Tuesday, December 28, 2010
21-14-2: A Sad Seven
Condemning one's self to little sleep and no shower facilities for several days in the name of hockey sounded a bit foolhearty to me but it wasn't just hockey - it was Rangers vs. the Islanders. Hate the Pens, hate the Flyers, hate the Devils ... loathe the Islanders. It is a deep-seated hatred that was ingrained over years of grade school abuse. So every victory has been a delight and the vindication that came with the sweep in '94 drew outright euphoria.
But after watching the Rangers annihilate the Islanders 7-2 on Monday night, there are few happy feelings. If anything there is an emptiness, a sense of melancholy.
How can you despise the current crop of orange and blue? Sure there are despicable players like Trevor Gillies but as a whole, you just have to feel bad for them. The Rangers beat up an exhausted team of mediocre AHL talent ... so what? It wasn't a gauge of ability, merely a exhibition in the Blueshirts ability to show up to work. They did. Yay. They didn't play particularly well in the least and they still scored seven goals, whoopa dee doo. I mean, sure past incarnations of this franchise would have played down to the Isles level, but it is hard to imagine any current Ranger, any NHL player playing that poorly - outside of Michal Rozsival.
So we take the two points and move on to the Devils on Wednesday. But let's face it, a repeat of tonight's performance will not be impressive as it will be expected. The question is this: has the bar been raised for the Rangers, or has it just been lowered for our atrocious enemies?
*The Rangers came out from their Christmas break lethargic and unimpressive. Despite outshooting the Isles in the first 18-12, they were lucky to be tied at two. But once the second period hit, the Blueshirts realized that shooting the puck directly at old man Roloson wasn't getting them anywhere so they mixed things up and started scoring. By the third period, Rolo needed the Rolaids as his team completely abandoned him and he finally looked every second of his 41 years.
*If MDZ was benched because of some sense of accountability, then he should be brought back to the lineup because of one. Rozsival is an outright liability and his continued presence hurts the team in the short term (goals against on a nightly basis) and in the long term (development of the youngsters). He has never won a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold or World Championship gold - why is his experience be so treasured when his abilities have never helped a team win?
*Alex Frolov averages 2:14 of power play time per game and saw nearly two minutes on the man advantage in this one. And yet he has no power play goals and just one power play assist. Perhaps it is time to try Prust, Avery or even Fedotenko on the unit - at least you know they will battle around the net.
*Totally random but I spotted Dru, Boyle and Girardi walking in Penn Station after the game, followed by MDZ and Prust - who were accompanied by a pair of young ladies. I said 'good win' and Dru shot me a nasty look. How could he know I dislike him so? Think he remembered my Redden sign? Haha. Ok, enough stalking talking.
*One of the Zambonis broke down right at the start of the second intermission. I hope the kid who was supposed to ride it will get another shot. That looks like fun; I wanna ride the Zamboni!
*There was a surprisingly solid crowd - not the sellout listed on the Game Summary but well over 10K. Amazingly there were numerous Islander fans as well but there weren't any fights that I saw; must be the holiday spirit.
*Oh, season ticket reps said that they had no plans to do anything for those who couldn't make it. They just put a note or complaint on the account and claimed that they may address it at a future date. Not give a ticket back for a future date but deal with the complaint at a future date. Stay classy Dolan.
*Maybe BJ Wisniewski was just rehearsing for his future career when he made that gesture at Avery earlier this season. Because he certainly did not look like someone who is capable of making money playing puck for much longer in this one. Had his shot late in the first not hit the post and gone in, it would have made it 3-1 Isles and a totally different game.
*Brian Boyle's short side goal was exactly the kind of softie that has plagued Henrik for years, so it was nice to see it scored for us rather than against. And Boyle had yet another big game - when he simplifies things he does so well because he constantly works hard. And hard work pays off, as Ruslan Fedotenko can attest to. Tank is older, slower and doesn't have the hands he once had but he keeps plugging and has been a delightful surprise of a training camp invite.
*Gillies vs Prust. What the hell?
*MZA had another solid performance but, as I said after his first NHL game, he needs to work on his play away from the puck. As a forward, you can't just stand around waiting for the play to come to you (unless you are Jaromir Jagr).
*Arty needs to work on most everything, but his strength - or lack thereof - is his biggest issue. Anisimov is consistently knocked off the puck, knocked to the ice or knocked away from scoring areas.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Brandon Dubinsky - one goal and one assist.
2-Brian Boyle - one goal and two assists.
1-Matt Gilroy - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Derek Stepan - The kid's confidence has finally gone up and it shows.
2-Boyle/Fed/Prust - A line that has remained together for more than five minutes? They must be good!
1-Hobey - The kid is definitely making a case to stay in the lineup, and it is about time.