Wednesday, October 19, 2011
1-1-2: All Hail The King
If you didn't stay up to watch the Rangers play the Canucks tonight, then you missed one of the top-five performances in Henrik Lundqvist's stellar career. Given the number of times he has been outstanding, that is saying something. The King - relying on his superhuman reflexes, his ability to read plays, his great flexibility, his positioning, his rebound control and (honestly) a little bit of luck - was utterly stellar in what was a 40 save effort. He made stop after stop after stop and finally, blissfully his teammates responded and turned around a disastrous showing into a 4-0 victory over Vancouver.
The A that was added to Hank's sweater in Frolunda should be permanently affixed going forward. Not since Mark Messier in the early-90s have the Rangers responded to one of their teammates the way they did tonight. It takes a certain kind of greatness to motivate the troops the way Lundqvist did. His awesomeness shamed them into picking themselves up and proving that they are not just passengers. This is not just hyperbole, Hank was just that good.
It was the 11th time in his Ranger career that Hank stopped 40 or more shots. He did it three times last season and the Rangers won two (the third was the double OT loss to DC in the playoffs). But few of those games saw him under siege the way he was in this one - just one of them immediately comes to mind: the Philly game that ended the Ranger season two years back that the team eventually lost in the shootout. The ending was far, far better on this night.
*After last year's 1-0 win over the Canucks the Rangers went on a 3-8-1 run. They need do better than that after this win.
*Hank deserves every one of the accolades I laid upon him above but Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi deserve a bit of credit for stalwart performances. McD racked up a pretty goal and a suh-weet assist but he also collected three hits and three blocked shots. As a friend pointed out to me last season, we should be thankful Scott Gomez agreed to be traded to Montreal and we should be thankful the Habs were dumb enough to take him. Girardi played almost 29 minutes in front of Hank and his play allowed his partners to jump up into the play.
*John Tortorella is often (rightfully) raked along the coals in this space but he gets a small pat on the back for the way he sheltered Tim Erixon tonight. It would have been easy to leave the kid out there to fend for himself but the coach kept him away from the Sedins as much as he could. No reason to expose him to that at his age.
*Really Torts, what is the point of dressing Christensen? He shies away from any and all contact and is thus virtually useless. Is he playing just in case games go to a shootout?
*As I tweeted, "Chances of me yelling at Woywitka 'hey Redden, you SUCK!' multiple times this season? 100%" ... Woywitka's No. 6 sweater doesn't help his cause but his huge number of terrible plays sealed the deal. MSG's cameras caught Hank setting him straight so let's hope that he learned his lesson and the Redden slur won't be heard much in the future.
*Mike F-ing Rupp had been absolutely atrocious coming into this game but his shot to open the scoring was outstanding.
*Brandon Prust - two assists and two bad penalties. He is a great grinder but he has to be smarter.
*Dubinsky should also use his brain a bit more - fighting Kevin Bieksa was not wise. It is one thing to stand up for yourself, it is another to throw your life away when your team is up 3-0 with three minutes to go. And was that really a WWE 'suck it' motion to Bieksa as he skated off? Poor form.
*Michael Del Zaster needs to be sent to Hartford the second Staal and Sauer come back. He clearly has not learned a thing about playing defense. Given that he does have decent wheels, good ice sight on the offensive end and a penchant for hitting, perhaps he should get a shot at the LW slot alongside Richards and Gaborik ...
*Very touching pre-game tribute to Rick Rypien by Vancouver. Damn shame MSG didn't show the whole thing (I watched it streaming on the Canucks website). Hard to say if that was the worst thing on their broadcast tonight as Micheletti was his usual mistaken self and Bill Pidto's intermission highlight breaks were just woeful. BZZZZ!
*Love the Defending The Blue Line commercials but they come with a twinge of sadness as Boogaard was not around to take part in the taping. I hope that they are acknowledged when Boogey is honoured at the Garden next week.
*Kris Newbury did add a bit of the promised "jam" but he also lost a big defensive zone faceoff in the first period that nearly led to a Canuck goal. While there is still some sadness to see Zuke stuck in the bus league, there is simply no way in hell that Torts would have given him good minutes in a game like this (or in any other game, but that is something else).
*Fantasy hockey guru Dobber pointed out that Boyle's goal was his first in 27 games. What are the odds that the tally jump-starts a run like Boyler had at the start of last season?
*PHW Three Stars:
3-Brandon Prust - two assists.
2-Ryan McDonagh - one goal and one assist.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 40 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cally - The captain was ferocious on the forecheck and a big part of the penalty kill.
2-McD - A dynamic performance by the defenseman.
1-Hank - All Hail!