Tuesday, December 27, 2011
22-8-4: Two Points
Monday night's match between the Rangers and the Islanders was largely lifeless and dull. The Blueshirts were outworked most of the night, pinned in their endzone time and time again and terrible with the man advantage. It was not pretty. But it was two points.
The Rangers managed to get just two pucks past Evgeni Nabokov, a guy who left all of his ability in San Jose. They barely challenged him, putting shot after shot after shot into the round logo on his chest. They didn't just play down to the level of their opponents, they played below it. It was not pretty. But it was two points.
*Henrik Lundqvist made his case for the Vezina and Hart trophies in this one. Hank was left utterly alone as the inept, exhausted players in front of him were steps slow covering the more-active Islanders. Torts inexplicably kept matching the Boyle line to the Tavares unit even though they couldn't keep up and were left standing around their own end. And yet the King came through with a shutout. All hail.
*Wouldn't be shocked to find out that Prust had re-injured his shoulder in that fight against Krys Barch a few weeks back. He has not been the same player he used to be, definitely not the guy who scored five shorties last season. It is hard to take his grit and determination out of the lineup but perhaps he needs a real break to fix his wing.
*No one kills Ranger power plays like the Rangers.
*Anton Stralman is +10 in his last six games, so clearly he is deserving of massive accolades. After all, everyone is heaping praise over that one-way Del Zaster of a defenseman who plays alongside him. DZ is just atrocious in his own end - I mean, at least he isn't passing directly to the opposition anymore but he continues to get beaten in footraces and board battles.
*That being said, as my buddy Eric pointed out, the Rangers were beaten in board battles all night long (all night).
*I do give Del Zaster credit where it is due and it is certainly due for his feed to Hagelin for the second Ranger goal. It was a fantastic give-and-go with Callahan that left the Swede open in the slot for the one-timer. A truly beautiful play. His schoolyard toe-drag earlier was ridiculous but the puck ended up in the net thanks to Cally, who crashed the net to get the rebound off of Nabby's chest.
*Disappointing crowd at the Garden. Multiple times over the night you could hear the players yelling from the upper reaches of the 300s. For a packed house, it was pretty dead in there ... at least until the fan fight down in 113. That Garden roared for that but, from my vantage point, it looked like a bout between Ranger fans - utterly unacceptable when there were so many idiots in orange around.
*The crowd did manage a pair of chants for Sean Avery though. After such a torpid display by the Blueshirts, we were begging for the sparkplug player - even up 2-0.
*Instead of Avery we had Mike Rupp lumbering around like Frankenstein's monster for eight minutes (more than Avery got in 10 of his 15 starts). Seeing Rupp too tired to move in the Ranger end during one Islander push was just pathetic. And he was a real deterrent out there, he really stopped Michael Haley from giving Bickel a black eye.
*Haley is one of the one-dimensional goons who has no place in the NHL. The neanderthal jumped Stu Bickel two minutes into the game, pounding the Ranger defenseman. The only possible cause I can imagine would be the Wallace incident where Bickel beat on him before he could get his visor off - but if that was the case, why didn't Wallace take care of business himself? It is not like he is some kind of skill player who is better served being on the ice than in the box. He is a coward, just like Haley. Guys like Haley just keep giving ammunition to the pacifists and we all will wake up one day with a fighting and checking-free NHL. Terrible. Four seconds of ice time, 17 minutes in penalties.
*I said 'checking-free' because these players are intentionally positioning themselves where if they get hit, there will be a penalty. Frans Neilsen did it several times, once with Ryan Callahan all over him. Neilsen faced the boards and kept his numbers straight back so the second there would be any contact, he could have drawn a boarding call. It is as much a disgrace to this game as Haley's animal antics.
*If that was the quality of the ice after one NBA game, we will be completely screwed for the rest of the season. The puck took several bad hops and there were guys tripping all over the place - although Nabby taking a tumble was chuckle-worthy.
*Hmm, rewatching the game right now and Sam just pointed out that McDonagh hasn't played a full season worth of games yet - a stat I pointed out the other day. That combined with his usage of my Prust stat leads me to believe that someone is ripping me off without giving credit ...
*PHW Three Stars
3-Michael Del Zotto - two assists.
2-Carl Hagelin - two goals.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 28 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Bork Bork Bork - Hagelin was in the right place at the right time to collect two more goals. Definitely had high hopes when he got called up and he has even surpassed those expectations.
2-Cally - The captain saw just 13 minutes of ice time (interestingly none on the PK) but he made them count. Callahan came to Girardi's aid after the defenseman was jumped when Tavares took that dive, and he collected assists on both Hagelin goals.
1-Hank - The King protected the Kingdom yet again. With the injuries to Staal and Sauer, there truly isn't another player in the entire league who has been more valuable to his team.