There has been many a horror flick written where one of the good guys takes the murder down, turns to say something and then is gutted from behind. The stupid guy had a chance to put a final shot in the corpse but he just didn't finish the job. The Rangers are those good guys. All too often this season they have had opportunities to seal a victory only to allow the other team back in the game. Sometimes they still manage to cling to a win, sometimes they don't. Tonight's shootout loss to the Lightning was the latter.
After going ahead 2-1 the Blueshirts blew three third period power plays and allowed the Bolts to tie things up (shorthanded!!) and send the game to overtime and eventually the talent competition. The worst part is that they had nary an actual scoring chance during any of the three man advantages. The so-called skill players were lifeless, exhausted from going over the boards time and time again. Simply said, Tortorella burned them out. He let the third and fourth lines rot while watching his other guys go limp. At even strength they got pinned in their own end several times and still, Tortorella kept the forechecking of Mitchell and Prust and the speed of Hagelin and Avery collecting splinters. When he used every one in recent weeks, the team won games. When he shortened the bench, the team lost games.
It is clear that John Tortorella has trust issues and if he does not trust these players, he needs to have Sather replace them. You just can't run your top guys into the ground like this. The time where a team could roll two lines and still succeed ended with the lockout - which was right about the last time when Tortorella was successful. Since then his teams have missed the playoffs twice and lost in the first round four times. The way he is burning out the boys now there is no indication that this team will have a better fate.
*Ok, Arty. The kid scored a sexy goal and he celebrated. Big deal. If Alex Ovechkin can jump around like an idiot or pretend his stick is on fire then Arty can be exuberant for five seconds too. This isn't the No Fun League.
*But you know what? Vinny 04 was well within his right to take exception to the celebration. He is the Tampa captain and he decided he had to stand up for his team's honour. But for him not to get a single second of penalties is ridiculous, he clearly skated over to instigate a fight. And Dubi traded punches with Bergeron but according to the officiating crew that was not a fight but a double rough. And Arty got a double rough for being tossed around like a rag doll by a linesman after being jumped by Steve Downie, who jumped the bench and should have been ejected from the game. What is the point of having four officials when they still miss everything?
*HBO's cameras and microphones were everywhere, and they likely didn't miss anything. And that sound you hear is a producer orgasming, thanks to the kind of material he was given to work with from this game.
*Arty's goal came off of a great feed from Del Zaster. Had Arty not converted, we would have been swearing at DZ for having passed up a scoring opportunity two feet from the goal. But it worked out so credit due and credit given. On the other side of it, DZ tried to pick a fight with Dom Moore twice and was penalized for it both times. And he had nearly eight minutes of power play time (7:55 to be precise) - more than any other Ranger - and it amounted to absolutely nothing.
*Really wonder what it takes to turn the switch on for Gaborik. The Slovakian Slacker was handed chance after chance and he just couldn't finish against a goaltender who was lit up for five by the Islanders. THE ISLANDERS! (Thanks to Interface Eric for reminding me of that, bastard.)
*I apologize to everyone for getting my McDonagh Whale sweater signed prior to the game. I will no longer speak to the guys before the games, because I clearly mushed him. McD had his worst game of the season by far. He took a bad penalty, he had a bad turnover to Buggsy Malone for a goal against and he let Moore walk around him to score the equalizer. Without the rock that is Mike Sauer, McD has to be the same kind of pillar that Girardi is - no blatant mistakes. Girardi, btw, played 32 minutes - seeing as he saw 2:34 of it in the overtime, I think he should get the under on my over/under time of 31 minutes.
*Get well soon Sauer, get well soon Staal. Stralman and Woywitka clearly do not belong in the NHL. Both are too slow of skate and mind to keep up with the pace of the game.
*Moore got the headlines but another former Ranger deserves some recognition: Adam Hall. Hall won seven of nine faceoffs and had six minutes of solid penalty kill time. Hobey Gilroy still stinks, but he would be better than Stralman and/or Woywitka ... I blame Pavel Valentenko for not showing up in shape this season.
*Interesting stat - every Ranger aside from Hank attempted at least one shot. Cally paced the team with 12 but only five made it on net.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Ryan Malone - one goal.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 29 saves.
1-Dominic Moore - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Victor Hedman - No McDonagh-sized mistakes in his game.
2-Cally - While 28 minutes is far too much time for the Captain, he did not coast for a single second of it and even scored a goal.
1-Moore - Forget aboot it, he has Hank's number.