"Ensemble number 32, entitled 'Omar Sharif', and modelled by Chiefs defenceman, Billy Charlebois, who hails from - if I can read the card here - Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan."The Ranger power play resembles the fashion show in Slap Shot. It is a comedy of errors that becomes an unmitigated disaster. They strut out onto the ice with the man advantage and just like that, the show is over. The players look uncomfortable for a while before whipping it out, wiggling it around and sending everybody in the audience - with the exception of Prospal's wife - runnin' for the exits. And at this point all Tortorella can do is slowly hang up the phone and be sad.
Ok, maybe it is not Prospal's wife sticking around, but you get the reference (and if you don't, click here, NSFW language). We've seen it all season and we saw it tonight in the team's 3-2 loss to Detroit. Now the key difference is that Slap Shot provides pure hilarity while the Ranger power play is providing pure heartbreak. How players with such ability are so incredibly incompetent is astounding. And they are justifying the idiots who yell "SHOOT IT!!!" incessantly every second the puck is in the offensive zone, which is almost as bad. To the best of my recollection, the majority of the team's 31 power play goals this season have came off the rush - not when they set things up. Once the team settles into the zone they are trying to make the right play, look for the right lane. You simply can't do that in the NHL anymore, the penalty killers are too good. Put a body at the top of the paint, throw the puck on the net and crash the crease. It's not rocket science. Endlessly cycling, passing and shooting from bad angles lead to turnovers, not goals. No one kills a Ranger power play better than the Rangers.
*Pavel Datsyuk is so very good. Why isn't he in the conversation when they talk about the top three players in the NHL? He and his team are among the class of the NHL, which is why losing to them is no shame. That being said, the Rangers beat themselves in this one with stupid mistakes and their inept power play.
*What would possess Brian Boyle to try to carry the puck off of the endboards, especially with Datsyuk lurking nearby?
*Mike Sauer and Ryan McDonagh were phenomenal. The Versus crew might have fawned over Staal and Girardi early but when Babcock used his last change to get his big guns away from our top pairing, the kids came through. Can't rave about their play enough. Had high hopes for Sauer this season and he has surpassed them; I didn't even think we would see McD in NY, what with Rozy around.
*Matt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto on the other hand ... blech. Hobey looked outclassed for much of the night and MDZ all but picked up his bus ticket to Hartford. Granted, MDZ didn't play much in the first period and made one or two simple defensive plays that surely will impress Torts when he watches the tape but the lasting memory you take away of MDZ in this game was him sliding helplessly across the ice on Miller's goal to make it 3-1. Connecticut will be good for him.
*Pierre McGuire asking if the Rangers miss Chris Drury is on par with the Versus producers asking if Matt Cooke is a dirty player - just a dumb question with an obvious answer. Losing less than 10 minutes a night of a mediocre fourth liner who can't score doesn't hurt anyone.
*Hockey adages say that the time a team is most vulnerable is the two minutes after they score a goal. Well, Detroit scored 1:55 after Derek Stepan tied the game at one. Ain't that a kick in the pants? And it came on such a horrible play too - the Rangers were chasing the puck around like a pack of seven year olds. Defense like that isn't going to cut it anywhere, much less in the NHL against an elite team.
*Is it me or did Nick Lidstrom look unimpressive? I mean, he was still good but he looked almost ordinary. Love Lidstrom - in my opinion one of the greatest to ever play the game - but he just ... I don't know, didn't look elite. And he got away with an awful cross check in full view of the referee. Pays to have a clean report card I guess.
*Mats Zuccarello had perhaps his worst game as a Ranger to date. Maybe it was the awe of playing against Zetterberg and Lidstrom or something but he did not play his game. Zook had no patience with the puck and went chasing after Red Wings to get hits - none of them earth shattering as most came after the Wing had dished away the puck.
*Who knew Ruslan Salei could still be a solid defenseman in the NHL?
*Sean Avery looked like the Sean Avery of old - constantly skating, pressuring the puck and drawing penalties. He was the best Ranger on the ice, unfortunately he simply couldn't score on Jimmy Howard. Had he capitalized on that breakaway it could have been a totally different game.
*Howard made a boatload of saves and yet not one of them was memorable. He was jumpy and left rebounds all over the ice that the Rangers simply didn't get to in time to score. Biron was steady yet again and can't be faulted for the goals against.
*Did Arty dress for this one? Couldn't tell.
*Gabby did and yet he was still ineffective. Now some of that is due to the Detroit defense but a player of his caliber should make some kind of impact. He had three shots on goal all night; Avery and Prospal had six apiece. But picking on the Slovak Slacker is like beating a dead horse at this point. He has yet to win the Rangers a game this season and they've managed 29 victories anyway. If he shows up, that's great. If not, so be it.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Jimmy Howard - 45 saves.
2-Jiri Hudler - one goal and one assist.
1-Pavel Datsyuk - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Howard - Sure the Rangers inflated his save total but he made those saves and he controlled the rebounds enough so they didn't cost him.
2-Avery - By far the best Ranger on the ice, yet again. Sure he embellished the first of the two high sticks he took but he had to if he was get the the call, seeing as Van Massenhoven turned a blind eye to several other infractions against him throughout the night.
1-Datsyuk - Dude is 'leet man, what can you say? And he didn't even pull out one of his insane dangles. You would probably have to go back to Frank Boucher to find a Ranger so smooth, so skilled on both sides of the ice and yet so clean.