The two big topics that are sure to be talked about are Avery's antics in the 8-2 Ranger win over the Oilers and Colin Campbell's idiocy with e-mails. Seeing as the big picture stuff is best left to big picture people, you will not find reaction on our former coach's stupidity here (really, it is just more of a continuation from his tenure here). As for Avery, well, many points need to be made but first off, if you haven't seen it, this is a must watch. Here are a half dozen thoughts:
1- Above everything, this incident proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that fight belongs in hockey. All of the tree-hugging pacifists out there that cry over it aren't the ones roaring their approval. The Garden was far from capacity and yet it was louder than it has been all season long. And you know what? Not one of the many (many) little kids ran crying out of the place. Not one parent in the general vicinity of section 329 shielded their children's eyes. The emotion of the moment energized the place like nothing else has outside of the rare playoff victory.
2- This space has been very favourable for Avery but he needs to be called out in this instance. If you are going to fight, fight like a man. Jumping some soft, stupid European is not honourable. Even if said Euro literally asked for it. And after a perfectly legal hit.
3- That being said, Avery attacking Smid did not cause the brawl. Tom Renney's inability to control his players did that. As Copper & Blue lamented before the game, the Renney that is "leading" Edmonton is not the Renney that ran the Rangers. Our head coach kept the team on a tight leash, one that at times strangled the life out of Colton Orr and the team. If you think, for one moment, that Renney would have allowed a Ranger to skate the length of the bench and try to run down the runway after an opposing player, you never watched him coach. As soft of a touch that man had, he was in full control.
4- Theo Peckham deserves more of a beating than Boyle gave him in that wrestling match and Colin Fraser should be fined for going after Dubinsky, who was on the Ranger bench. No wonder Chicago had no qualms with dropping the affordable Fraser ...
5- The NHL On The Fly crew went off about how Avery is forcing his teammates to fight his battles for him, an utterly illogical assumption based upon their predetermined loathing for him. Hey guys, sticks and stones. Avery was pulled off the ice by a smart linesman while he was still yapping but the petulant children on the Oilers were responsible for losing their temper and getting physically out of control. And to say that Brandon Prust solely squared off with
6- The NHL schedule-makers suck. As detailed in No. 1 on this list, people enjoy fighting. Bad blood sells. Too bad these teams won't face each other again for a year, year-and-a-half and even then, it will likely be in Edmonton, not MSG.
Now there was indeed a full hockey game played so other notes:
*Since the adrenaline is still flowing, Boogaard vs. MacIntyre I and II weren't bad fights. Sure they were pre-ordained but they happened in the flow of play. Both battles featured too much clutching and grabbing for my tastes and too many helmet hits but it is about time we get to see a real heavyweight fight. That being said, neither battle compared to the Erskine/Boulton tussle in the Caps game.
*For all of us who dropped Alex Frolov in fantasy hockey, we just have to shrug. Two goals, two assists, five shots and +5. Dammit. Maybe Gabby makes all the difference, maybe Edmonton just sucks that bad. Personally I think the latter as it did not appear that the Rangers changed any of their tactics, it was just that all of them worked.
*Gabby's three goals marked the first hat trick at the Garden in nearly two years. I know this because I looked it up because damned my memory, I couldn't remember the last time I had seen one in person. And, unfortunately, I was wearing a hat that was too meaningful to me to throw (not that Versus would understand that). Fantastic moment after the game: a little girl talking through one of the photographer portholes to one of the ice crew guys asking if she could get her daddy's hat back.
*It was unfortunate that Magnus Paajarvi didn't dress, it would have been nice to see that young talent in person. Apparently people think that that Taylor Hall kid and that Jordan Eberle kid have some kind of ability but whatever they possess was easily suffocated by Marc Staal and Dan Girardi.
*Derek Stepan didn't face anything resembling a tough defender and played his best game in weeks. Hopefully it will be a confidence boost going forward for the youngster.
*Someone shoulda told Ole Twitchy Nik Khabibulin that playing puck hung over is a bad idea. The drunk driver seemed to give in to the headache after the melee, allowing three bad goals.
*It was very nice for Arty to score a goal - and a nice one at that - but please, someone teach him how to take a faceoff.
*Do you know why Boyle keeps scoring goals? It isn't necessarily because of his much-publicised skating lessons. It is because, finally, it appears Brian Boyle realizes he is Brian Boyle. He has broken his game waaaay down and is keeping things simple. See the net, shoot at the net, go to the net if the last step didn't work.
*Hank had better get well soon because Marty Biron is not particularly good. The first goal was not his fault - Matt Gilroy really should learn how to play defense one of these days - but the second was abominable. And it clearly got to him as he wiffed on a swing at the puck behind the net soonafter, resulting in a turnover. You can take the guy out of the Island(ers) but you can't take the Island(ers) out of the guy.
*Remember when Ales Hemsky was a world-class player? If so Oiler fans (if you are out there), you should remind him.
*And it's late - or early depending on how you look at it - so no Peepin' Foes for the Pens, sorry. Just know that that Crosby fellow is despicable but good, the Pens have scored no less than four goals in each of their last four games (while winning three of them) and the ice sucks in Pittsburgh.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Erik Christensen - three assists.
2-Alex Frolov - two goals and two assists.
1-Marian Gaborik - three goals and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Frolov - Did you see that goal he scored falling down at the end of the second period? It happened because he went to the front of the net, not the back of it.
2-Christy - Last season we saw flashes of the chemistry he had with Gabby and when you add in Frolov and face a team like Edmonton, it is a caustic mix that just results in goals. Christensen had his head up and made some great passes. He also had a takeaway that looked positively Datsyukian - it was that kind of highway robbery.
1-Gabby - Sure Khabby had given up long before Gaborik completed his trick but to see three goals by a Ranger (in one game) was just awesome. Gabby is one dangerous fella and he makes his magic look so easy ...