Wednesday, January 18, 2012
29-11-4: Saw This Story Before
It is nice to see other teams have the same trouble with playing a full 60 the way the Rangers do. For the second straight game Nashville played for just one period but this time the result did not go in their favour. The Preds scored three goals in the first period against the Isles Monday and cruised to a 3-1 win. Well, Tuesday they faced a real franchise and found Henrik Lundqvist more than up to the challenge in the first period. Hank held tough and Preds retracted their claws the rest of the way, gifting the Rangers a 3-0 win.
The Blueshirts seem to be in a little cycle - they played terribly against Ottawa and bounced back against a tired and largely uninterested Toronto team. Then they played terrible against Montreal and bounced back against a tired and largely uninterested Nashville team. Where the Rangers amped up their checking to wear down the Leafs early, they just let the Preds punch themselves out before going on to the win.
We just have to hope that they can break the cycle and crush the injury-ravaged Pens on Thursday.
*Very interesting that the Predators decided to start Rinne against the Isles and Lindback - he of the .893 save percentage - against the Rangers. They put their starter in to get the 'guaranteed' points while playing the backup in the game with more of a dubious outcome. Plenty of teams do that - Carolina did it last year for one - and it showed that the Ranger reputation has grown.
*Most of the Ranger success this season can be attributed to Henrik Lundqvist and yet again the Rangers stood by when their goaltender got ran. Marty Erat hit the King and no one did anything other than offer some (likely) harsh words. Erat was called for goaltender interference. The Blueshirts were up 2-0 and their power play is terrible, so there shouldn't have been any fear of negating the call - which ended up happening thanks to a poor high sticking call for what actually was Predator on Predator violence. Hank got hit a few times in Montreal too, and has taken plenty of contact this season. I thought having a goon on the team was supposed to discourage that kind of thing but so far Mike Rupp has only fought to justify his fellow neanderthals' careers. (Shocked he didn't take on Brian McGrattan, who took a few spins looking for a tussle.)
*Big, big fan of Carl Hagelin - as is well known - but he extended his goal drought to eight games. He got a charity assist on Girardi's fluke goal but he hasn't been able to put the puck in. His speed is tantalizing and he has worked hard to move up the lineup but perhaps it is time to put him back with John Mitchell full time, as the two worked quite well together. In fact, it was Hagelin's forecheck that set up the play that Mitch scored on.
*That defensive play Del Zaster made in the second period? Best play he has made the entire season. Credit definitely due and given. No credit for the other 23 mediocre minutes he played though ...
*For the Swiss out there, Roman Josi was nothing special. Sorry. I watched him and rookie Ryan Ellis closely and came away unimpressed. Both have talent, but neither have tapped it yet and it is hard to say if they will be able to in Nashville's system.
*Oh, Brad Richard$. He has to realize that his ex was one of the most unfunny, uninteresting people to contribute to the Daily Show ever and get over her already. Another sub-par performance by the big-money signing.
*Brian Boyle played a motivated game but still choked when he had a chance to score. Old school Ranger fans, help me out here - is Boyle indeed the biggest waste of size since Willie Huber?
*Dubi made his return and was largely silent. But the two or three times he did get involved (that blocked Weber shot for one) the Garden crowd was quick to recognize his contribution with Duuuuuuubbbbbbbbs. Ruslan Fedotenko did not receive the same recognition.
*Saw the Garden put tweets up from people claiming there was a playoff-like atmosphere and that the place was going crazy. Um, no. Was the building dead? Far from it. Was it electric? Not even close.
*Arty and Stuuuuu were both in the doghouse and for good reason. Poor Stu made a poor play early on that gave Nashville a good scoring chance and Arty was a whole lot of nothing yet again. Guess after playing him up and down the lineup Torts decided a benching might be a better motivator. Not so sure that will work with him but we will find out soon enough.
*There was a guy in my section (329) wearing a yellow Preds jersey with Mike Fisher's #12 and the Underwood nameplate. Ridiculous. I did not get a good picture, sorry, but I did yell "Carrie, sit the hell down" at one point.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Brandon Prust - Um, nothing.
2-Dan Girardi - one goal.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 27 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hagelin - Bork, bork, bork.
2-McDonagh - One of Mac's best performances in a month. He probably played a little too much but with Staal slowly rounding into form his minutes will go down and this experience will only help.
1-Hank - The King helped the Rangers survive the early onslaught and avoided allowing any soft goals.