and in years past), they have been outworked by younger, hungrier teams and on this night they kept the wheels spinning all night long. It was delightful. I mean, seriously, a Ranger gets a hat trick, the goaltender doesn't let up any soft goals and the team holds strong in the face of obscene officiating. Completely unreal, completely enjoyable. Since there is no telling when the Ranger train will be grabbed by gravity again, let's enjoy it while we can.
Another night where I don't have much time so some notes, starting with some questions:
*Was it me or did the National Anthem singer Jake Schroeder look an awful lot like Mats Sundin?
*How is it that half the teams in the NHL have problems with Stephane Auger's officiating and yet he still has a job?
*Did a toddler design the Aves' third jersey? It seems that way; a little kid picked crayons close to the actual Colorado colours and scribbled that half-assed, rip-off design.
*Has there been a single Ranger game this season where they didn't hit the post at least once?
*What is wrong with Michal Rozsival? Ok, that's enough for the questions because now I am just getting ridiculous. Rozy was the worst Ranger on the ice and put on a clinic of how not to play defense. When you are on all fours with the puck under you, you aren't supposed to hand pass it back through your own legs towards your own net with an opposing player standing right there waiting for the puck. Common sense, right? Guess not.
*The other half of the R&R albatross around the Ranger neck, Wade Redden, actually wasn't horrible. I even caught him laying a hit down on an Av (either Cody McLeod or Scott Hannon). Amazing! Now if he can only get Hobey Gilroy to start being a little physical as well ...
*Of all of the blueliners, Marc Staal played like it was his task to defend the rookie goaltender and keep the puck out of the net. This was probably his best performance of the season.
*Gabby was pretty hot too, which coincided with Vinny Prospal rediscovering part of his game. The feed to his Slovak friend on the second goal from the endboards to the slot was perfectly practiced precision. Gorgeous. And a Ranger getting a hat trick? I mean, wow. Ahem, I mean, that's what you're paid for Braden! Gotta retain some composure here, especially seeing as everything can fall apart on Tuesday.
*So, coming back to earth, the Ranger penalty kill went 6-6! Yay! The Ranger power play went 0-6. Boo. It blew almost two full minutes of 5-on-3 play at the top of the first period before a bad penalty negated the end of it. Double boo.
*Didn't MSG mention that Chris Drury was being demoted to a lower line? Funny but I saw him out on the ice seemingly every other shift. He was on both special teams, killing penalties pretty well (win a damn faceoff idiot) and being his usual pathetic self on the power play point. Drury had motivation to play better facing his old franchise, he just didn't.
*There was a funny moment when Dru pried Adam Foote off another Ranger in a post-whistle scrum where the captain actually seemed to be smiling. Drury! I know! I guess it was just a chuckle at his old buddy Foote's expense or something. Foote remains the epitome of old time hockey, which just seems dirty and crass compared to the current state of the game. For better or worse.
*@Voros34 took on McLeod in one helluva tilt and stayed in there despite taking one heckuva punch. That fight came at 11:01 of the first period; Gabby's first goal came at 13:53. Coincidence? I'm not so sure.
*At one point, Higgins and Drury had a two-on-one break down the ice on the Avalanche goal, with Higgins getting turned away by Anderson. I am not sure which is more striking, that Smithtown had confidence that his shot could go in while he was being pretty tightly marked or that he didn't have confidence in Dru shooting on a mostly empty net.
*Darcy Tucker is a shadow of the player he used to be. Such a shame not to see Avery kick his ass again.
*Paul Stastny really looks like his dad. If he keeps maturing and turns into half the hockey player the old man was, the Aves will be one lucky team.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Vaclav Prospal - two assists.
2-Chad Johnson - 34 saves.
1-Marian Gaborik - three goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Johnson - Hank skated over to DosNueve after the final buzzer and handed him the game-puck from his first career win. It was well deserved as the kid maintained his composure all night long. He played big, didn't overcommit and didn't allow any bad goals. Hopefully he can keep it up and settle the murmuring asking for a veteran backup.
2-Staal - Johnson was good but looked even better because of the efforts of Staal. As I said, Marc played his best game of the season and was the defensive pillar that we have been hoping he would turn into.
1-Gabby - He's good. Really, really good. If he can cut out the sloppy stickwork, which keeps leading to penalties, he might even be great.