Monday, March 8, 2010
29-28-9: One Is Better Than None, Again
For the second-straight Garden game the Rangers grabbed a point they did not deserve, losing 2-1 in overtime to the Buffalo Sabres Sunday night. After Thursday's wild 5-4 OT loss to the Pens, they lost 2-0 Saturday night on the road in Washington. It was a game where the coach called out the team for a lackluster effort. Well, they followed it up with ... you guessed it, another lackluster effort. But this one was mildly better. Mildly.
They, like the Sabres, seemingly spent two periods skating off hangovers from Saturday night. The Blueshirts woke up in the third but allowed Buffalo to get the lead. They miraculously managed to force overtime but - of course - blew it in the extra frame. On a night where Boston and Atlanta both lost, getting a point was big but two would have been huge. Oh well. Playoff invoices are in the mail for season ticket holders but remember, you can put that money towards next year.
*In overtime of the gold medal game, Sidney Crosby took advantage of a fortuitous play to pot a simple shot past Ryan Miller. In overtime of this game Ryan Callahan created his own luck with a dynamic play down the ice to get Chris Drury an open look at an empty net vacated by Miller but, alas, Drury is no Crosby and couldn't come through as a hero. It was the second time in the game that Dru blew a chance down low and he is beginning to show that his impressive Olympic performance and the carry over in Ottawa was an aberration.
*Although better an aberration than an abomination, which is what the Ranger defense is. The lack of a physical blueline has haunted the team for years and it never ceases to hurt the team. You would think that the powers that be would realize that (more on them in a bit). Matt Gilroy had four, count 'em, four chances to knock the puck away from the Sabres on the first goal of the game and couldn't do it. Playing the Marek Malik/Michal Rozsival school of defense - swing your stick at them, maybe they will catch a cold, sneeze and lose the puck - Hobey didn't play the body a single time and Buffalo put it on net, where Adam Mair was able to bang it home.
*The game-winner was much the same, with two Rangers standing around while that head-hunting clown Patrick Kaleta got two swipes at the puck, banging it past Hank on the the second - one he wouldn't have had if he was knocked on his ass.
*Of course, no one seemed to take exception to Kaleta's over-the-top celebration across the Ranger logo at center ice, showing these Rangers have no pride in addition to no toughness. George Teague was suspended for a week for hitting Terrell Owens as he celebrated on the Cowboys' star but a message was sent around the NFL that no one disrespects the franchise.
*There is no disrespect intended for the organizers of the Fire Sather rally but it did not turn out particularly well. Sure, all the Ranger beat writers came out to witness it, but they ended up having a good laugh at the 75 or so fans in the pen across from the Garden. As someone said walking past me, 'if this was the 70s, there would have been thousands of fans here.' And he was probably right because in the 70s the fanbase was more hardcore and more organized. Now the hardcore have been priced out, the fan club is a shadow of itself and grassroot internet campaigns can't sway people away from their pre-game routines. Sad.
*It is sad that the Rangers haven't learned that going to the net is a good thing. You would think that they would realize that on the few occasions they have paid the price to get into the trenches, it has turned into goals. After spending most of the game thinking that open shots from the middle of the circles could somehow beat the Silver Medal-winning goaltender, Brandon Dubinsky took a few hits and banged home the equalizer on a late power play. Adam Graves is constantly around the team nowadays, how has that not rubbed off on these guys?
*It is upsetting that the Rangers lost this game but we really do have to be thankful to escape with a point. When the fourth line is more effective than the first line, well, defeat is usually inevitable. Brandon Prust and Jody Shelley were great yet again and if they were playing alongside a center with any kind of hands all night long, they would have netted a goal. Torts seemed to come to that conclusion as well, putting Prust with Dubi late in regulation but it was too late by then. I would love to see Brian Boyle bounced from the lineup for a night and Brodie Dupont given a shot.
*Arty Anisimov has been given a shot on the power play, perhaps by default as Tortorella grasps as straws. Arty had a great chance too when Mair was in the box but he was looking away from the play and had his stick in the air when the puck came across the ice. As has been written in this space before, Arty needs more seasoning and more muscle - he is not capable of top flight play yet.
*Sean Avery had a very good Sean Avery game. He bumped Miller a few times, clearly distracting him and almost had a goal - but sadly his shot rang off the iron.
*There were a decent number of Buffalo fans in the Garden and they were a loud, cocky bunch after their team scored each of their goals. It is remarkable how arrogant they are as a fanbase when their franchise has won zero Stanley Cups in 39 seasons, lost in the Finals twice and missed the playoffs the last two years.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 30 saves.
2-Ryan Miller - 35 saves.
1-Patrick Kaleta - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cally - The Pinball simply doesn't take a shift off.
2-Hank - You have to wonder when he will have his agent start making demands of Sather to either get him some help or to trade him away. Hank is wasting some great years on a team that's on the road to nowhere.
1-Kaleta - As with guys like Jamie Langenbrunner, you have to respect that he steps up his play against the Rangers. You certainly don't have to like it, but you have to respect it. Hey, I'd whoop it up at center ice at the Mausoleum if I scored on them.