Monday, January 17, 2011
Just four days ago the Rangers took on the best team in the Western Conference and beat them in a thrilling game at the Garden. Tonight the Rangers took on the best team in the Eastern Conference and lost in a 3-2 game that was not nearly as close as the score indicated. It was a result that nearly mirrored that of the loss on Saturday night in Montreal: slow legs led to dumb penalties led to big deficit early, before a late press made it look respectable.
It was not respectable.
It was a failure by coach to get the team ready to play at puck drop. It was a failure by the captain to lead his teammates. It was a failure by the star scorer to do much of anything. Worst of all, it was a failure of the team to live by the Code. Losing to the best team in the conference is unfortunate but acceptable. Failing to live by the Code of the sport during that second period fracas is not.
The video is here, and you can see not one but two infractions. First Kris Newbury had the nerve to jump Matt Walker from behind, then Sean Avery doing his pathetic, unfortunate extra punches on a prone opponent. Newbury should never be allowed to wear a Blueshirt again, while Avery's routine is sure to come back to him - perhaps soon as Sloppy Seconds comes to town on Wednesday. It is easy to be an apologist for Avery as he adds so much to the team but at some point enough is enough and seeing him punching softie Matt Carle as he is pulling his best Claude Lemieux impression by turtling on the ice is enough. If it was Darcy Tucker that would be one thing, pacifist Matt Carle is another.
*As with the Fedotenko/Boyle/Prust line, Tortorella's overuse of Staal and Girardi could very well cost the team in the long run. Torts is leaning hard on these guys and the extra ice time is clearly wearing them down. There is no reason for Staal to play 28 minutes in a regular season game that is not that important. Ryan McDonagh, who Torts didn't trust enough to take some of that time, managed to be +2 in the loss.
*Three of the six goals that were scored against the Rangers in the last two games were directly Chris Drury's fault. As he did twice in Montreal, Dru was unable to cover his man and his man set up a goal. Dru dropped down low to slash a Flyer from behind, leaving Carle open at the point to take a shot that Jeff Carter tipped. Drury took just seven faceoffs - winning four of them - and missed two of the three shots he attempted. He isn't playing defensive hockey well, he isn't playing offensive hockey well, he isn't leading the team on the ice or the bench ... Someone should tell him that there is no shame in giving up the Captaincy for the good of the team - hell, a good captain should know that. Rod Brind'Amour did it in Carolina, Drury should do it here. And then it would be classy of him to pull a Naslund and simply go away (retire) but he is just 34 years old so the odds of that are slim.
*Sure Derek Stepan was the one stripped of the puck but Marty Biron should shoulder full responsibility for the game-winning goal. The entire building knew that Giroux was going to pass on the two-on-one and yet Biron somehow wasn't able to get across his crease to stop Mike Richards' shot.
*Gaborik, well, he was benched for a portion of the game, something that has been a long time coming. As said here several times, Gabby never really returned from injury so perhaps the upcoming All-Star break will give him the time to re-find his form. By my count, the Ranger power play is 2-28 this year (nine games) and that largely the Slovak's fault.
*It was nice to see the Rangers show up for the third period for the second straight night but, let's face it, both the Habs and the Flyers took their feet off the gas. It is hard to be heartened at the Ranger effort when the opponent is not bothering to play their best.
*When the Flyers were playing their best they really looked like a team that will contend for the Cup. Ugh.
*How stupid were those part-time, weekend Ranger fans? The Garden had several "Flyers Suck!" chants in the third period ... while the Flyers were winning. If they suck, what do the Rangers do?
*And I'm pretty sure it was a hockey game, so why the hell would the Garden staff feel the need to announce how a football team is doing? And a New Jersey team to boot. Listen, if people really cared about that, they should have gone to the damned game. We can't get decent replays of what happens on the ice but we can get highlights of some bullshit football game. Ridiculous.
*The Rangers took three hooking penalties over the course of the evening, showing that the team simply couldn't skate with the Flyers. If they could, or if they were smart enough to be positioned well enough not to have to, they wouldn't be forced to lay the lumber like that.
*The Rangers had trouble holding the offensive zone blue line and easily gave away the defensive zone blue line. We are rebuilding with youth so we have to forgive their mistakes but Hobey Gilroy being unable to keep the puck in the Flyer end three times was just ridiculous. And the Blueshirts never made Philly earn their way into the Ranger end. The Flyers cruised through the neutral zone and over the blueline with ease, which is not good. Not good at all.
*I'm still not sure how Meszaros' mugging of Arty Anisimov was just a hook and not a penalty shot.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Matt Carle - two assists.
2-Derek Stepan - one goal and one assist.
1-Ville Leino - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Brian Boucher - Sure Boucher pulled a Leighton and allowed a horrid low short-side shot to beat him but Boosh made 34 saves on the night and was all that kept the Rangers from equalizing as the skaters in front of him slowed in the final period.
2-Mike Richards - Imagine that, the captain of the team contributing in a big way.
1-Kimmo Timonen - Amazing how quietly he goes about his business - kinda like Teppo Numminen did so maybe it is a Finnish thing. Timo played 25:24, five minutes of PP, four of PK. He blocked five shots, had two takeaways, three hits and took three shots (one that went on net).