Wednesday, January 12, 2011
John Tortorella's catchword this season has been consistency and he has often gone off on how his team needs to strive for it. Well, the only consistency that we have seen is the regularity that the Rangers disappoint at home. After back-to-back stellar efforts in Dallas and St. Louis the Rangers returned to the Garden, played poorly and lost to Montreal 2-1.
In the first period the Blueshirts came out like gangbusters to open the first period, fell flat when they went on the power play and finished with a flourish. The second period saw the entire team go MIA and the third was all Montreal until the final minute. The Rangers played strong hockey for 125 minutes on the road and returned home to play about 12 to 15 in this one.
That is simply unacceptable and it can not continue if the team is to succeed this season. And if the team doesn't address it on Wednesday (if they can shovel the snow), then the NHL-best Canucks are going to destroy them on Thursday.
Notes on tonight:
*Welcome Wojotech. Wahtek. Woltoke. Voltok. Volek. Whatever the hell the new kid's name is, he has to learn how to put the puck into an empty net. That's not asking too much. Wolski showed more skill and was more involved than Frolov - the man he replaced - but the result was the same: no goals. But it was only his first game, no reason to go crazy.
*How crazy was it seeing Mats Zuccarello hitting Hal Gill? The kid jumped into the defender on the boards and still only came up to the logo on his chest. Hilarious. It was one of several great shifts by MZA, who is rapidly becoming a fan favourite as the Zoooooks rained down on the ice several times.
*No, Michal Rozsival was not missed. As happened earlier this season, Steve Eminger upped his game in the absence of the elder Czech. Eminger was fantastic. Yes, his gamble down the ice resulted in Pouliot's goal but Torts encourages defensive pinching and there were two other Rangers back who should have grabbed the Frenchman and threw him through the boards before he could get a shot off.
*Since we don't have Rozy to kick around anymore, my target will be Anisimov. He has great hands. He has a great shot. He barely uses either because he is too damned soft and doesn't have that killer instinct. Arty was stumbling around the crease completely lost when Wolski hit the post late in the third period. Add 15 pounds and some drive to this kid and you have a helluva player. Don't and you have this frustrating perimeter player who only excels at losing faceoffs.
*Now seriously, what does Tortorella have against Avery? Sean was all over the ice in the first period and then saw less and less in the second and third. Said it before, will say it again: all Avery does is make things happen. And Torts isn't putting Avery or his team in a position to achieve when he throws him on the ice alongside Drury and Weise.
*Drury was just atrocious, outside of the faceoff circle. He did hit the iron at one point but frankly he is just a poor shadow of the player he used to be. There is no questioning his effort but the guy who scored 37 goals in Buffalo to earn his enormous contract is gone. Hopefully someone this summer will convince him to give up the C to someone more deserving, someone with a future on the team.
*Dubi's goal was a thing of beauty, taking a nice pass off the boards from Hobey and skating around a sprawled Hal Gill before wristing the puck past Auld. Dubi's hands have just been incredible of late, having caught up to his speed. Let's hope he doesn't waste them on any kind of fighting any time soon.
*Speaking of such, has anyone missed Derek Boogaard at all? Didn't think so.
*Even if the Cloverfield monster was in the lineup, it wasn't like he would have done anything to PK Subban, even though the rookie Canadien deserved a beating. The dirty little overrated child had several cheap shots in the game, with the two most egregious being his cheap shot on Staal and his slew foot on Dubi. Then again, history dictates that slew footing Rangers is legal in MSG. Someone should do something on Saturday.
*I went to the game and only watched Rangers in 60. For those who watched the entire thing on MSG, you have my sympathies. After about 30 seconds I wanted to stuff a hockey sock down Joe Micheletti's throat, I can't imagine three hours. He has been on one horrible roll.
*Hank has three assists in three games, what's next? Is he going to pull a Hextall and score?
*Love those heritage sweaters.
*It is weird to say this but Brian Boyle should have been better. It is a testament to his play so far this season that that can be said but it is true. He lost 11 of 14 faceoffs and was invisible for most of the night.
*Damn do I hate the Mexican't. I didn't see Gomez once skate around in circles and take his teammates offsides, guess that part of his game is gone now that he isn't getting our money.
*Dale Weise had two shots. Derek Stepan had none. We can live with Step's defensive gaffes when he is being proactive and making things happen but he was clearly a passenger during tonight's ride. Consistency kiddo, consistency.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 36 saves.
2-Alex Auld - 25 saves.
1-Benoit Pouliot - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Auld - The Habs backup was beaten at least five times and yet he ended the night with a win against the team the unceremoniously dumped him for an Islander. More power to him.
2-Mathieu Darche - I'm with Keven Weekes on this one. On NHL tonight Weeksie pointed how involved Darche was all night and it was quite noticeable. Even though he is 34, Darche isn't a late bloomer - he has always been talented, having dominated the AHL - he is just in a perfect situation in Montreal.
1-Hank - Pouliot's pin-point shot aside, our goalie had himself a helluva game. Many will say that even the one softie was too many but the King bailed out his young guard several times and he gave the Rangers a good chance to win. It is not his fault they couldn't play 60 minutes and couldn't capitalize on chance after chance - the margin of error shouldn't be that slim, even with a young, talent team like ours.