Monday, December 13, 2010
18-13-1: Life After Death Experience?
Jet lag is a bitch. And you know what? I'm quite thankful for it.
Yesterday I flew home from Sweden and essentially went right to the Garden for the Ranger game. After the Blueshirts beat the Capitals 7-0, I figured the flight must have gone down in the Atlantic. There was no way they won that game, the way they won that game. Just no way. I was surrounded by good friends and had an all-around delightful time. Despite what many think, I'm not a horrible person, maybe I was rewarded for a good life with a final hallucination. The proverbial white light.
But then I thought about it, 'what, even in my last moments I can't see the Rangers win the Stanley Cup?' But then I thought again that that was entirely plausible too as there is no way in heaven or on earth that this team is capable of winning the Cup. And it wasn't until waking today with a severe case of jet lag that I realized that the game really happened or this is hell. Seeing as the Isles and Devils still suck, it can't be hell so the jet lag proves that the Rangers did, indeed, beat the Capitals 7-0 last night.
As it is so many hours after the event, and I have yet to see the replay, I will keep this pretty quick:
*There are few greater individual achievements in my book than a Gordie Howe Hat Trick and Dubi grabbed the third of his NHL career. Granted, the fight was after a perfectly legal, solid hip check but it was against Alexander Ovechkin so that made it ok considering all of the liberties the superstar usually takes. And Dubinsky, for once, didn't lose the fight, which made it even better.
*The other two fights were quick scraps against the same guy, Washington's lightweight Matt Hendricks. Mike Sauer lost again, but Sean Avery fared better than usual. The only issue that should be addressed is Avery's penchant for late punches after the players end up on the ice. Avery saw just over seven minutes of action and yet had his name chanted twice by the building.
*Brandon Prust didn't get to fight - his tussle was quickly broken up - but that didn't stop him from having an outstanding game. The forechecking and physicality that he and Ryan Callahan bring are huge reasons for the Rangers success. All too often the team sits back and allows the opponents to press the action but these two, in particular, push back. Torts trusts both to play in all situations and they have rewarded that trust with delightful play. Love it.
*Hahaha, Poti you suck.
*There was a pretty good crowd in the building, with far less Cap fans than usual. We don't need Dancing Larry, we don't need a dozen Potvin Sucks chants and we definitely don't need that horrific music selection and idiot gimmicks. One of the Blue Crew cheerleaders came up and tried to get my section to wave their hands around like idiots to battle another section. I observed that we were at the hockey game and not the circus. All of the season ticket holders refrained from acting like fools and we 'lost' the battle of which section would look stupider. Thankfully.
*Wouldn't it have been great if the Garden staff played a Caribbean ditty heavy on the bongos when Alex Semin started shoving in a scrum?
*Sure glad the Caps traded the mercurial Tomas Fleischmann for Scott Hannan, as the Rangers were able to take advantage of his many shortcomings. In fact, the Rangers did very well to use the Capitals to score as what, five? of the goals came off screens or deflections off Cap players? The Blueshirts simply shot the puck, they didn't try to do too much fancy nonsense and it paid off. A blue collar, north-south game will be - and has been - the recipe for success. When they get away from it they lose so what will it take for the team to stick with it? I don't know.
*It wouldn't be me if I didn't point out some of the team's shortcomings. The team still sucked in the faceoff circle, losing 32 of 56 draws - despite going 7-0 when Washington had rookie Marcus Johansson at the dot. Alex Frolov is goodfornothing, Mr. Softie the Backstabber doesn't have the drive to be a good player, Eminger's play continues to deteriorate as Rozy gets more of his ice time and MDZ should be back in the press box (or in Hartford preferably). The power play went 1-3; it was nice that the unit scored but during the other two man advantages the Rangers didn't get a single shot off.
*Ovechkin without a beard looks weird.
*Many folks around me felt that Ryan Callahan deserved a star for his two goals and the ton of hits he had but there were three better candidates. Cally's importance and ability can not be understated but, with a number of players having great performances, he didn't make the stars in the PHW or my eyes.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Brandon Dubinsky - one goal, one assist and +4.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 31 saves.
1-Marc Staal - one goal, one assist and +3.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - Hank's glove save was awesome but there weren't that many great saves needed. He played simple, solid puck and didn't give up a softie. He was beat four times - three within moments of each other - but thankfully the iron was there to bail him out. But that glove save was pretty damned impressive.
2-Dubi - Gordie Howe Hatty. Said it for years now: Dubinsky can be as big of a impact player as Jason Arnott was for the Cup-winning Devils, a combination of size, skill, determination and physicality. Games like this prove it.
1-Staal - Not only did the d-man score that sexy shorthanded goal and set up Gabby's power play tally but he shut down Ovechkin. There is something about playing against Captain Caveman that brings out the best in Staal and it is so fun to see.