Tuesday, December 6, 2011
The Rangers are playing the Flyers in the Winter Classic so perhaps to get ready for Philadelphia they have steadily taken on the attributes of that city's favourite son - Rocky Balboa. They regularly start poorly, get knocked around a bit and eventually decide to show up. When they are fighting back you wonder where that extra oomph was the rest of the bout. The last few times the Rangers let the other team land the first few blows they survived the deluge and rallied to win. On Monday night they waited until they trailed 3-0 but by then it was just too late to come all of the way back and they ultimately lost to the Leafs 4-2.
This never-say-die attitude really is great to see but the fact that Tortorella can't prepare them to start at the puck drop and he can't get them to play a full, consistent 60 minutes is cause for concern. A loss is a loss, it happens. But when a loss happens like this it is infuriating. The Rangers were worse than terrible for much of the night, and then they were a force in the final minutes. Where was that the rest of the game? There is no shame when you lose when you try your hardest. How many of the Rangers can say that they did on this night?
After Zach Johnson lost to Tiger Woods Sunday he said "I don't think that I lost the tournament, I think he won it." Tonight the Rangers lost the game, the Leafs did not win it. They were capable but the Blueshirts simply did not show up for 50 or so minutes. That is what is so bothersome.
*Beezer was back! Vanbiesbrouck got a warm ovation from the Garden Faithful when he was put up on the big board during a timeout. My all-time favourite Ranger. (I choose to ignore his tenure with the Isles, Devils and Flyers. Never happened. NEVER HAPPENED!) Loooooooooved Beezer when I was a kid, hell, I wanted to be him. Great to see him again.
*Why is it that the entire league nowadays fights after clean checks and yet the Rangers just skated away from Sloppy Seconds after he sent Sauer into the next time zone? It was a helluva hit - and it was clean - but what the hell? The team loses one of their best defensemen and no one did anything then or after Sauer was out, too worried about trying to come back after slacking off all night. You don't want to instigate a fight, fine - just take a run at one of their best players, eye for an eye. For all of the talk about the team having an identity this isn't a good characteristic to include.
*The three stars will be at the bottom - as per usual - but I had to address them here: how the hell was Arty named one of them? Aside from his goal, he was awful most of the game and he took utterly two inexcusable penalties. One of them resulted in Toronto's third goal and the other helped abort the late push for an equalizer. Times like this justify my decision to name my own top three.
*Anisimov's goal was the result of perhaps the best line change in Tortorella's tenure. He pulled Sean Avery off the ice once the Rangers gained the zone and his cover peeled off and turned back into the play, leaving the man who jumped on - Anisimov - wide open to skate in and score.
*Getting that goal was perhaps the only thing that could have justified Avery getting the hook. Btw Sean saw 7:32 of ice time and he was visible most every second of that. Fedotenko played 15 and he was only noticeable for getting beaten on the Connolly goal and for taking a bad penalty.
*My Brandon Prust stat has survived, as he dropped the gloves against (and got utterly destroyed by) Jay Rosehill at the 2:05 mark. That was not a good showing by our lone tough guy.
*Do you think linesmen Ryan Galloway and Derek Nansen thought we paid $60 a ticket to watch them work? There was what, five, six faceoffs where they tossed someone? And the dramatics when calling offsides, geez. Ridiculous. Stripes are best when invisible.
*No, Dave Steckel is not under my control and is not doing my bidding. First Crosby, then Del Zaster. Hey, I was as relieved as anyone to see the kid moving his leg afterwards, because it meant I could still rail on him. He hits to make the boards rattle, not to win the puck and 99% of the time the other team maintains possession. His passing is predictable and often off the mark. But it must be admitted that he was blameless in any of the three goals against on this night. And he did get yet another second assist ...
*Not often that I find fallacies in Captain Cally's play but how does he hit the top of the net above the glass when he was shooting five feet from the goal? Of anyone on this roster, he should realize he just needs to put the puck on net, especially in the final minutes when the team is trailing.
*Nice to see a kid dropping the ceremonial puck and shaking Cally's hand, instead of dissing him and heading home.
*Random but why the French version of Oh Canada? They don't speak French in Toronto, and the last time I was there they sang the English version before the games I saw.
*Liked seeing the white sweaters being used at the Garden again. The league should mandate that teams wear the coloured sweaters and the whites an equal amount at home - it would even help spur sales, which is all they care about anyway.
*When Derek Stepan scrambles, he skates right into quicksand making mistake after mistake. When he just puts his head down and battles, he is really is quite a revelation.
*Too many Leafs fans in our building.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Phil Kessel - two assists.
2-Artem Anisimov - one goal.
1-Joffrey Lupul - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Tyler Bozak - Kate Upton was impressed and she is impressive, so he gets some credit. Although, like Arty he took two awful penalties ... but man, Kate is hot ... what was I talking about?
2-Jonas Gustavsson - The Monster was hardly challenged early but he maintained his composure and stopped the Ranger rally late.
1-Lupul - He lurked around the Ranger net all night and he won a lot of faceoffs. And this guy was not good enough for the Anaheim Ducks, who have now lost 18 of 21.