Monday, April 18, 2011
R1, Game 3: No Sweep
As per always, this is not the place for sunshine, glitter and unicorns. The Rangers pulling out a 3-2 victory over Washington on Sunday in Game 3 is worth a quick smile but little else. They did not play particularly well and their opponents played far worse than they had in the previous two games.
Are you mad yet? You should be, but it shouldn't be at me for not tasting the rainbow. Be mad that John Tortorella still has no idea how to build cohesive lines. Be mad that John Tortorella still has no idea how to build a capable power play. Be mad that John Tortorella still has no idea how to motivate his team for 60 minutes.
Washington loosened up the fortress of shot-blocking and the tough checking that battered the Blueshirts over the first two games and yet this was the best the Rangers could do. It was enough on this afternoon to get the win and we should be pleased about that. Pleased? Yes. Happy? Eh. Satisfied? Absolutely not. It was incredibly saddening considering the glimpses of greatness we've seen earlier this season and it doesn't give any indication that they can pull out this series, much less go beyond it.
*10:33 of power play time - including a long five-on-three - and just one goal. One soft, soft goal. Utterly unacceptable. Bryan McCabe, the so-called power play savior when he was acquired, was atrocious. His thought process is as slow as his skating and he has proven that he is not the man-advantage answer. I understand that they haven't been prolific scorers this season but how has Torts completely ignored Prust and Avery when up a man? Both cause chaos when on the ice - something much needed when the power play is anything but. It is uncreative and lifeless, either setting up McCabe for his big shot (which has worked all of once) or Gaborik for ... well, I have no idea for what at this point.
*On the matter of power plays, the officiating crew for this game were utter failures. The level of "discipline" harkened back to the first season out of the lockout when most physical contact was discouraged. Not to mention their tendency to be in the way, the long review on a simple call and the waste of time that was finding a replacement official when one went down. Apparently 80 years of a single referee wasn't enough proof that they could go on minus the extra stripes.
*Of course, one of the highlights of the game was when a linesman decided to posture and toss Brian Boyle from the dot. Sean Avery stepped in, won the draw and drew a huge ovation.
*Did Boyle really have nine shots on goal? Really?
*Nice of Chris Drury to go for a line change while Washington was on the offensive with a minute left in the second period. His ill-timed abandonment of the Ranger end cost the team a goal - for the second game in a row. And he is the captain.
*Anyone else think that Derek Stepan may have hit the wall? The kid has been stellar at times this season but he just doesn't seem to have that extra gear left.
*Any idea of why Unkie Bruce limited the ice time of Matt Hendricks, Matt Bradley and Jason Chimera? Their most effective unit - especially in a cluttered mess like this match - saw less than 10 minutes.
*Watching Brandon Dubinsky's goal again and again makes it less and less impressive. First Nicklas Backstrom simply gives up the battle on the boards. Gives up and skates away. Then no Capital bothers to play the body, giving him a free lane to the net. And finally, he never really shot the puck. His momentum, combined with Alzner's stick check, popped the puck in the air and luck bounced it off of Alzner's shoulder and in. Dubi's ability went on the IR when Cally did so let's hope that this bit of good fortune can bring it back to good health.
*Ovechkin nearly managed to sweep the puck out on the play but his most impressive shift came after he came out of the penalty box in the second period. The Caps were still shorthanded and Ovie picked off a pass from a blind Mr. Softie. He then headed up ice to get the Rangers to chase, curled back into the Caps end and fired the puck down towards Hank. A perfect penalty killing play, by one of the best offensive players in the world.
*We (rightfully) have railed on Gaborik for not scoring but credit must be given when due. Gabby was planted in front of Neuvirth, drawing Alzner to him. Seeing as Carlson chased Dubi out of position, Gabby's move allowed Prospal to sit in the corner wide open to bang home Staal's rebound.
*Still unsure how Hank was named the top star of a game where he gave up two goals on 25 shots. Neither one was his fault but he hardly had to be as heroic of he often has been. Neuvirth made more saves but lost his consideration by allowing Softie's softie.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Vinny Prospal - one goal.
2-Brandon Dubinsky - one goal and one assist.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 23 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Dubi - Hey, a little luck goes a long way.
2-Marc Staal - Solid play on both sides of the ice, with his big shot to set up Prospal's goal and his regular hard work in front of Hank.
1-Ovechkin - We can boo Ovie all we like, shift after shift, but that doesn't stop him from being one incredible hockey player.