Sunday, January 2, 2011
22-14-3: Happy New Years
By a show of hands, how many of you believe that the Rangers missed the ball dropping because they headed to bed early the night before their game against the Lightning?
I don't see a single hand in the air so you - like I - believe that the team rang in the New Year in some form. Whether they overindulged or just regularly indulged is irrelevant, the result of their celebration showed on the ice as the team played quite poorly in their 2-1 overtime loss tonight. When you consider the circumstances - New Years libations in Florida - the point in the standings that the team escaped with looks a lot better than the game that it was earned in.
The game itself should and could be completely written off but let's face it, we don't work that way. It will recede into memory much faster should the team beat the Panthers tomorrow but until then, let's take a quick look at some notes:
*Having the Winter Classic in prime time isn't a bad idea but having other games going on is. It was quite difficult to concentrate on the Blueshirts while the world was keying on the Classic.
*Personally, I have always believed that the axiom that 'the clothes make the man' is nonsense - the man makes the man. Well, Henrik Lundqvist was the man, despite his Sipowicz-inspired attire (a tie on a short sleeved dress shirt). Hank was nothing short of outstanding. He made good glove saves, his positioning was perfect and he could hardly be faulted for his team's inability to score.
*Some credit is due to Cedrick Desjardins but not much. The rookie left a lot of open net to shoot at but the Rangers couldn't figure out how to get to it (here is a hint, RAISE THE PUCK). That being said, how can you not feel for the kid when he wins his second straight game - allowing just two goals on 63 shots over 120 minutes - and then gets the job he appears to earn taken away moments after the final buzzer as Stevie Y decided to trade for Dwayne Roloson. That has to be soul crushing.
*What did Sean Avery do last night to piss off John Tortorella? Did he bring his teammates to a late-night party full of strippers and booze? He must have done something because Torts limited him to six minutes of ice time. Avery had three shifts in the second period and two in the third while the team struggled to create offense and match Tampa's physicality.
*Mike Sauer and Matt Gilroy were on the ice for both of Tampa's goals. Neither were Sauer's fault as Gilroy pinched on Dana Tyrell's goal and then sprawled out on Nate Thompson's. Two unfortunate mistakes that should open the door for Del Zotto's return to the lineup, which is a shame. Torts has said that the team has to deal with the mistakes of the youth so to bench one for the other would be folly. He should bench Rozy, who was ineffective offensively yet again and mediocre defensively. There is no upside left in Rozsival, Gilroy could have a future.
*Brandon Prust has become a favourite of Ranger fans and deservedly so. But everyone should agree that he doesn't deserve more than 18 minutes of ice time, especially when the Rangers take just three penalties. If the team is going to keep Mats Zuccarello around then he deserves more minutes - preferably without the albatross that is Alex Frolov around his neck.
*The third member of that all-Euro line, Arty Anisimov, shows good offensive instincts - can't take that away from him. He simply is not strong enough to take advantage of them. When he goes into traffic he either loses the puck or gets pushed around. Arty achieved when he was paired with stronger players who would do the work in the trenches for him - Prust-Shelley and Dubi-Cally. When with them, he could stay on the outskirts and take advantage of the opportunities. With Frolov and MZA ... notsomuch.
*On the topic of underachieving Europeans, it was nice of Marian Gaborik to show up before the game ended. Unless that was his plan: do absolutely nothing for as long as possible until the other team believed he was incapable of doing anything. Mattias Ohlund didn't block the feed and Mike Lundin was more concerned about the pass behind the net than the man standing in front of it. Let's just hope that the goal kick starts something in the Slovak sniper because the rest of the team has been overachieving up to this point, it is about time the star does his job too.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Nate Thompson - one goal and one assist.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 31 saves.
1-Cedrick Desjardins - 34 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Adam Hall and Dominic Moore - Neither ex-Ranger put up any points but they terrorized the Rangers with their physical play and nonstop pressure.
2-Thompson - Damned Islander dirtbag is cut from the same blue collar mold and he had a goal, an assist and a 8-4 record in the faceoff circle.
1-Hank - Without Hank this game would have been over in the first period.