Regular readers know that I am not easily sold on Ranger success and ... well, I'm still not. The Rangers annihilated a terrible Tampa team Friday night 5-0. Was it fun to watch? Absolutely. Was it any indication of actual skill or talent? Only the lack thereof on the Lightning squad. The Bolts were astoundingly awful all over the ice.
The only way they could have performed worse was if they still had Marek Malik in their lineup and he pulled one of these. It is a damn shame that they don't still have our old friend because it would have been hilarious. Several members of the Lightning did their best imitations on this evening but ya just can't beat the real thing.
Credit must be given and the Rangers did beat the Bolts. They put the puck on the net, on one side of the ice and the goaltender didn't allow a single soft goal on the other. But at the same time, you have to realize that the Blueshirts are pulling the blinders down over our eyes, beating up bad teams ahead of the inevitable, heart-crushing fall, don't you?
*Zenon Konopka won eight of nine faceoffs that he took for Tampa but he failed when it counted most - he didn't find a dance partner to try to energize his teammates. The NHL leader in PIM didn't spend a second in the penalty box and ended up a -3.
*Meanwhile, Jody Shelley was a powerhouse for the Rangers. Yes, a powerhouse. And he took a bad penalty. Shelley made the monstrous Vladmir Mihalik (6'7, 222) look stupid on the opening goal, making room for Brandon Prust to crash the crease. He hammered the defenseman, snapping his stick on the collision, then he went to the net and curled out, drawing the still-steaming Mihalik away from the slot so Prust could skate in freely.
*And poor Mihalik had Vinny Prospal's pass attempt hit his skate and go past Mike Smith eight minutes later to make it a 3-0 game. Poor monster couldn't get a break.
*The Ranger scoring came from all over the lineup, as displayed by 16 players grabbing +1s on the night. The other two, MDZ and Rozy, were +2. A balanced attack? On the Rangers? Whaaaaa???
*Seen Stamkos? He was one of the Bolts who looked so bad on the second period 5-on-3. It looked like the roles were reversed out there with Tampa playing the Ranger part of staying on the outside without getting any good shots off.
*Congrats to Anders Eriksson on his first point as a Ranger, a second assist on the
*Steve Downie Syndrome deserves some accolades for coming back to the ice after a scary play in the first period. Downie got tangled up with Dan Girardi and took his own stick to the chest; scary. But he is a hockey player and he came back. Good man. Also nice to see Ranger trainer Jim Ramsey on the ice to help Downie - classy dude.
*I watched the game at the Flying Puck in the city. It is a half-hearted attempt at a hockey bar a block from the Garden. They have a hockey motif, they have hockey on tv but don't put the audio up on the broadcasts as a matter of practice. What the hell? And there was all of four people in the bar really watching the game, which is pathetic. If there were drink specials, some advertising, I donno, something the place could have packed 'em in on a Friday night for a important game for the Blueshirts...
*There is certainly more worth mentioning but little time as the Rangers are in action again Saturday night against Florida. Seeing as the Panthers have real goaltending and several players who step up against the Blueshirts (Weiss, Horton), it should be a interesting test. If the Rangers pull it out, they tie Philly ... simply amazing/sad.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 30 saves.
2-Vinny Prospal - one goal.
1-Dan Girardi - one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Marc Staal - Sure Mike Smith swung and missed Staalsie's shot from the wing but he
2-Prust - Hidden behind that glass grabbing goon exterior there may just be a real hockey player in there. Perhaps he can channel that more often going forward.
1-Hank - No softies!!