Thursday, October 21, 2010
If you are Henrik Lundqvist, sitting on the bench watching the Ranger 2-1 win over Toronto, what are you thinking?
Who are these guys and what did you do with the Rangers? Oh, the same guys? then why can't they play like this when I'm in net?
When the announcement was made that Marty Biron was starting, I figured that the Blueshirts were writing off this game but the exact opposite happened - they tightened up and played good hockey. They forced the action rather than letting the Leafs dictate it. When they were forced to react, instead of setting back on their heels, they stood up and got in the Leafs' faces, blocking shots and passes. Forechecking, backchecking, shot blocking, shocking!!!!
It is the efforts like these that infuriate me that much more when we see the listless, halfhearted garbage night after night. Last year's team had efforts like this but had many more when they didn't show up. Perhaps the new A on Staal's sweater marks A new start. Then again, maybe not so we might as well enjoy it while we can. But before I break out the beer, some notes:
*The two early goals assured Colby Armstrong would escape his come-uppance because there is no way Torts would allow anyone to do anything to jeopardize the lead. You could see Torts seething when Avery got called for his slash late in the first period.
*Aside from that penalty, which was stupid to take because you knew the refs were looking for it, Avery had a great game. Reunited with Stepan and Fedotenko, they skated and skated and skated. They pressed the action and didn't allow the Leafs to get any kind of flow. Stepen clearly has been suffering from MSG-itis, a fear of playing in MSG. Where he was gripping his stick too tight, second guessing his moves and making mistakes at the Garden, he simply played hockey here. His comfort level was high and he had chemistry with Aves and Tank. Look for Torts to break them up again soon.
*Yes, I laughed when Arty scored on an assist from Rozy. No, I'm still not giving Anisimov credit. Kaberle was watching the puck like a cat watches a laser pointer, he gave Arty body position and forgot he was there. Boogaard could have scored that. All credit to Rozy for the perfect feed and Gustavsson for not poking it away. Ok, I will give him a smidge of credit for his late faceoffs - he lost the puck but chased it, forcing the Leafs back - but I still don't enjoy watching him play.
*The other Ranger that has taken some tough words in this space this season - well, the other one that played tonight - MDZ was far better in the Ranger end. All of the Blueshirt blueliners were better than usual. Gilroy didn't panic and nearly scored a goal. Rozy's assist, as I said, was a beautiful thing, and Sauer quietly stepped into the lineup and did his job. It was delightful to see him do that; hopefully that means we will never see Eminger again.
*If I am going to be nice to MDZ and Arty, well, then the venom has to go elsewhere and it lands on Alex Frolov, who was disappointing. He definitely put forth some effort but it didn't get him or the Rangers anywhere. His miss on the empty net after Hobey hit the crossbar had me twitching. Especially after Cally batted the puck out of midair in the first period.
*Boogaard finally got into his first fight as a Ranger. It wasn't particularly impressive - a prearranged battle with Colton Orr that had no meaning in the context of the game. Boogaard landed a few big punches, missed a few more and was taken to the ice - certainly a better showing than Brashear had in his first battle as a Ranger last year. But he played 2:59 and sat in the penalty box for five - is that worth the $20k or so he makes per game?
*Rangers went 25-31 at the dot and 0-5 on the power play. I really don't want to talk about either. Let's just be happy with the win.
*Where Erik Christensen was disappointing yet again, Todd White had perhaps his best showing yet. White is a capable two-way center and he played like it.
*Anyone know why Mike Komisarek played just 12 minutes?
*PHW Three Stars
3-Arty Anisimov - one goal.
2-Luke Schenn - 19,310 Leaf fans cheering everything he did.
1-Marty Biron - 24 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Rozy - Hey, I'm as shocked as you are. Actually I was going to give the third star to MDZ but saw a replay of Rozy's feed to Arty and it gave him the edge. Actually this could also go to Girardi ... let's just say that the Blueshirt blueliners get the third star.
2-Biron - For all of the defensemen's efforts, Toronto was still able to get a lot of good chances and Biron stopped them. Gustavsson made more saves but Biron made better ones. He stayed square to the shooters, showed great economy of motion and calmly controlled the crease.
1-Ryan Callahan - Wouldn't it be great if we could strip the C from Drury and hand it to Cally? Up and down the ice, never stopping - his effort night after night is so great to watch.