Wednesday, March 2, 2011
33-28-4: Dying By The Sword
The Rangers identity that they worked so hard to form cost them yet another game tonight as they lost 3-2 in an important bout with Buffalo. The Blueshirts came out flat, trailed but hung tough and - despite a valiant effort - fell short.
Not a lot of time for me so I will just get into it:
*They dropped to 14-15-3 at home, 2-5-1 last eight at MSG. The team has been especially bad at home for the last two seasons, seemingly ever since they started adding youngsters to the lineup - right about when much was made about the young bachelors moving into Manhattan. Coincidence?
*The officiating was even worse than it was against Tampa. Now could that have been fallout from Tortorella's postgame comments? Certainly possible. Also possible was this awful officiating crew trying to show their families at home that they are really in the NHL by doing their best to make an impact on the game. Pathetic penalties, posturing in the faceoff circles and just generally getting in the way. What made it even worse was that for all of their atrociousness in the second period, the clowns swallowed their whistles in the third period. The Blueshirts were mugged on several occasions as they pressed for the equalizer and yet the zebras suddenly went blind. I rarely believe in blaming the stripes but when they are this bad, you just can't overlook their 'contribution.'
*Miller made several good saves but the Rangers made him look even better. Derek Stepan had a mostly empty net to shoot out late in the second period and he fired it right at the middle, the one spot Miller could get to. Aside from Christensen's goal that made it 2-1, Miller was able to see every shot. He may have choked in the Olympics (for which I will never forgive him), but the guy is normally a pretty good goaltender so if he can see the shot, he's probably gonna stop it.
*Bryan McCabe showed off his other side - the one Toronto fans were so well acquainted with - on the second Buffalo goal. McCabe couldn't clear the puck, followed the puck away from his man and couldn't get back in time to stop Gaustad from finding Boyes (who had gotten loose because Sauer looked to cover for his partner). McCabe may get a pass for his shooting but even that isn't that great. Well, the shooting is but the way his teammates are now deferring to him, constantly looking for that shot isn't. They did it for Jagr, they did it for Gaborik and now they are doing it for McCabe. It really isn't difficult for the opposition to counter when you know where the puck is going.
*Zuccarello, who has come under fire for underwhelming regulation play, was the best player in the final few minutes. The puck that he put past Miller (only to see it sit on the goal line) came after he won a faceoff and went to the net. The Norwegian also hit the post and had several good passes go past unexpecting teammates.
*Vinny Prospal had his worst game of the season. The kids are the ones who are supposed to be inconsistent and mistake-prone, what is his excuse?
*Just looked at the game-sheet: how does Brandon Dubinsky go without a single shot on goal?
*The Christensen goal was a lot like Pat Kane's Cup-winner last June - only the shooter knew it was in for several heartbeats.
*MSG has always been bad with showing replays but they were especially lacking in this one - doing us a supreme disservice.
*Too many Sabre fans.
*Love, love, love Captain Callahan's effort but it would be nice if he could capitalize on more of the chances he earns with that effort.
*Speaking of players who give it all, the Rangers would be well served to sit Brandon Prust for a game or two. Prust is clearly skating around favoring his bum shoulder and he even seemed to intentionally avoid getting involved in a scrum with Shaone Morrisonn. The guy's guts are quite admirable but it is time for him to show off some smarts and tell Torts he needs to take some time. He isn't effective enough at 75%.
*His former BFF on the ice Brian Boyle also hasn't been himself. The 6'7 Boyle played smaller than Zuccarello - a sharp contrast from Buffalo's big man Paul Gaustad.
*It is impressive what Anisimov can do when he isn't being checked. He tiptoed through the tulips to the slot to score his goal but was bounced around the rest of the night. Said it before, will say it again: just 15, 20 pounds of muscle would make a world of difference.
*Matt Gilroy had a good chance to score, which was the only time in the last two, three games where he was noticeable. Let's hope this is a starting point for Hobey.
*Sean Avery was bounced between lines yet again. As we have seen, Avery can be a game-breaker but he needs some kind of chemistry with his linemates so he stops going or causing offsides all of the time. (And he needs to be allowed to be Avery, without having to worry that doing so will result in immediate reprimand.)
*On the way home I heard that Talbot was sent down and Johnson was called up; leads me to believe that if Hank can get the win on Thursday, Chad will see the Sens on Friday. Sadly that's a big IF right about now.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Artem Anisimov - one goal.
2-Ryan Miller - 29 saves.
1-Jochen Hecht - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cally - Another gritty performance by the should-be Captain edges out MZA's late burst of effort.
2-Gaustad - He won faceoffs, he stood in front of Hank, he made a difference. Everything Boyle didn't do.
1-Miller - What the hell, give him credit for not allowing any soft goals.