Friday, December 23, 2011
20-8-4: Beating The Isles Is Always Awesome
You know, defeating the Islanders never gets old. The latest edition of the rivalry saw the Blueshirts beat the Fishermen 4-2 at the Garden Thursday night.
It was not a convincing victory but it was a victory nonetheless. The Rangers beat a rival, they earned two points and they didn't lose anyone to injury. There wasn't the usual battle that the Islanders bring, leaving the team in good shape to play the bumper game of the back-to-back tonight against Philly.
If they are to win that one, they will have to be better. After going up 3-1 against a clearly inferior team Thursday the Blueshirts took their feet off the gas and allowed the Isles to dictate play and get back within a goal. Had Jack Capuano been a good coach and had his team possessed more than one line of offense, the result likely would have been different.
*Seriously, what was Capuano doing pulling Nabby that early, with the puck not even close to the Blueshirts blueline?
*Ranger-killer Blake Comeau scored for Calgary against Detroit Thursday night. Haha.
*Always give credit where it is due and Del Zaster deserves some. He had a nice save behind Biron and several energetic shifts. DZ still has no idea to hit for puck possession but his positioning was better and he actually battled instead of floating around looking for hits. His goal was - like Dubinsky's - immensely savable by a capable goaltender but Nabby is just not capable anymore. Still, it is always nice to see the Rangers score.
*The Ranger power play went 0-3. They had six full minutes of man advantage time, Del Zaster was on for 5:24 of it and the unit managed three shots on goal. Three. The kid can jump into the attack all he wants during regular strength but he simply has no idea how to QB a power play.
*For all of the hype around the Brad Richard$ signing, could anyone have imagined that he would not be on the Rangers top line? He has been a nice addition to be sure but, man, has the Step-Arty-Gabby unit been good. It will be interesting to see if they can keep the chemistry going.
*Anton Stralman has been surprisingly solid, and the credit should go to Tortorella who has sheltered the Swede from tough assignments. For all of the mistakes Torts makes - and there are many - he has used Girardi's durability as a tool to help his patchwork defense survive so far.
*Stu Bickel appears to be standing at a crossroads. He could work on his skating and become a Beukeboom-type sturdy defenseman or continue to defy the Code and end up like Dale Purinton. His 'double-rough' against that minor league nobody Tim Wallace showed it quite clearly: Wallace came in from behind to jump Dubinsky, who was going at it with Hamonic in a scrum. Bickel pulled Wallace free from Dubi but then when Wallace went to fight honourably and take his visor and helmet off, Bickel just started throwing. I think he has the ability to take and hold Dylan McIlrath's spot until the kid gets here but it is up to him.
*His partner, Tim Erixon, did not look comfortable. There is definitely skill there but he is clearly not yet ready for prime time. I think another 10, 15 pounds of muscle would do him well.
*Tim's dad Jan was in attendance and it was incredibly disappointing how little of a reception he got when shown on the big board. He was such a favourite and such a hard worker for so long that the lukewarm reception only served to highlight how few diehards there were in the building. I know some folks that sold their tickets for this time of year to help pay for the rest of the campaign but Dolan has certainly priced many of the True Blue out of the building.
*There were surprisingly few Islander fans at MSG. I mean, there are few Islander fans in general but those bottom-feeders usually come out in better numbers. I heard that there was one fan fight over near 103 but that is it.
*Ruslan Fedotenko's hard work is appreciated but in the last few weeks, has he really added much? No points in his last nine games and he got just nine shifts for 5:32. Perhaps it would be best to give the soldier a few nights off to rest and recuperate.
*Feds' linemates Mike Rupp and Brandon Prust also saw Sean Avery-level ice time but let's hope that was just to keep them fresh for tonight.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Artem Anisimov - one assist.
2-Marty Biron - 24 saves.
1-Michael Del Zotto - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Gabby - The Slovak was an offensive threat throughout the game and his willingness to go to the net paid off in a goal. By the way - Arty took just four faceoffs in the game and lost two of them, but one of the wins was in the offensive zone. He pushed it forward, allowing him to get the puck across to Gabby in the slot.
2-Dubi - Thought Brandon played his best game of the season against the Devils and he followed it up with another strong effort all over. Always held the belief that he could be an Arnott-esque force but to do that he has to be physically involved, which he did these last two games.
1-Biron - Marty made several big stops while continuing his domination of the Islanders. Love it. have to admit he has been far better than expected - especially after Zug.