Tuesday, January 25, 2011
29-19-3: Well, How About That?
Before puck drop I stopped by to say hello to the fine folks at Japer's Rink and said that they should enjoy the win as the Rangers mailed it in. Torts decided to let Del Zotto dress, to start Biron and let Brandon Prust make the call on whether he could play of not. Three very big strikes against the team.
Well, this ain't baseball and those didn't prove to be strikes as the Blueshirts beat the Capitals 2-1 after a wild shootout at the Phone Booth. The game wasn't a shootout - it was actually more of a shooting gallery - but it ended in one of the more entertaining skill competitions this season.
It seems like each time the Rangers find themselves under siege this season they find a way to win. It is shockingly delightful, but painfully ulcer-inducing at the same time. With few exceptions, Blueshirts are racking up points by the narrowest of margins and most of that success is coming away from the Garden. They return home tomorrow to face a Florida team far below them in the standings. The Rangers will have to replicate tonight's effort and polish off the Panthers before heading into the break where they can finally recuperate and reload.
Notes on tonight's win:
*Probably the biggest success to come out of his evening was the fact that no one else was injured. Thank goodness.
*Prust played despite all of his injuries and was his usual soldier self. Seeing how impressed his teammates are with his efforts, Prust should be rewarded with a letter - at least until Dubi returns. Compliments aside, Prust was partially to blame for the Washington goal. He had been covering Hendricks but dropped low to help McDonagh. The puck went up the wall, going past Kolarik to Hendricks, who crossed it. After Boyle committed to Hannan, Prust moved over Johansson but gave the Swede too much room. He seemed ready to block a shot, which opened up the middle of the ice, allowing Johansson to thread a pass to the open Hendricks for the redirection. Now Hendricks was free because Kolarik blew the coverage, but if Prust had closed he might have been able to break up the play.
*Back to the letter thing for a moment for today's Drury bashing. The captain earned as much ice time as three of the injury callups from Hartford - Newbury, Kolarik and Grachev - and was just as invisible as they were. He missed two shots (one from the slot), had another attempt blocked and lost five of eight faceoffs. And is making eight million dollars this year. Just sayin' ...
*Del Zotto calmed down a bit over the course of the game but wasn't particularly good. MDZ ran around like a chicken without a head chasing any Cap that came near him and, as per usual, wasn't good quarterbacking the power play. He is clearly a not-ready-for-prime-time player who needs more time in the bus league. Get well soon Girardi.
*If not for all of the injuries we wouldn't have had the delight of seeing Zuccarello and Wolski score in the shootout. The foreign born duo used essentially the same move but put the puck in opposite sides of the net. Wolski added a shot fake but both players included a sudden slowdown that threw off Washington's rookie goaltender. Both goals were beautiful but you have to wonder how much longer the move will work.
*I'm pretty sure I saw D.J. King on the ice for the Capitals during a power play. Now I advocated for Colton Orr to get a shot back in the day but back then, let's face it, we didn't have the talent that Washington has. Wonder what is up with them that they would resort to that.
*The Rangers decided to resort to Biron and the backup acquitted himself well with several old-school saves, including that sprawling pad stack in the first period. What would goalies be without a little luck as Biron managed to get juuuuuust enough of Johansson's shot three minutes into overtime to deflect it away from the post.
*On the subject of luck and deflections, the Rangers got both on the Gaborik goal. As most players will admit, it is the odd goal that hits off random body parts that can re-ignite a scoring touch so let's hope that the Maradona hand-of-god tally will set the slumping sniper straight.
*Arty scored the shootout winner, showing off his super-fast hands before beating Holtby. Too bad he can't do stuff like that when there are other players on the ice going after him.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Alexander Ovechkin - Probably just for being Alexander Ovechkin. No goals in four games against the Rangers and a bad miss in the shootout.
2-Martin Biron - 22 saves.
1-Marian Gaborik - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Michael Sauer - With Girardi out you would think that Tortorella would turn to Steve Eminger but he has finally seen what we have all season - Sauer is solid. The kid played big minutes and did a fantastic job. Hobey and McD also deserve accolades for good performances under pressure; Eminger babysat MDZ and the pairing was bailed out by Biron several times.
2-Matt Hendricks - Washington's Prust is getting better and better as the season goes on and was a big part of this game. He kept Avery in line, he helped kill penalties and he scored in regulation and the shootout.
1-Marc Staal - Where would we be without him? Thankfully we don't have to ponder that as he survived that awkward hit in Atlanta and showed fine form shutting down Ovie. It is nice to see his efforts this season are being honoured with a spot in the All Star Game but it is just a shame he can't take a vacation and rest. Tortorella leaned on him for 29 minutes tonight - how much time can he take before the wear and tear slows him down?