Tuesday, October 19, 2010
You can look at the Rangers' 3-1 loss to the Avalanche (and the next month of action) one of two ways:
1- What did you think would happen? Marian Gaborik, Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal - arguably three of their most valuable forwards are injured. Without them, well, the Rangers can't be expected to compete with healthy, skilled, well coached teams.
2- Even without the injured trio, the Rangers still have Henrik Lundqvist and that makes them competitive against anyone. If only a few breaks went their way ...
I, as you surely guessed, refuse to use the crutch that is the first option. But, that being said, the players who aren't hurt and the coach who runs their bench have to come together and give Lundqvist something to work with. You make your own luck and on this evening the Rangers did not. Desperately grasping at the straws of the barren cupboard of forwards, Tortorella slapped together some lines that were utterly devoid of chemistry or capability. The Rangers had no idea of where their teammates were, had no idea what do to with the puck the rare times they had it and were completely outworked by the younger, hungrier Avalanche squad.
The box score, in it's black and white way, allows an observer to say that it was just a momentary mental/defensive/whatever lapse in the third period that gave Colorado two goals in 26 seconds and decided the game. But it was so much more than that, and so much more painful. Sure it was just the fourth game of the season but it was just the fourth game of the season - how can the team already be so far off the message and look so disorganized?
*Without Hank, the Aves would have put up a 10 spot. He was surely culpable in the goals he allowed but the barrage of good scoring chances he endured was ridiculous.
*We knew that the defense would be bad, but really, who thought it would be this atrocious. As in the days when they were saddled with the incompetence of their partners Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi are regressing. They are trying to do too much and end up doing far too little. Rozy is still far from the player he was when Jagr was here and Michael Del Zotto simply does not know how to play his position. The third pairing of Steve Eminger and Hobey Gilroy isn't fit to play in the AHL, much less the NHL. How and why Tortorella insisted on bringing them back again after the Toronto game is utterly beyond me but the two should be sent to Greenville ASAP. Reinsert the quietly capable Mike Sauer and either re-sign Anders Eriksson (who I believe was released from the Isles) or bring up one of the kids from the Pack. Eminger is a journeyman for a reason and Hobey was a great college player but is not a NHL caliber guy - at least not yet.
*The lack of chemistry was painfully obvious. Colorado would skate as a unit to gain the zone, moving together with smart, short passes and some actual puck carrying. The Rangers just kept panicking and going back to their classic dump and change - not dump and chase. Not to mention the utter incompetence of the power play unit. Different year, same complaints: no decisive QB, telegraphing passes, painful shot selection (if there is a shot at all) and no one battling in the crease.
*If Mark Messier can't teach the Rangers how to win faceoffs, how do you people expect him to take over the GM job and run the organization? The centers couldn't win a draw to save their lives and it allowed the Aves to dictate the play from the drop. Being at home is supposed to give you an advantage at the dots ...
*Chris Stewart is everything I had hoped Brandon Dubinsky would be when they moved him to wing. Instead Dubi mucks about in a north-south game looking to pass to guys who can't finish. He should be the finisher, a power forward willing to drive to the net.
*When the Rangers were bored and listless and going through the motions with it tied at one, it woulda been great to see Derek Boogaard go out there and make something happen, huh? And his intimidation factor is so great that it, like totally, stopped TJ Galiardi from boarding Dan Girardi, right? Oh wait, it didn't and MDZ took a retaliation penalty that negated a Ranger power play (not that they wouldn't have blown it like the other five, but still).
*I honestly did not notice Erik Christensen was in the lineup until the 16 minute mark of the third period. I did notice Todd White several times and thought that seeing that 12 jersey skating around doing nothing was awfully familiar of too many nights last season - when both Kotalik and Jokinen donned the digit.
*All of you guys who tore me apart for being critical of Arty Anisimov, are you finally seeing what I saw from day one? For his size he can be pushed off the puck 99 percent of the time by a strong gust of wind. His skating is lacking - he kept falling down in this one. And he simply doesn't have the drive. Call me Don Cherry but it is a trait shared by fellow former communist Alex Frolov. Frolov seems to believe that doing the same move 18 times coming out from behind the enemy net will somehow have a different result some day. The bottom line is that both of these guys are obviously talented but they just don't seem to have that extra oomph that would make them reliable night in and night out.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Alex Frolov - one goal.
2-Craig Anderson - 31 saves.
1-Chris Stewart - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - Two of the three goals against came when shorthanded. Its been said before and will be said again - the Rangers are wasting away what appears to be the prime of his career.
2-Paul Stastny - He doesn't have the flair that his dad seemed to have but he certainly has the grim determination and will to win. Stastny was battling all over the ice and had no trouble taking his fight to Hank's doorstep.
1-Stewart - Prior to the game I pointed out to a friend - a lapsed Avalanche fan - that Stewart was the hottest player on the Aves entering the evening and he proved me right. The strides that he has made in his career have been remarkable and, judging from what we saw tonight, he still has yet to reach his peak.