Thursday, October 28, 2010
4-3-1: Oh Yeah, That's The Rangers I Know
All signs pointed towards a result like the one that we got tonight - a 6-4 loss by the Rangers at the hands of the Atlanta Thrashers. The team beat tough, meaningful opponents and looked good doing it. Then they faced a loser team that no one cares about and virtually no one cared about them - no one on the Rangers at least. It is the New York m.o. and the loss is not the least bit surprising.
There was nothing surprising about this loss and only one thing really worth raging about: early in the second period Marty Biron was ran by a Thrasher (Thorburn?), Steve Eminger crossed checked the guy, Derek Boogaard skated to the bench, the guy skated away and play continued. (I will fill in the details when I get to re-watch the game.) After years of watching lackluster efforts like this game, it is easy to accept them as par for the course. It is never easy to accept watch a NHL goaltender - especially one on the team you love - get bowled over and have no one do anything. And it is the second time it has happened this season.
With this being a anniversary year, we keep hearing about the history and pride of the organization. It is about time this bunch of Blueshirts show some pride.
*The only Ranger who can look at himself and say 'well, at least I played my hardest every second I was on the ice' was Ryan Callahan. And you know what? He won't say that - which is all the more reason to love him.
*The turning point wasn't in the third period when they hit the post with six or seven minutes to go - it was in the second. Right after Avery scored to tie the game at two the Rangers had a power play and blew it. Someone, I forget who, turned and asked 'who the hell ices the puck on the power play?!?!' The Rangers, that's who. The momentum was all for the Blueshirts after the goal and the penalty but they blew it, and just a few minutes later Bergfors scored to make it a 3-2 game. They had to play catch-up and, despite an all-too-typical rally, they fell short.
*All four Ranger goals came from around the net - Cally one-timer from the top of the crease, Avery wrap around, White dunk and Boyle doorstep wrister. So why do they spend 90% of the time playing along the perimeter when they have a power play?
*Biron was nothing short of horrible. Professional goaltenders shouldn't allow goals to the short side, much less three of them. Everything that he did well in Toronto he didn't do well on this night. But it must be said that he certainly received less help from his teammates; no Maple Leafs sauntered around the Rangers the way Bryan Little did to score the first Atlanta goal. Pathetic. In case you were wondering, Steve Valiquette is still playing in the KHL.
*Six Ranger defensemen, and not a single iota of defensive acumen among them on this night. MDZ was an outright disaster and is showing that he is not ready (or simply not able to) run a NHL power play. Staal and Girardi are lost without each other. Rozy had some ups and downs before he was hurt and you really have to wonder what it is that Torts sees in Eminger. If Sauer can walk, he should be back in the lineup come Friday - if not for Eminger than for Hobey or Rozy.
*Do you think Todd White's goal made him more attractive to prospective trade partners? No? Me neither. That he was on the ice in the last desperate minutes of the third was simply stupid coaching.
*I'm wondering about the coaching a lot of late - why does Torts insist on his team using the crutch of dump and chase hockey? I mean, they aren't quite capable of outright puck possession - few guys can stickhandle and the team's passing leaves much to be desired - but damn, they are NHLers, they should be able to gain the blueline once in a while.
*Arty was injured, but whatever. Outside of his smart feed to Cally in the opening minute, he wasn't doing much of anything good. Watching him try to skate through three Thrashers at one point made my skin crawl.
*The other Russian, Alex Frolov, was a lazy waste of space. The Rangers were begging for someone to take control and make a play and yet Frolov was nowhere to be found. I watched one shift where the puck was deep in the Ranger zone and Frolov circled alone by the blueline. Where his teammates were scoring goals from in close, he stayed on the perimeter of the offensive zone. Where was the guy who looked so good in preseason?
*Derek Stepan continues to struggle at the Garden. His linemates Avery and Fedotenko are willing to trudge through the trenches to make plays, the kid needs to follow suit - just put his head down and work. He can't win a faceoff and looks lost half the time. In fact, he was replaced by Boyle on his line in the third period and Boyle scored.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Sean Avery - one goal and one assist.
2-Anthony Stewart - two assists.
1-Niclas Bergfors - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Andrew Ladd - His goal was an empty netter and he didn't deserve his assist on the Little goal (as my buddy Mike said, how do you give two assists when the scorer does all the work red line in?). But Ladd plays a simple, hard-nosed game that works.
2-Stewart - As I said in the Peepin' Foes, he hasn't been as hot as his brother but he has been contributing and that is what he did in this one. A fearless kid, he showed good ice sense and quick hands.
1-Dustin Byfuglien - Buff was a monster, the best player on the ice. He hit, he blocked shots and he took them - and one went in. A big power guy playing a big power game.