This is the way the streak endsThe Rangers' seven game run came to an end on Saturday night as they fell down before the mighty mites of Montreal. Le Bleu Blanc et Rouge beat the Blueshirts 4-0 in a game that wasn't nearly that close. Had the Habs had more skill and a coach who was more offensively inclined than Jacques Martin than this one could have been seven, eight, nine to zip.
This is the way the streak ends
This is the way the streak ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
There was no zip in the Ranger play. Hell, there wasn't much play in the Rangers play. While I have no first- or second-hand accounts of the team enjoying Montreal on Friday night, the squad that took the Bell Centre ice certainly looked like they were battling hangovers - how else can you account for the lack of life? What is it about playing in Quebec that turns a hard-working team into a stumbling, inept mess? Granted, the team that won their previous seven games was flawed (as I have continually pointed out) but it was nowhere near as bad as the one that fell flat on their faces tonight.
Whatever. There is just one more opportunity to be massacred in Montreal, which will be in mid-January - at least it isn't an obstacle in the annual last-ditch run to the playoffs. For now the Blueshirts have three days off before going on a scary three-games-in-four-nights run against tough teams. Let's hope they find better ways to spend the time than whatever they did before taking the ice tonight.
*It is easier to point out the players who did show up rather than rant about the ones that didn't - and they were all the usual suspects: Callahan, Prust, Avery and Sauer. And even they didn't come out of it clean as Cally had two good scoring chances and two terrible penalties. Prust provided no pressure on Price and got called for a joke of a penalty. Avery had a horrific turnover to the MexiCan't. And Sauer, well, I guess he was the best of the bunch.
*Unless Hank was injured - as his 'maintenance day' Friday may indicate - the decision to start Marty Biron was a mistake. Hank was hot, there would have been time for him to recover before the next game and Biron would have gotten a start anyway during next week's three-in-four run. Unless Torts plans on playing Hank in all three, which would be folly. But tonight Biron was a sieve, three of the four goals were stoppable and that one from the wing by Gionta was atrocious.
*He was not helped by having Michael Del Zaster in front of him, that is for sure. The kid was a colossal failure on this night. He was beaten on the Cole goal, he was out of position on the first Gionta goal and he turned over the puck on the second. Also he had four completely ineffective minutes of power play time - Anton Stralman needs to figure things out soon so he can get on the ice and take
*The Bell Centre, Hockey Night In Canada officiating in the third period was utterly woeful, to put it nicely. Andre Deveaux's boarding and roughing calls were both a joke and the Prust penalty was pulled from thin air. But there is no way Stephane Auger is going to piss off his home province or risk being embarrassed on national tv by allowing the Rangers to get physical. However, to pin the loss on the stripes is folly. The game was all-but-over before the third even started because of how the Rangers were skating.
*Multiple Rangers - including Avery and Stepan and Dubinsky - need to realize that they don't have to score on their open shots. While it would be nice to pick a corner and collect the glory, it is often better to just get the damned puck on net. Too many rushes ended up in the players peeling off and heading back as the shot missed the net, went around the boards and out of the Montreal end.
*It is hard to create anything offensively when the head coach insists you play dump and chase against a team that keeps three and four guys back all the time. The Rangers needed to show off their talent but instead they fell into the trap time and time again. When they got possession deep Montreal quickly double-teamed the puck carrier and forced a turnover. Not to mention that it seemed like the Blueshirts were hacking at the puck like it was a rat in the Florida Panthers locker room.
*The Habs have a defense that is even more inexperienced than the Rangers and yet Martin didn't feel the need to run P.K. Subban or Josh Gorges into the ground. Diaz (19), Emelin (11), St. Denis (2) and Weber (68) had a combined 100 NHL games under their belt starting the night but, still, no Canadien defender played more than 22:26. Dan Girardi played 28:31, Ryan McDonagh played 24:42.
*Why Tortorella refuses to let Deveaux get into any flow is beyond me. The Rangers were completely flat after the deflating Gionta goal slid under Biron in the second, so why not let the guy go out there and inject some energy? A fear of penalties? To point out the boarding call as a reason is ridiculous as it was a clean hit. The big man could have been a big help had he been allowed to play his game but instead he had to rein things in. You can't expect him to be any kind of factor when he has to skate for his job in the two shifts he gets per period.
*Really, why the hell were Micheletti and Rosen rambling throughout the pre-game tribute to the Montreal trainer? And Micheletti insisting that Biron stepped on 'a strap or something' when he simply missed the Gionta shot was just ridiculous.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Carey Price - 17 saves.
2-Erik Cole - one goal and one assist.
1-Brian Gionta - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cole - You could see why Eric Staal misses him so much in Carolina - the New York native never stops skating and is willing to get his nose dirty to make a play.
2-Scott Gomez - Do you know how painful it is to put him here? And yet he made two nice feeds that resulted in Gionta's goals.
1-Gionta - Amazing what happens when your hard-working captain has a little help.