Tuesday, February 2, 2010
25-25-7: My Kingdom For A Goal
There are a lot of ways to look at the Ranger 2-1 loss to Los Angeles tonight. You could say they played a tight road game against a red-hot young team and only lost by a goal. You could say that the power play cost the Rangers the victory. You can say that the Rangers picked up their game and got great chances late but couldn't solve an Olympic goaltender in Jonathan Quick. You could say the Rangers made two bad mistakes and they ended up behind their Olympic goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. You can say that the pucks didn't bounce the Ranger way as they hit the post twice and got a puck through Quick that didn't go in. You could say that a loss is a loss and the Rangers lost.
You can say all of those things and you would be completely right on all counts. But the simple statement is Rangers 2, Kings 1. And that is what matters. The Blueshirts went 1-2 on the three game western swing and will come back to the Garden to face Washington and New Jersey later this week. This is not an easy stretch but with the playoff race being what it is, if the Rangers can keep treading water with occasional wins until they get their ship together it will be enough to keep them in the hunt. Notes for now:
*I've mentioned it here before, Christensen should not have been removed from Gabby's side when Prospal returned. The two have chemistry, which seems to be a dirty word to john Tortorella but in actuality something good for a hockey team. What a sexy goal by the two of them. And Cally came oh-so-close to redirecting in that Prospal feed that it makes you wonder how these lines should be fleshed out.
*Olli Jokinen had the first shot of the game with a shot late in the first period. Sure it was just a low shot but 1- it wasn't right into Quick's glove and 2- Jokinen followed it to the net. Too often this season Rangers are lettin' 'em fly and going for a change or pulling up and waiting for teammates. Throughout the night he went to the boards, tried to fight through traffic and seemed more than willing to let it fly so let's hope this is the start of something good.
*Everyone has been focusing on Jokinen's magnificent biker mustache but anyone notice his eyes? All I could think about was the line from Jaws, "Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living." They were kinda creepy but hey, if it works for him ....
*Here is a question for the Meigrey folks out there - did Jokinen get a new jersey or just a Kotalik with a new nameplate sewed on top?
*Joe Micheletti is a tool. Saying the Rangers are skating well after they were pinned in their own zone for four minutes is just dumb. Talking about the good, young Kings defense while the truck is airing a highlight from 38 year old Sean O'Donnell also isn't good television. His continual apologizing for Redden and Rozy is just shameless PR to boot. I mean, most people forget that the TV announcers are not real journalists but team employees and the constant positive spin for these colossal failures is just ridiculous. Who are you trying to fool? Not a single word as how Rozy stood frozen while Brown passed the puck right through him to Smythe for the second Kings goal.
*Playing the part of incompetent fourth liner who makes a mistake on the power play that results in a shorthanded goal? Chris Drury, aka the worst Ranger captain ever. And, going back to the whole MSG as a extension of the team's public relations, Ron Duguay hangs the mistake on the new guy Jokinen instead of the captain. If Drury wasn't holding onto the boards to stay on his skates far away from the action, the Kings wouldn't have had the width of the ice to pick off the pass. And later, with the game hinging on an offensive zone faceoff with seconds left, Drury couldn't get the puck - instead he stood there tying up his opposition and praying someone else comes in. You had to know this was coming: Blair Betts > Chris Drury.
*I watch a significant amount of hockey and it appears to me that the Rangers, more than most other teams, rely upon dumping and chasing to gain the zone on a power play. It doesn't work when they can't regain possession. And it definitely doesn't work if Chris Drury is a part of it.
*Not to disparage the MSG guys, but missing the first fight of Brandon Prust's Ranger career sucked. I understand that they want to get into the replay as quickly as possible so they can get the analysis in before the puck is dropped again but damn, it was a bang-bang kinda thing and all of a sudden we see the guys falling to the ice. Even with the replay, we didn't see what led to Prust throwing down the gloves - the bad angle replay cut in with him spinning in the zone and going over to the guy.
*On Prust, I have already heard one comparison to Ryan Hollweg after this performance. I think it is mistaken, and I think Prust showed why in the third period with smart, good play and a good scoring chance.
*Not Rangers but Dion Phaneuf also fought in his first game with his new team tonight and Dion, who many of us would have loved to have in NY, fought and kept his helmet (and visor) on while fighting. Classless. Also in that Leafs' game, Freddie Sjostrom was the third star after getting the primary assist on the game winner. Miss you Sjo.
*Talking with friend of the blog Andrea, we decided it would be utterly incredible if Sean Avery had "BITE ME" written on the front of his mouth guard. Of course, you would rarely see it as he has his mouth open yapping so often, but it would be hilarious nonetheless. MSG caught Sean yapping at fans coming off the ice after the first period and with Kings after most every whistle. Love that guy.
*If Michael Del Zotto can develop as quickly and as well as Drew Doughty, we will have one helluva defenseman on our hands. He continues to make amazing long-distance passes and shows a willingness to hit, we just have to get the rest of his game together.
*Totally random but do you think that James Patrick cursed the number three when he was dumped by the Rangers? Since him Stan Neckar, Kim Johnsson, Tom Poti and Michal Rozsival all wore it. Ok, so Johnsson wasn't terrible but he was dealt for the concussed, clueless Eric Lindros so it's still a loss.
*Funny how during his second intermission interview Brian Boyle pointed out that it was sad saying goodbye to Chris Higgins, oh yeah, and Kotes too, but really Higgins. Ha. Guess Kotalik didn't make many friends on the team ...
*Ranger fans are great - anyone else catch the Potvin Sucks whistle midway through the third period? It may be a nuisance at the Garden every game, multiple times per game, but once, loudly, in an away arena? Awesome.
*Last game I mocked the third jerseys of the Avalanche but I only have praise for the Kings. Throwback black-white-silver colour scheme and clean, simple design. That's a nice sweater.
*Jack Johnson will be playing on Team USA in Vancouver but after watching this one, you just have to question why? I don't know about you guys but I was completely unimpressed. I thought that his teammate and fellow American Matt Greene was far better in this one.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 19 saves.
2-Jon Quick - 20 saves.
1-Anze Kopitar - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Wayne Simmonds - I initially wanted to give this start to Kopitar but you expect the young superstar to have the speed and hands he showed. And Anze beat Hank gloveside, which we know is no big accomplishment. But Simmonds really impressed me with smart, responsible play on both sides of the ice.
2-O'Donnell - The old guy is exactly what the Rangers need: a steady, physical, crease-clearing defenseman. Exactly what Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival (and Hobey Gilroy and Dan Girardi of late) are not.
1-Quick - As Andrea said to me, USA would be better suited going with Quick right now instead of Tim Thomas. Of course, neither one will start over Ryan Miller but Quick is certainly making his case for it; the kid is good.