Sunday, November 28, 2010
14-10-1: Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad
The Rangers will head back into the Garden for their matchup against the evil Penguins on a high note after beating Nashville 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday night. As it has been of late, it was a game where a few guys put their oars in the water and pulled the entire ship but they pulled hard enough to win.
There is cause for celebration as the team is heading in the right direction. After two periods of putrid play in Tampa, the boys have slowly picked things up. They took advantage of the Bolts to make the scoreline look respectable, then won despite being outplayed in Florida and tonight beat a well-coached grinding team at their own game. We'll see if they can keep this upward swing when they face Pittsburgh and their cronies the officials on Monday.
Just going to get right into it:
*Erik Christensen is infuriating. Mr. Softie the Backstabber blatantly kicked the puck in the net, then proceeded to miss a pair of perfect chances that were gift wrapped for him. He had those opportunities because he was standing around while his linemates were battling around him. The so-called skill guy doesn't seem to have chemistry with anyone other than Gaborik and can be pushed off the puck quite easily (more on another Ranger like that later). When his mistakes were presented to him during an intermission interview, he didn't seem the least bit upset. So, with the hate still seething from my pores, Christy goes on to score a pretty goal in the shootout. Sonofa... In the postgame interview he admitted to using the same move he does every time, which goes to show that Pekka Rinne doesn't do his homework. As @mleetch352 pointed out to me, Christy can score in the skill competition "maybe because there is no threat of being hit by the other team?"
*Those aforementioned interviews, by the way, came with Dave Maloney seemingly inside a dark closet. What, MSG can't afford lighting? Even a small lamp atop the camera would have been better than looking at Mr. Softie cloaked in shadow, like a Sith lord or something.
*The King, meanwhile, showed that he has regained a bit of his form. While he was hardly tested by the Panthers, the Predators came right at him and he made several big saves. None were better than the one he made on a early break by Martin Erat, even if the Nashville goal came moments later.
*That goal came on Dan Girardi's stickhandling gaffe. It was a bouncing puck and it tantalized the usually steady blueliner - instead of turning and holding off the oncoming Wilson, Girardi started towards the boards but still didn't have possession and Carey's kid came in and scored. Random interesting thing about Carey, by the way, was the Rangers dealt him to Hartford with a third round pick for Jody Hull. The interesting part? The Whale selected Michael Nylander with that pick.
*It is sad that the current state of the Ranger power play makes me long for the Nylander/Jagr days because the power play sucked then too. But at least back then they were able to get the puck in the zone and stay there for a while. The current man advantage men are just awful, primarily because of MDZ. How long will we wait for something to click with this kid?
*Dubi, Cally, Avery, Prust, Girardi, Staal and Sauer all deserve attaboys for their efforts. Granted, Avery got his ass kicked by an eskimo but he can't be accused of lollygagging. Those guys make up the core of this team and who knows where we would be without them. Stepan has had games where he is right there with them but he clearly is still getting his skates under him.
*No, I didn't include Arty in that. Some credit must be given for his attempts to be more active than he was in Florida but I counted three times where he stickhandled into coverage and simply gave up possession of the puck. Most of his goals this season have come from sheer opportunism - it is nice that he has scored them but for a big, skilled kid he needs to be able to initiate the action with hard work instead of just capitalizing on others' efforts.
*Todd White played nearly 10 minutes. Could you tell? Me neither.
*Rozy returned to the lineup, weren't you excited to see him? Me neither. Rozsival clearly had his share of rust and yet Torts still gave him 22:22 of ice time, including more than two minutes with the man advantage. His timing was off, his positioning was off and he contributed little. Maybe it wasn't rust, because that is just like how he was before the injury ...
*Do you like Alex Frolov? Me neither. I would guess that noone, outside of his mother, does at this point. This guy is just awful and he is making three mil for it. Once he loses his spot on the top three lines once Prospal, Dru and Gabby come back, perhaps Sather can send him to Hartford and bring up a grinder like Dale Weise or Brodie Dupont. Brodie, by the way, might actually win a few faceoffs - something the Rangers struggle to do. That would be moot if MZA's acclimation to North America would go faster.
*MZA, by the way, had a four-game point streak (three goals and three assists) snapped tonight against Bridgeport. The team had 45 shots and MZA accounted for just two, not counting a blown attempt in the shootout. The Whale's new goon Stu Bickel had five shots, an assist and a fight.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Pekka Rinne - 23 saves.
2-Erik Christensen - shootout goal.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 29 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Jerred Smithson - It is hard to pick just one of the grinding Predators - Goc and Ward also deserved consideration - but Smithson kept winning faceoffs, allowing Nashville to control play.
2-Cally - Callahan certainly needs a nickname and seeing how Little Ball of Hate is taken, is Captain acceptable? Well that handle will come in two seasons ...
1-Dubi - Hank may have made a few saves, Christy may have scored the game winner but Dubi was the best player on the ice by far. He was incredibly frustrating last season but that was because of his inconsistency - something he clearly has improved upon this season.