Saturday, April 10, 2010
38-33-10: One Down, One To Go
It is difficult not to fall prey to hyperbole after the hockey played at MSG on Friday night but you know what? I am not even going to try. The 4-3 Ranger win over the Flyers was the most exciting game the Blueshirts have played this season and perhaps the most exciting regular season game in years.
It had it all - goals by stars, goals by unlikely sources, astounding saves, tough physical play ... edge-of-your-seat, end-to-end action most of the night. And all of it was witnessed by a deafeningly-loud, sellout crowd that reveled in the moment.
What a night.
Should things not go the Ranger way on Sunday, not that I want to think of that now but should they not, it is pretty great that the Rangers left the Garden on a high note - especially after all of the troubles that the team has had on home ice this season. The rhetorical question must be asked: if the Rangers had this kind of effort in them, why did it take 80 games for it to show up?
Ok, ok, I'll stop the cynicism for a few to enjoy this one a little bit longer.
*Is there anything like seeing Steven McDonald? That man gives a great pep talk and it is an honour to have him in the building year after year. And congrats to Ryan Callahan for winning the Extra Effort award. Well deserved.
*Lost in the celebrations was Callahan's early exit. It came courtesy of Chris Pronger, who goes out there to intentionally injure the opposition and yet somehow is still hailed as a star. As Pronger headhunted and knocked Cally out, someone should have gone after Jeff Carter's foot. Old time hockey. Yeah, I know, the Rangers just aren't that tough.
*Their toughest guys have been two of the best players and losing them for extended minutes would be a big blow. Who would think that we would be asking where would we be without Brandon Prust and Jody Shelley right now? Shelley ... well we have to celebrate the goal he scored and not the empty net he blew; Brian Boucher gets zero credit for his diving stick save considering he nearly shot the puck into his own net and Shelley left the puck on the ice. He didn't make the same mistake earlier when he took a quick pass from Prust and went to the net, chipping it past Boucher to make it a 2-1 game.
*When Arty got crushed by the evil muppet Scott Hartnell you knew someone would seek justice and it happened to be Dan Girardi. It was a nice juxtaposition from Girardi's lack of action in the Carcillo-Gabby incident but at the same time, losing one of the team's best defenders for five minutes with nine minutes to go is dangerous.
*After one minute of action many felt that this game would be the same as Wednesday, with the Rangers playing the part of the Leafs. Philly scored and Aaron Voros was called for a penalty. It seemed like the night was over before it started but the Rangers killed the penalty, kept skating and, once Dan Carcillo clipped Prust, the door opened and Chris Drury pulled the team through with the equalizing power play goal.
*Dru's goal was deja vu all over again. It was just like the miraculous equalizer in the win over New Jersey a few weeks back where Erik Christensen grabbed the coverage and made an picture-perfect pass to find Dru on the doorstep. Drury is at his best when he lets the defenders concentrate on the bigger threats before popping up in a good spot to pot the goal. 7.7 seconds.
*Poor People's Champ. Voros was called for two dubious penalties in the game - the one off that early faceoff that seemed quite trumped up and the other a late hit that was somehow interference on a player who wasn't moving. Both penalties were blissfully killed but man, Philly came soooo close on the second one. Voros owes Hank a dinner for the kick save he made on that kill.
*Marc Staal bounced back nicely from his mistake - the giveaway that opened the game's scoring - and played some tough minutes late. As with Lundqvist, the Rangers can't afford bad defensive turnovers from Staal like the one on the Richards goal too often - especially when they already have to deal with Rozy, Redden and MDZ's defensive deficiencies.
*No surprise that Rozy was on Danny Briere's side and let baby face get a clean shot for the Flyers second goal. Absolutely no surprise that Rozy actually kicked Richards' second goal in. This guy is a disaster. He makes Wade Redden look like Rod Langway.
*It is a shame that Dale Weise never got a shot to earn a NHL start because he would have been an appropriate replacement for P.A. Parenteau. It was clear in this one that P.A. is simply not big enough and strong enough to be a factor against the Flyers.
*I didn't win Blueshirts Off Our Backs. Again. Dammit.
*Anders Eriksson has very quietly been very solid.
*There were less Flyer fans than in games past, perhaps as it was the season ender. No matter what the reason, it was nice not having a lot of orange in the building.
*Arron Asham is a dirtbag.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 24 saves.
2-Mike Richards - two goals.
1-Marian Gaborik - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Prust - Prust will be an RFA this offseason and - as his play has shown - should be considered a priority to be re-signed. His hustle and toughness are proving to be great compliments to some actual hockey skill. He had it in junior, now it is translating to the big time on Broadway. Beautiful.
2-Dubi - He has disappeared on and off this season but he steps up his game against the Flyers every time and this one was no exception.
1-Gabby - Sure he got lucky that his shot hit Mat Carle's stick and fluttered past Boucher but there was no luck involved in his assist on Dubi's goal. All World talent.