Monday, October 25, 2010
4-2-1: Three Games, Four Nights, No Problem
All of the worries that New Jersey and Ilya Kovalchuk would come out flying after their Saturday embarrassments proved unwarranted on Sunday. The Rangers kept them grounded in a 3-1 win by the boys in blue.
Any win over Mmmmaaarrrtttyyyy and company is a good one but this marked the third straight solid effort by New York. The Rangers simply did their jobs and skated their hardest first against Toronto, then against Boston and then this evening. It is the kind of consistent, honest effort that we have been crying for for years now and it was a delight to watch.
That being said - because you know there had to be a hitch here - the Rangers have often stepped up their game against big opponents. I mentioned it in the Bruins wrap: these are the games you kind of expect them to come out for, the two coming up will where we see the true makeup of this bunch of Blueshirts. It is one thing when they take the ice against the Devils and another when they face the Hurricanes. I'm not taking anything away from what they've done, I'm just tempering my excitement and feel you would be wise to as well.
Some slap shots on this one:
*Games at the Garden just have a different feeling when it is John Amirante signing the national anthem. It was nice to have him set the tone for the night.
*On another musical note - the tunes during warmups were an offense against my ears. Dance remixes of metal songs (Danzig, Metallica), techno and hip hop? Really? How do you get pumped up from that? Oomps, Oomps, Oomps, ugh. After warmups there was just an odd mix through the game with Pantera popping up (YES!!) but sandwiched through the usual Garden garbage.
*Speaking of garbage, why is it that Jersey fans are seemingly embracing the Jersey Shore look and attitude? There were at least a half dozen of those ... people ... in my section. How vile.
*The title of the post is a bit misleading because there have been problems, just not crippling ones. The Rangers continue to lose more faceoffs than they win and the power play went just 2-14 over the three games. The lack of man advantage ability can be attributed to several factors, 1-the quarterbacks are not quarterbacking well, 2-the point people aren't getting pucks on net (if they shoot at all) and 3-few Rangers are paying the price in front. It is not surprising that the Rangers scored when Arty was by the net, Ryan Callahan joined him in the slot and was able to redirect a Dubi feed through Fatso's legs.
*Yes, that was me giving credit to Arty again. Buoyed by Dubi and Cally, the former Pack pups are pushing each other to play better. Cally set the tone with his relentless work and the other two have fallen in step to form a solid unit - they are simply getting it now.
*It would be a lesson well learned by some of the other Rangers, specifically Alex Frolov. He continues to play along the perimeter and continues to be a nonfactor.
*Sean Avery, always a factor when facing Fatso, had a pretty quiet game but was still effective. That high sticking hiccup aside (a dubious call if you ask me), Avery skated hard without being a distraction for his own teammates. He and Fedotenko play a good, simple game that can only be good for young Derek Stepan. Step yet again showed his nerves on Garden ice but it should only be a matter of time before he finds a comfort level that allows him to bring those stellar road efforts home.
*As with Corey Locke last season, Torts said he wanted to take a look at a Pack player and proceeded to give him virtually no ice time. Jeremy Williams saw less than four minutes so it is next to impossible to judge his ability. He saw 16 more seconds than Derek Boogaard, who has proved he has no ability.
*As Eric from 5-Hole asked me, it may be time for me to bust out my Michal Rozsival sweater. Rozy was ... wait for it ... wait for it ... good. He is not the player he was when Jagr was here - that is clear - but during the last few games he has been a solid, veteran presence on the blueline.
*But don't you guys worry about me, I still have someone to hate - Steve Eminger. The guy has no place on our team. Jim Cerny said that Mike Sauer was nicked up hurt and it certainly could have hurt the Rangers. Without his ability, Torts had to limit the third pairing to just over eight minutes - giving MDZ over 28 minutes. Torts burned MDZ out a bit early last season as well and that can not happen again. It is difficult to learn and grow when the pressure is that great.
*Credit to Brandon Prust for playing a day after a scary high stick. Usually when a player adds the protection of a visor or facemask, they can play with an extra level of fearlessness but Prust did not. He skated well and showed a good effort but was not the factor that he was against Toronto or early against Boston.
*There is nothing great about David Clarkson. He is like a scummier version of Avery, without the ability.
*Ilya Kovalchuk? Much ado about nothing. Overrated, overpriced, one-dimensional loser. He is a big reason why none of his teams have won a playoff series and that, hopefully (likely), won't change this year.
*Sorry about the delay on this wrap guys, it ended up being quite a late night, even for me.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Brandon Dubinsky - one goal and one assist.
2-Ryan Callahan - one goal and one assist.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 27 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Rozy - This is the second time this season he has broken into my top three, which I think is two more times than all of last season. As I said, the younger offensive weapon that Rozy was is no longer but he is using the tools that he has left to be a pillar of the blueline. He could still be better, that is for certain, but he hasn't been the liability he was in recent seasons.
2-Hank - Much like he has done most matches against the Devils, Hank outdueled Mmmaaaarrrtttyyyy, clearing getting the better of the former Vezina winner. Hank's positioning has been perfect, he hasn't over committed and his puck tracking has been second to none.
1-Cally - A tale of two captains: there was Jamie Langenbrunner on one side of the ice, taking dumb penalties, arguing with the officiating and doing nothing on the ice. On the other side, Cally. Skating, hustling, keeping his feet moving, battling, working. Standing up for his teammates, drawing penalties and swarming Marty the Poo's honey hole (that just sounds dirty, sorry). Chris Drury's finger has helped Cally grow into the leadership role and we can only pray that his eventual return won't change that.