Sunday, January 16, 2011
26-17-3: All Hail King Henrik
In general, the Rangers have struggled in Montreal for 84 years so the 3-2 loss on Saturday night was no surprise. The fact that the Blueshirts came out flat is no surprise. The facts that they took bad penalties, had a terrible power play and rallied late to make it interesting are all not surprising. All are par for the course this season.
What stands out in this one was a moment in the second period. Henrik Lundqvist was completely under siege throughout the frame, playing some of the best hockey he has to date. Brandon Dubinsky - who played some of his worst hockey to date - was a step behind Max Pacioretty and shoved the Canadien forward into Henrik. Pacioretty was headed for the crease anyway, he was just helped along, and he bumped into the Ranger goaltender. Now this wasn't the biggest hit Hank has taken this season (that 'honour' probably is still Dion Phaneuf's) but Hank took exception and pounced on Pacioretty. He managed to fire off a big right before Gionta jumped on his back like a spider monkey. The video of it is here.
After watching his teammates seemingly suffer from strip club hangovers, Hank was mad as hell and he wasn't going to take it any more. He snapped. And all of a sudden the Rangers started skating. They started hitting and they got back into the game. It proved to be too little too late to win this battle but it should help the team win the war.
*The only Ranger aside from Hank to play all three periods was Sean Avery. If only Tortorella would give Avery some consistent linemates he can really make something happen. For all of the notorious antics (which are overblown if you ask me), Avery can skate as fast as anyone, he has a good pair of hands and has good instincts. Let him get a little consistency and see what happens...
*The addition of Wolski was a good one but tonight you saw just how easily it is for him to disappear. With Gaborik already on a milk carton, Tortorella needs to ensure the Polish kid stays involved.
*How sad is it that the Rangers drew a power play in the last minute of the game and you just knew that there was no chance that they would score? Why Gaborik was playing as the quarterback is beyond me.
*Having Friday off from practice clearly helped Prust/Feds/Boyle and they accounted for the first Ranger goal, with Boyle putting it in. But if only the big BC man was a better player he would have had another three. He had so many chances! Why can't anyone else work themselves into those scoring spots?
*Mats Zuccarello snuck into one in the third period and was able to score. Without a Hab draped on his back, MZA was able to bang home his own rebound to bring the boys in Blue back within one. His ice time was limited in the second period, showing that Tortorella is not quite confident in the Norwegian's play without the puck. But he is clearly making gains in that aspect of his game and it will be hard to pry him out of the lineup the rest of this season.
*Kris Newbury had a decent debut. He "fought" Travis Moen, jumping the former Duck and swinging around before falling. Newbury did some good things in the third period but having Dale Weise's big body around could perhaps have turned things around earlier.
*Matt Gilroy keeps improving, which is great to see. You have to wonder if it is born of a legitimate drive to improve or just his interest to earn another big money contract this summer. But, either way, it is helping the Rangers right now.
*Can MexiCan't Scott Gomez be any more classless? His childish berating of John Giannone during their intermission interview was completely unprofessional and unwarranted.
*Can Chris Drury be any more useless?
*Why does Joe Micheletti insist on pointing out the blatantly obvious?
*Will someone give Arty Anisimov a cheeseburger?
*Final note of the night before the stars: as you surely saw, the Flyers practiced on Saturday in Central Park. They followed in the footsteps of the Ottawa Senators, who did it last season. Two teams hold public practices in New York City and neither are the team that calls the city home. That is ridiculous and unfair and oh so typically Dolan. He keeps the players in their Westchester country club, likely because he sees no money to be made in having them practice out in the open. It is ridiculously near-sighted as a public practice would allow kids to get to see the Rangers up close and help build fans for life - you know, so later on when they have money they might actually spend it on the team.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Andrei Kostitsyn - one goal.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 38 saves.
1-James Wisniewski - two assists.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-PK Subban - As @livestrongray tweeted, "you can't spell punk without P and K." The arrogant little defenseman knew he had a target on his back and he played it up, distracting the Rangers and getting them to be undisciplined.
2-Roman Hamrlik - The first overall draft pick in 1992 never lived up to the superstar billing but has been a rock for the Habs. They lose Andrei Markov and Hamrlik has picked up the slack. Sure BJ Wisniewski has stepped in and helped out but Hamrlik plays big, tough minutes and makes few mistakes.
1-Hank - What can you say? The man is the King.