Saturday, December 18, 2010
20-14-1: All Good Things ...
The Ranger win streak came to a disappointing conclusion on Saturday afternoon as the Blueshirts were beaten by the Broad Street Bullies 4-1 down in Philly.
It was an impossible streak to maintain considering the opponents they faced while putting it together. They weren't facing a slumping side or a pair of middling teams featuring backup goaltenders. They faced the NHL leaders. Even with Chris Pronger out, the Philly roster is the strongest of the bunch and they dominated stretches of the game.
That isn't to say that the Rangers didn't have many chances to win, but that they have a good excuse for losing.
*Another excuse? The continued employment of Michal Rozsival and Michael Del Zotto. The pairing was nothing short of atrocious, directly accountable for the first three Philly goals. They both step up at inopportune times to add nothing to the play in the other end, they both abandon their positions and coverages and they both aren't physically strong enough to matter in the Ranger zone. That Torts keeps this pair of offensive defensemen (dual meaning completely intended) together is shocking considering how well both Eminger and Sauer have been through much of this season. Eminger's play has deteriorated since Rozy returned for injury, and thus when the Czech went down late in the second period it was only natural to pray for something serious. And, like most prayers, it was not answered.
*Although our prayers of seeing Dale Weise get a shot in the NHL finally came to fruition and he did not disappoint. Weise was physical, Weise went to the net, Weise nearly scored and Weise punched Dan Carcillo in the face. I would say that is a successful debut.
*Of course the fact that the 16th forward on the team - one that played less than seven minutes (4:26 through two periods) - was the best Ranger on the ice not named Lundqvist is just pathetic. Can you believe that the Marian Gaborik that dressed this afternoon once scored five goals in one game? The only way I can is when I accept that it came against the Rangers.
*But Gabby wasn't the only forward to disappear. In fact, most of the guys seemed more interested in watching the Flyers work than actually doing something about it. They gifted the blueline to them, they gave them space and the forecheck was lacking (aside from the Boyle-Prust-Feds line).
*Brandon Dubinsky is simply not being put in a position to succeed when stuck on a line with Arty Anisimov and Alex Frolov. But he isn't helping himself or his linemates when he can't win a faceoff if his life depended on it.
*Torts, of course, ended up desperate and juggled the lines around. It was an experiment that worked at least in one case: Frolov's second period shift alongside Stepan and Mr. Softie was quite possibly his best as a Ranger ... not like that is saying much but still. Frolov actually battled for the puck and ended up making a great feed to Step for the goal.
*If Mike Richards was on any other team in the NHL not in the Atlantic Division, he would be my favourite player. The guy is just outstanding in all areas of the ice.
*Why is it that when Hank plays in Philly (and most everywhere else, but especially Philly) he gets absolutely no help from his teammates? When his backup sees action there, the guys tighten up and don't leave players wide open on the doorstep (as they did twice in this one). He clearly wanted the first Zherdev goal back but it is hard to fault him for it. There was no way he was stopping Nodl or Leino and it was just bad luck on the second Z tally.
*Still miss you Bettsy!
*Wouldn't it have been nice to have had Fedor Tyutin around to hip check Nik Zherdev?
*With Brandon Prust playing this hard night after night, can you imagine how well he will play when he is actually healthy?
*PHW Three Stars
3-Andreas Nodl - one goal.
2-Kimmo Timonen - one assist.
1-Nikolay Zherdev - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Claude Giroux - Giroux is simply dangerous. He was a constant threat to score and yet didn't have a single shot on goal. He gifted Nodl the second goal by drawing the (incompetent) defenders and sliding a perfect pass to the open Austrian.
2-Richards - Did you see the pass to Zherdev on the first goal? 'Nuff said.
1-Zherdev - It must feel amazing for Z to score against the team that unceremoniously dropped him. That's for him, for us it sucks; hopefully next game someone snaps his shield in half. Only four more games against these guys ...