Sunday, February 27, 2011
33-27-4: Low Voltage
For the third time in the last month and a half the Rangers returned to the Garden after winning two fantastic road games by losing in disappointing fashion. Today's sadness comes from a limp 2-1 loss to the Lightning.
The Rangers popgun attack attempted 49 shots but had 15 of them blocked and they missed the net completely 11 times. Plenty of credit goes to Guy Boucher for getting his team to play a great road game but the Blueshirts certainly could have been better. They started the game seemingly hung over (no surprise) and they got their attack going just a little too late. But even though we have heard that tale told before, it just doesn't feel like the same old story. They did a lot of good things against a really good opponent so this could become one of those positive losses that the team can learn from and build off of.
We can only hope.
*Bryan McCabe made his debut and in his first shift he showed he was better than Del Zotto by keeping the puck inside the Tampa zone. McCabe held the blue line again later on, he was decisive with the puck and wasn't a detriment defensively. While I still question how he can help these kids win as he is a career loser, he did have a nice start on Broadway. Enjoy the bus league MDZ.
*Granted, McCabe didn't score on the power play but, c'mon, who many Rangers ever do? Despite going with one unit entirely of forwards, they went 0-4 with four shots on goal. Ugh.
*Despite not getting a puck past Roloson during the last minute flurry, how can you not be impressed with the Rangers winning faceoff after faceoff to get those pucks? It was shocking, it was awesome.
*The Ranger defense held Steve Stamkos without a shot on goal. That is just impressive work. Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, Tampa has a few more goal scorers on their roster and it was all but impossible for Hank to stop the two blistering one-timers that beat him.
*The second one - which came on the 5-on-3 - came from a rare positioning mistake. Callahan and Dubinsky stood side-by-side just a few feet away from each other, leaving shooting lanes open all over the ice. St. Louis is too good and he easily found Vinny04 open. Seeing as Captain Cally and Dubi have been so solid this season when a man down, it is hard to wring them out over this one.
*It was Kids Day, which meant the Garden was full of rugrats thinking they were on Romper Room or something. While they were annoying, it is only good for the game to get the next wave of fans to witness the sport in person.
*Kind of funny that on Kids Day the Rangers honoured a True Blue fan who turned 100 years old. The little old lady received a roaring ovation and clearly teared up. Very sweet.
*If Dubi doesn't hit the post in the last minute of the first period, does Tampa end up winning this one? And, having watched the replay multiple times, it was a great blocker save by Roloson that got enough of the puck to deflect it onto the iron. Damn guy always does well against us.
*Four of Brandon Prust's 10 goals this season have been shorthanded. Today's tally came from crashing the net and, while Rolo may have had some cause to complain, it was a good goal. To top it off, I finally got my Prust jersey before the first period and ran across him after the game so I got it signed too! Very gracious guy - taking pictures and signing for everyone, even after a loss.
*Sure the officiating was poor (just saw the Dubi "interference", what a joke) but the Rangers did themselves no favours. There was no excuse for Boyle's puck out of play penalty. Boyle, by the way, had one of his worst games this season.
*For once it is impossible to rail at Tortorella for benching Avery as he certainly seemed to be a step behind from the start. Why Kris Newbury was also benched is beyond me.
*Did Wojtek Wolski play? Couldn't tell. That makes two games of invisibility after his starring role in Carolina. Erik Christensen came through against the Caps but, while he went 12-2 in faceoffs, only attempted one shot all game. Tampa played tough D but even Arty made the effort to get the puck on net ...
PHW Three Stars
3-Brandon Prust - one goal.
2-Vincent Lecavalier - one goal.
1-Martin St. Louis - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Ryan McDonagh - Staal who? While the kid has a lot to learn, Torts leaned on him heavily and he held up well. McD skated eight minutes shorthanded and kept the Bolts away from Hank for most of the match.
2-Roloson - How a guy stays focused after having to stand around for the first 18, 19 minutes is beyond me. But Rolo did it and he came up big when he needed to in the final seconds.
1-St. Louis - We have to hope that Mats Zuccarello watches this game tape and follows in Marty's little footsteps because the undersized forward had a big impact, as he usually does. There is little reason why MZA can't become a St. Louis-type star - he has the skills.