Friday, March 25, 2011
40-30-5: No Debating This Point
This post was going to be a highly sarcastic ode to the greatness that is the New York Rangers franchise for all of those who feel this space has been too sardonic this season. Well, that is completely unnecessary as the Rangers justified virtually every word that has been written here in their 2-1 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators.
Yes, the Rangers lost to the Ottawa Senators. And this was not like the two New Jersey losses to Ottawa that ended their magical run. The Devils went down swinging; the Rangers went through the motions. It was an atrocious exhibition of hockey and we are quite lucky that the Blueshirts were able to salvage a point out of it.
Why the Rangers decided to play two tight, grind-it-out games against two lottery pick teams, two teams that shouldn't be able to carry their jocks is beyond me. Both Florida and Ottawa were missing one of their major offensive weapons (Weiss and Alfredsson) and yet the Rangers let them dictate the pace. Yes, the Rangers had more control against the Panthers but they never pressed the advantage. And they seemed perfectly content to play for the point from the opening faceoff against Ottawa. The fans were listless as the team was lifeless and neither should have left the building feeling satisfied.
Onto the notes because time is tight for me this evening:
*Maybe there really is something wrong with Marc Staal because he cruised through the neutral zone instead of getting back into position. By the time he decided to go after Ryan Shannon it was too late and Butler's pass was on the mark. Of course, Staal made up for it later on with his falling feed to Brandon Prust but Staal has never let up before so seeing him coasting back was confusing at best. EDIT: I saw the jerseys wrong and thought it was Staal blowing the coverage, not Gaborik, who was the culprit. My mistake and apologies to Staalsie.
*Very happy to see Prust score. Really don't have much more to say on that. Yay Prust.
*Mike Sauer showed his age, taking himself off the ice in exchange for Zack Smith. Smith, a no-class kid with eight points in 46 games entering the night, is not worth a defenseman of his caliber and Sauer needs to learn that. And to do it when the Rangers were established in the Ottawa zone was just stupid.
*Had no idea Christensen was playing until he blew his shootout attempt. The ice looked poor, so why the Rangers all tried to handle the puck deep is beyond me. Zuccarello really needs to learn a new move for next season.
*Perhaps it was because Torts decided to keep Christy off the ice he went back to juggling lines, something that - of course - didn't work. Still not sure what Wojtek Wolski did to get two shifts late in the third and another in overtime.
*Wouldn't it be something if Gaborik started to earn his salary at some point? Because he hasn't for the majority of this season. The Slovakian Slacker has been average at best, padding his stats against poor opponents.
*It wasn't surprising that Erik Karlsson scored the shootout winner considering that the kid probably grew up watching Hank play back in Sweden.
*Nice little scrum with 1:40 left in the third but where was that kind of emotion the rest of the night? It might have been nice to have someone around to spark the team, Sean Avery perhaps ... ?
*Just saw the stats, Derek Stepan lost 11 of 13 faceoffs. How is that even possible?
*Has there been a single game in the Garden when the puck didn't ring off the iron at least once, if not twice?
*Chris Neil wears an A for Ottawa. That is just so far beyond ridiculous. Could you imagine Pittsburgh giving an A to Matt Cooke? Oh, wait ...
*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 29 saves.
2-Erik Karlsson - shootout goal.
1-Craig Anderson - 29 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Anderson - Anderson didn't have any Ice Girls to distract him, so he played a pretty solid game - not that he was particularly tested. When he was with Colorado this season he would singlehandedly lose games for the Aves so this was an interesting surprise.
2-Nick Foligno - I remember watching his old man play and, in Mike's later years he wasn't flashy but he got the job done. Like father, like son.
1-Karlsson - The kid played a ton of minutes, moved the puck well and jumped into the attack. And, oh yeah, he was the only one to score in the skill competition.