Friday, November 12, 2010
8-7-1: A Win? At Home? Strange ...
The Rangers' fortunes changed for the better on Thursday as the Blueshirts won at the Garden, and in overtime no less. They beat Buffalo 3-2 on an OT goal by Arty Anisimov, his second goal of the game. And it counted, which was almost as surprising as the officials found ways to call two other Ranger goals off.
Two issues before I get to the game:
1- Trading Dane Byers was stupid. The Pack are doing terrible, so they trade the captain? I would gladly watch the Rangers lose a few if it meant that Chris Drury would be dealt... Byers has done everything right on the ice, I can't see the logic in letting him go for a Blue Jacket - especially considering how well the last trade with that franchise went. Unless Hartford goes on a five, 10, 15 game win streak, this trade was a mistake.
2- I want all of your input on this one - do you feel that the Garden needs to be renovated? Does the state of the building keep you from attending games? I had a discussion with my rep and she couldn't comprehend my reluctance. Ticket prices have skyrocketed since the lockout, and who will end up paying for it? Us. And what are we getting out of it? Nothing that I can see. Her rationale was that there would be more bathrooms and more places to buy food/beer. I don't know about you guys, but most Garden regulars I know all have their routines and rarely have problems. So please comment - do you think a new shiny building with a few more toilets is worth paying five, 10, 20 bucks more a night?
Ok, some game stuff:
*Credit to Marty Biron, stepping in last second. He really didn't have to do all that much - Buffalo wasn't particularly good - but goaltenders are creatures of routine and being thrown into the net just before gametime surely was a surprise. Biron's biggest saves were all his own fault as his rebound control was atrocious. If he had allowed Buffalo to take the lead on that third period wrap-around, Alex Frolov may have requested a trade.
*Buffalo was indeed mediocre. The Sabres the Rangers faced last night were far, far different from the team that won the Northeast last year. That team had rock solid goaltending that radiated a confidence that the rest of the players drew off of. They combined skill with effort and great coaching to take the division title. Last night's squad was actually quite like the Rangers - the skill guys can't score and dump and chase is the dull gameplan of choice. They battle but they don't have that extra level it takes to put away scoring chances.
*It is a shame that Pat Kaleta wasn't injured. He lost his balance and fell, then literally cried about it. What a piece of garbage. He is just as despicable as Matt Cooke.
*Seven goals were scored in the game (two didn't count) and six of them were scored within a few feet of the paint. Sometimes you just have to get dirty to get the job done. If the Ranger forwards can keep that willingness to work going forward, and the defense can learn how to do their jobs, the team can be quite formidable.
*The best thing I saw all night was Marc Staal clocking Thomas Vanek when Vanek was jamming at Biron in the second period. Standing up for the goaltender. Second game in a row. Finally.
*Brian Leetch seems to be around a bit this season, perhaps he needs to be hired full time to coach Michael Del Zotto. The kid needs serious tutoring and if it won't come in Hartford, it needs to come at the country club training center. There is no debate left, a blind man can see MDZ has regressed. Something has to be done and throwing him minute after minute of ice time is not it. His mistakes, his indecision and his reluctance to shoot is a massive reason why the Ranger power play is a disaster.
*Marian Gaborik definitely was rusty but his poise with the puck was a breath of fresh air. Unlike many of his teammates, Gabby doesn't panic with he gains possession in the offensive zone. He doesn't immediately throw it behind the net or bounce it off the boards, he takes a second, looks at his options and makes his play. He is kinda good.
*Frolov is not. And that is all I have to say about him.
*Matt Gilroy returned and was quietly effective as he focused on his defense rather than trying to add offense. That being said, he was rarely put under pressure so it may be best to withhold judgement.
*Do the Rangers think that Derek Stepan is in a position where he can succeed while playing with Sean Avery and Todd White? All three are miscast on that line.
*Avery and Brandon Prust need to get things going. Their compete level can not be questioned but they haven't been effective lately for some reason or another - the juggling linemates, the ice time they are getting, the opponents they are facing.
*I still can't decide if I want Prust, Sauer or Cally on the back of the new Heritage sweater. All three had assists in this game, all three always work hard, all three have traits of their game I find admirable and all three easily could be gone by next season.
*I just saw on MSG that Acacio Marques had his 1,000th game last night - it is a shame that he wasn't honoured in the building. Guys like him and Jim Ramsay make the Rangers go.
*There were a lot of Buffalo sweaters at the Garden. It was easy to laugh at them as many were Buffa-slugs but still, in a game that wasn't at capacity, there was a solid number of those people. Mike Grier is a helluva player and yet I didn't see a single one of his jerseys. Stupid Sabres fans.
*Erik Christensen caught Arty's bug - the disease where he can't win a faceoff to win his life. Christy was probably the worst Ranger on the ice in this one, which hurts as the return of Gabby was supposed to energize the waiver wire acquisition.
*It was Steve Eminger's best game as a Ranger. He made smart, simple plays and his positioning was solid.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Mike Grier - one goal.
2-Martin Biron - 29 saves.
1-Artem Anisimov - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Arty - Right spots at the right times. Credit given.
2-Grier - One of those core lunchpail NHLers who just goes out there and does his job. The BU grad has never been one of the most skilled guys but he has always been one of the hardest workers.
1-Ruslan Fedotenko - Fedotenko was faced without a NHL job this season and was lucky enough to get a tryout with the Rangers. Well, he is rewarding their faith with a willingness to do anything to score. Fedotenko banged home a pair of goals from the doorstep (only one counted) and his efforts resulted in Arty's game-winner.