Sunday, October 24, 2010
3-2-1: Is Something A'Bruin?
You have to wonder what exactly the Rangers are cooking up right now. Are they developing into a tough team to play against, one that battles buzzer to buzzer, as they did against the Leafs and tonight against the Bruins? Or are they just playing like any team that is coming together away from home and without their stars? They've had their cages rattled by their coach, they haven't had the distractions of NYC and they are just playing hockey. So which is it?
Frankly, I don't think we will find out Sunday night. Going from a pair of Original Six foes to the Devs should make for another valiant Ranger effort. The proof will be in the next two games, a pair of 'softies' in the Garden against Southeast teams Atlanta and Carolina - exactly the kinds of teams/games that the Blueshirts blunder.
But that is later this week. Here are some quick notes on tonight's 3-2 tilt in Beantown:
*I am firmly in the group of puckheads that hates seeing fights after perfectly legal hits but, seeing as the Rangers rarely stand up for each other, seeing Sean Avery go after Mark Stuart was heartwarming, outstanding even. It took the Big and the Bad out of the Bruins and sent a 'don't tread on us' message. This was the kind of thing that should have happened against the Leafs.
*And that was just the first of three fights in the opening period, if you can call them fight. Boogaard wrestled with Thornton (and lost by decision) while Brandon Prust tussled with Milan Lucic in a linesman-interrupted battle. It is amazing how many fights Lucic is in that end prematurely with the stripes stepping in.
*Nice goal by Arty. There, I said it. Good eye-hand coordination.
*MDZ is still a defensive disaster, and his offensive skills haven't been used well at all. The Ranger power play that he is quarterbacking is a disaster. On one hand, it is missing a triggerman like Gaborik but on the other, they are all professional hockey players and, with a man advantage, you would think they would have just that - an advantage.
*Rozy is not. The Czech vet has had two great games in a row. If he keeps playing at this level of competence, I may have to break out that jersey of his like last season. The sweater set off a win streak then and Rozy could get more shots on net, it could do it again now.
*Mike Sauer is leading the way in my 'who will I get on the throwback jersey' race. He was given an assist on the fluke Frolov goal - a goal that probably didn't deserve assists - but it has been his steady defensive work that just blows my hair back. I've been an advocate for this kid from day one so it's just great seeing him finally get a shot and fare well.
*Todd White played five minutes, 5:04 to be precise. For $2.375 million this season and at 35 years of age, you have to think that he is not long for this franchise.
*Back to the question that was posed at the top, perhaps the team is taking on the personality of it's on-ice leader - Ryan Callahan. Cally has been Cally at his best, just minus some scoring. He will do anything to make the play and busts his ass every second of every shift. When Dru was healthy, the team was inconsistent, much like Drury himself. Sometimes Dru would be great, sometimes he would disappear. Cally? Notsomuch. You hope that Cally can regain some kind of scoring touch but there could be worse things than having a Chris Clark-type captain who would go through a wall for the team heading the Rangers.
*Of course, Dru would have been quite useful during all of the penalty kills. Two five-on-threes is just too much.
*It was funny watching Dubi skating around after his first period slashing call - you could tell he didn't want to go back to the bench, where he was sure to face Tortorella's ire.
*Hope Prust's eye is alright. Prust has given an honest effort all season and was having another solid hardhat game when he was high sticked. A guy like that will never wear a visor full time (and shouldn't have to). What the hell kind of classless idiots booed when he was clipped by Campbell? Man I hate Boston. I also hate Jersey and since that game is 16 hours away, I will just get to the stars ...
*PHW Three Stars
3-Nathan Horton - one goal and one assist.
2-Brandon Dubinsky - one assist.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 35 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Girardi - Like last game, I hedged on this final star. Staal scored, Cally was Cally and Dubi had a strong all-around game but Girardi played nearly seven minutes shorthanded. Ever since Eminger was eliminated from the blueline, the Ranger defense has played better as a unit and has been significantly tougher with Girardi leading the way.
2-Zdeno Chara - Serious credit has to go to whatever scout, coach or GM that actually saw the promise in that lumbering clown of a awkward goon the Islanders had on defense a dozen years ago. He is a monster of a man and plays his size on both sides of the ice.
1-Hank - Something about the Bruins brings out the best in Hank - from that insane save on Savvy a few seasons back to his tough work tonight. While this is the third time that I've made him one of my stars, I believe this was his first Kingly performance of the season.