Tuesday, April 5, 2011
43-32-5: Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!
What the hell happened in the last few minutes of tonight's game? That jackass Dancing Larry did his tired, lousy, old routine and the Rangers followed it by completing one of the most unlikeliest of comebacks to beat Boston 5-3.
At this point Boston must be used to blowing 3-0 leads but we sure as hell are not used to the Rangers being the team doing it to them (or anyone else). The Blueshirts have made a few miracles happen this season but on multiple occasions the Rocky-esque rally has fallen short in the end.
Tonight it didn't. It didn't against a team atop their division. It didn't against a team with a Vezina Trophy candidate in net. It didn't just two games after one of the most painful losses of the post-lockout era. The Rangers flipped a switch and started playing hockey the way they should. They stopped the fancy-shmancy garbage that resulted in turnover after turnover. They stopped the stick checking. They started playing puck the way they should, the way that wins them games.
This is not an overly talented hockey team. There are no Pavel Datsyuks to dangle through opposing defenses. There are no Pat Kanes to snipe. There are no Shea Webers to blast you into oblivion. There are a bunch of young, gutty grit guys who can defend their end and grind their way to goals. When they come to that realization - as they did tonight in the third period - well ... what a glorious hockey team they are.
This victory was Rocky-esque, just minus the physical punches. The Rangers sat back over the first period and half and let Boston dictate the action. They stood around, they circled, they dumped and didn't chase, they blew their own power plays and they literally passed directly to the Bruins four times. And then they woke up and started punching Zdeno Drago back.
*The Garden is getting to be a difficult place to go to. The powers that be are doing their best to make it uncomfortable by closing off valuable utilities - bathrooms, concessions - and making the already claustrophobic corridors even smaller. It is understandable that they want to get a jump on the renovations but, hey, there are still paying customers in the building and the Garden brass are doing them a disservice.
*How the hell can you not love Girardi and Cally? Both got knocks in the line of duty and did their damnedest to stay on the ice until it was safe to head to the bench.
*Cally's pass to Dubi on the game-tying goal and Marian Gaborik's feed to Mike Sauer were things of beauty but they were exactly the kind of pass that the Rangers had kept trying and failing at earlier in the evening (and against the Isles too). Behind-the-back blind passes are high risk, high reward and these just happened to work out. Very nicely, I must say.
*In keeping with my theory, the Rangers lost more faceoffs than they won and they won the game.
*Boston has every right to be furious with Tim Thomas because he should/could have stopped three of the four goals against (the fifth was an empty netter). Two were pucks that trickled through him (Prospal's first and Sauer's game winner) and the third was the flop job he gave on the play when Dubi scored.
*Saw Prospal's post-game quote on the crowd (Jesse has it over at his blogand understand where he is coming from - couldn't imagine 18,200 people booing me when I struggle through the early hours of work. But, that being said, no one is paying to see me work. And the booing was because the Blueshirts came out flat and lazy. Ranger fans respect effort and the team wasn't showing much. Being outshot 19-5 in your own building in a game that you have to get up for is unacceptable and, after witnessing this team suck so much on home ice this season we were well within our right to express our distaste.
*Astounding how Bryan McCabe could make a hugely impressive defensive play at one point and be an utter disaster the next. You would figure that a defenseman with as much experience as him would just be consistently good or bad by this point. He was certainly horrid on the power play, which went 0-4 but at this point that is to be expected. Beautiful rocket blasts like the one he scored in Philly appear to be the rare, rare exceptions.
*Amazing how reckless Patrice Bergeron plays considering his injury history.
*Speaking of reckless, only noticed Sean Avery once and it wasn't anything special. Didn't notice No. 2 pick Tyler Seguin at all.
*Ryan McDonagh was on the ice for all three Boston goals against. Ouch. Bad timing to look like a rookie.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Brandon Dubinsky - one goal.
2-Mike Sauer - one goal and one assist.
1-Vaclav Prospal - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3 -Sauer - Just the fact that the kid had the confidence to go deep in the zone to take the shot that trickled in as the game-winner speaks volumes. Sauer was pencilled in as a defense-only plugger this season and has been a pleasant surprise even for those of us who hoped for good things.
2-Marc Staal - In a 5-3 game with no power play goals, Staal played more than 25 minutes and ended up +4. That is quite impressive.
1-Wojtek Wolski - Wolski was like the rest of the Rangers, completely ineffective at the start and on the power play. But he did take the initial shot on the first Prospal goal and he made a great pass on the second one.