Tuesday, November 30, 2010
14-11-1: How Unpleasant
The pathetic display of pucks on Monday night was a game of men against boys and anytime there are men and boys around, you know Sidney Crosby had himself a good time. Crosby's cronies defeated the Rangers 3-1 in a game that didn't remotely resemble that scoreline. Had it not been for some Henrik heroics and the perfect positioning of the pipes behind him, it would have been a 9-1 affair. Easily.
After the Rangers attempted the play the Penguins run and gun game for the first few minutes and the Pens scored, the Blueshirts spent the rest of their game on their heels, letting Pittsburgh do anything and everything they wanted. Instead of playing the tight, smart defensive game that served them well in the teams' last matchup, the Rangers were an unorganized mess that couldn't do a damned thing right.
It was one of their worst performances of the season, and of course it came on home ice. How is one not to assume that these kids are enjoying Manhattan's allures a little too much when they're 5-7-1 at home and 9-4 on the road? Of the five home wins, only one was convincing and it was against Edmonton - a team that could be beaten by half of the AHL. They practice - or so they claim - up in their sequestered Westchester country club and amble into the Garden, do their business, collect extravagant paycheques and then head to their luxury apartments. What a life. When the team is on the road they are forced together, forced into a real regimen, forced to come together as a unit and they win. Amazing how that works.
*The lone Ranger goal came from Marian Gaborik, who did his best Brian Boyle impression and just shot the damned puck for once. What a concept.
*There was alot of rage at the officiating but it wasn't the zebras who lost this game. Crosby is a bitch and the Pens get the benefit of the doubt. We know that. But those same officials who missed alleged slewfoots also gave the Rangers three power plays that the Blueshirts pissed away like dollar bills at strip clubs.
*By my count the Rangers had four point blank opportunities that they either missed three feet wide or 15 feet high. The net is 4x6, how hard is it to just get the damned puck on net? Instead of being fancy and trying to pick corners, they need to just get it on goal and follow their shots. If the goalie makes the save, then there is a rebound or a chance to knock it loose. The second Marc-Andre Fleury touched the puck, the Rangers backed off - whether he had control or not.
*Michael Del Zotto was on the ice constantly, 25 minutes according to the box score but it seemed like more. And what did he do with it? Aside from one nice play - falling to block the pass on one of the 8,000 odd man rushes by the Pens - MDZ was atrocious. His passes don't put his teammates in good positions (when they are on the mark at all), he rarely shoots the puck, he can't hold the offensive blue line and he can't clear the puck out of the defensive zone. Torts keeps giving him more and more minutes and he keeps getting worse and worse.
*That isn't to say that the other defensemen were any better. Girardi kept pinching, Eminger was out of position, Staal was overwhelmed, Rozsival is .... ugh, Rozsival, and Sauer saw all of 13 minutes despite being the lone blueliner willing to hit the Penguins when they were around the Ranger net.
*Of the guys up front, Todd White was the best of the bunch and that pretty much says it all.
*Loved the white papers (asbestos!!) that came fluttering down from the ceiling in the third period. At least that led to some laughs.
*Also enjoyed the quick ceremony for Rod Gilbert, marking 50 years as a Ranger. MSG should have shone a spotlight on his retired number but whatever. He is the first and seemingly last home-grown Ranger scorer who spent his entire career here. Every other born-and-bred Blueshirt who could put the puck in was dealt away at some point. From Bathgate and Hadfield to Amonte and even Kovalev, they all ended up elsewhere.
*There were two fights in this one, Prust vs the Trasher Mike Rupp and Avery vs Tyler Kennedy. The only reason I could figure for the Prust fight was that he wanted to put a charge in the Rangers, but it was late in the first period so that excuse makes no sense. Just two tough guys going at it. Avery vs Kennedy just seemed to be Avery going for some pride after the team went down 3-0. The results were mixed as Gabby scored three minutes later but if the goal was a result of the fight, the emotion died once the puck went in.
*The emotion in the building ... well, there wasn't much. There were wide swaths of empty seats down low, upstairs we waited for either the Pens or the officials to screw us and smattered all around were too many Penguin fans. Horrible.
*Nice of Tortorella to use his timeout with 28 seconds left, just to let most of the fans leave early. Seriously, what was the point? To rub in the fact that his team couldn't create any offense with an empty net?
*The official event summary had the Rangers guilty of just two giveaways. I guess that the official scorer doesn't count the team passing the puck right to the Pens as giveaways; otherwise it would be 15-20. That same summary listed 86 hits. Maybe the official scorer simply wasn't watching this game ...
This team had better use the next two days working because you know that the Islanders will play high above their pay grades later this week and the last thing the Rangers need is to lose two games to them.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Sidney Crosby - one assist.
2-Marc-Andre Fleury - 25 saves.
1-Pascal Dupuis - two assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Deryk Engelland/Brooks Orpik - The two tough Penguin defensemen clearly intimidated the Rangers as no Blueshirts bothered Fleury. The Flower saw most shots and had time to grab any and all loose pucks.
2-Chris Connor - The little bastard was persistent. Connor, 5'9 with skates on (maybe) kept his feet moving and kept finding himself involved in the action. He could take a hit and keep the puck and create the play. Basically everything I hope MZA will do once he gets used to North America.
1-Kris Letang - With Arron Asham gone, Letang seems to have taken the dirtbag look away with that greasy mop of hair. But looks aside, Letang was instrumental in the Pittsburgh offense. Sometimes he was starting the rush, sometimes he was joining it. Letang has stepped up and filled Gonchar's skates well.
But as bad as this game was, at least Chris McGrath of Getty Images got this photo out of it to make us smile: