Friday, October 7, 2011
0-0-1: The Wrong Richards
Despite ridding himself of that accursed orange, Mike Richards continued to terrorize the Rangers, this time in Stockholm Friday night as he helped the Kings beat the Blueshirts 3-2 in overtime. Sadly, we would turn off Philadelphia games at least knowing that Brandon Dubinsky beat Richards up but this time Dubi was on his best behavior and he didn't take on the former Flyer captain. Damn. Richards had the game-tying goal and an assist on the game-winner while being his usually solid two-way self.
The other side of the coin was the Rangers' Richards, who was virtually useless outside of the faceoff circle. While he dominated at the dot, he didn't show any of the chemistry we hoped with Gaborik and received a charity point on Gabby's goal. He also botched a play to keep the puck deep in the L.A. zone with five minutes left in the third period and Richards scored seconds later on the other end.
It is way too early to call him a bust and too early get too angry at the loss but we watched the same Rangers play the same hockey that failed them last season. Richards was supposed to add a new dimension to the New York attack and he did not.
*I tweeted yesterday "that MDZ is on the roster is an utter franchise failure. Prospects, Sather, Torts, team docs." One game down and the statement holds true. He was a disaster in his own end and a nonfactor on the other side of the ice. Perhaps once Staal gets his head screwed back on right or Woywitka breaks in well or Bickel learns how to skate then MDZ will get sent back to the minors where he can learn how to play right.
*Tim Erixon, on the other hand, was pretty good - especially when you consider he had to cover up for Steve Eminger, who challenged MDZ as worst Ranger on the ice. The kid is smart, decisive and steady. His delay of game penalty was just bad luck for the puck going out of play.
*The other penalties were a mixed bag. Zuke's cross checking was a weak call (the guy was off balance and now the Norwegian is being fined for it?!? No contact hockey, here we come), Eminger and Boyle had theirs come because they were beaten on the plays and McDonagh's never happened. Mac actually had a helluva shift before the ghost call, which ultimately doomed the Rangers.
*If Mike Sauer was still battling a sore shoulder, I can't wait to see how he is at 100%. Rock solid. Between him, McDonagh, Girardi and Staal (when he gets back), the Blueshirts have a great top-4 on their blueline. Add in a maturing Erixon and a decent veteran No. 6 and the Rangers will have a great unit helping out Hank.
*Hank, as always, kept the Rangers in the game while the team in front of him made mistake after mistake. Henke is the king and the Swedish crowd deservedly worshipped him as such. They didn't match the lovefest that took place in Gothenburg last week but they did pull for their favourite son. No Hoppa Henke song though, which was saddening.
*Of course, they did cheer for him in their usual understated Swedish way. It was a pretty quiet audience mostly made up of Ranger fans and curious onlookers. There weren't many Kings supporters at all outside of The Royal Half and a half dozen female Kings season ticket holders that sat in my row. One had purple hair, another an Avery jersey. Yes, I got along with them well - diehard fans are diehard fans (except for Flyer fans, who are subhuman).
*The in-house camera caught several Swedish stars around the arena. Ulf Nilsson (Potvin Sucks!), Anders Hedberg, Mattias Norstrom, Markus Naslund and Kent Nilsson all made it onto the big screen at some point, with Kent getting the loudest ovation of them all.
*Zuke played alright; his linemates didn't do him any favours. Derek Stepan appeared a step slow all night and Wojtek Wolski was good for nothing aside from jabbing at the puck with his stick.
*Dubi needs to be moved back with Arty and Cally, so the other lines can work again. Step and Zuke need Fedotenko, Arty and Cally need Dubi. Considering that Gaborik and Richards are having their troubles, getting two solid lines for a mediocre one is a worthwhile deal.
*Mike F-ing Rupp skates almost as poorly as the late Derek Boogaard did.
*Ryan Callahan's goal was an awesome bad-angle snipe. The captain's persistance and battle level helped keep his team in the game.
*You know who could have helped with that, adding energy with a strong shift? Sean Avery.
*Aside from his staged fight, not sure where Prust was in this one. His partner Boyle looked big and slow.
*Seeing as the Rangers struggled to shut down Kopitar, Williams and Gagne tonight, just imagine what will happen tomorrow against Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan. *shudder* Ed. note: No Peepin' Foes for the Ducks, too tired tonight.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Ryan Callahan - one goal on 11 shots.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 27 saves.
1-Anze Kopitar - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cally - The only Ranger forward that came to play.
2-Kopitar - The Swedish-trained Slovenian is definitely one of the most underrated stars in the NHL.
1-Mike Richards - Such a dynamic player, it really isn't fair.