Friday, December 16, 2011
17-8-4: Listless in St. Louis
This season we have seen the Rangers grow an identity of a hard working, forechecking, tough young team. On Thursday night they played a hard working, forechecking, tough young team that worked harder, forchecked more and were grittier then they were. The Blueshirts were found lacking against the Blues to the tune of a 4-1 failure.
St. Louis worked the boards, battled their way into the trenches and made tough for the Rangers. The Rangers ... well, they didn't do any of that. They certainly didn't look like a team motivated to bounce back from another woeful lack of effort against another hard working, forechecking, tough young team in Dallas. Perhaps John Tortorella didn't curse at them enough in the locker room - guess we'll see during the next episode of 24/7.
*While a power play probably wouldn't have solved their woes, the Rangers simply did not earn a single one. When you swarm, when you press the action and you keep your feet moving you force the other team to play catch up and often that draws penalties. There was just one infraction in the game and it came to a Ranger defenseman who was scrambling around his own zone trying to keep up with the relentless Blues attack.
*Can't hang Hank for the goals against, the King was under siege and he got screwed by that bad hop off Girardi's goal. The King and his fellow Swede Carl Hagelin were the only ones to show up all night. Even Captain Cally looked off at times.
*No timely time out, no motivational fight by Prust, nothing.
*The Blueshirt blueliners were awful from one to six. Girardi was utterly victimized and McDonagh was bounced by Backes while Del Zaster, Stralman, Eminger and Woywitka were all caught waving their sticks at attackers rather than playing the body.
*Credit due to Del Zaster for his goal, it was purty. The kid simply had no desire to actually play defense in this game (why should this be any different then any other game) but his insistence on joining the attack paid off in a goal.
*Given the gritty role that Ruslan Fedotenko plays night in and night out it is hard to harass him but he has had several bad games in a row and this one was his worst of the year. Instead of everyone roaring against Erik Christensen, perhaps Feds should take a seat for a night to recharge and heal up what are surely some bad bruises. Sean Avery has the speed and willingness to grind to fill the Ukrainian's role and you can be assured that he won't give a halfhearted effort.
*Christensen was useless, as expected. No point in adding a shootout specialist if your team can't get to a shootout. Funny seeing him trying to pick a post-whistle fight and hide behind a ref in the third period. I believe that is called 'Pulling a Crosby.' Given the winter doldrums this team is heading into, taking this clown out and inserting Mike Rupp, while making the Feds/Avery swap could inject some life back into the boys. The Rangers have to do something soon, they won't want to ruin their Christmas ...
*Did you notice that the Scottrade Center had a proper organ? There was still some of the eardrum-piercing pop garbage but regularly they just let the organ release its simple, classic tunes. That's hockey.
*While that was pleasant to hear, nothing matched the sheer delight that was John Davidson back on a Ranger broadcast - music to my ears. What an utter delight - what a stark contrast to the caustic, incorrect imbecile who replaced him.
*Nice stat for the night - Derek Stepan won 10 of 14 faceoffs. That has been a major problem area for him so it was nice to see him win some draws.
*The laugh of the night was the empty net sequence with three minutes left in the third - it was just pure comedy and I, for one, was incredibly glad that former Devil Jamie Langenbrunner wasn't the one to finally capitalize.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Brian Elliott - 25 saves.
2-Alex Steen - one goal and one assist.
1-David Backes - no points.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Backes - A hard-working, hard-hitting, responsible captain with a scoring touch who was born in America? That sounds familiar ...
2-T.J. Oshie - No wonder the St. Louis fans love him so, he never stops and he hits everything that moves.
1-Steen - I remember rooting for his dad. I feel old.