Wednesday, January 25, 2012
31-12-4: Boring But Effective
On Tuesday night the Rangers defeated the Jets 3-0 in the last game before the All Star break.
It was a boring affair before a quiet crowd that - as someone said to me - seemed like it was watching the Rangers being blown out rather than winning. The only non-goal moment to spur any kind of reaction was the showing of the idiot kicker on a New Jersey-based NFL team on the big screen. Several times the crowd actually had to be shamed into chanting "Let's Go Rangers" by a small group of Winnipeg fans filling the silence with "Go, Jets, Go!"
But in everyone's defense, it is hard to get excited watching the grinding game that was presented to them. It was a lot like many of the other wins so far this season where the team stacks its own zone to keep the other team from scoring and hopes and prays for a mistake or a good bounce to get them a lead they can cling to. There is no killer instinct, just basic survival. Get the two points and get out. And that sucks to watch but is fine, for now. As the idiom goes (and has been repeated to me many a time), you have to first get to the playoffs before you can fight for the Cup. That being said, if the Blueshirts are cowering in front of a 10th place Winnipeg side without three of their top four offensive talents in January, what will happen in the second season against actual teams?
*The Rangers have to grind because their talent is far too unreliable. Marian Gaborik has three goals in his last 13 games - quieting that talk that he would reach 50 this season. Brad Richard$ snapped a seven game goal drought with his third period goal but it was just a simple shot thanks to the stellar set up by Cally. Stepan and Arty are both snakebitten. Hagelin is experiencing the ups and downs that go with being a rookie. Dubi is ... whatever. And, frankly, the power play sucks.
*The unit went 0-4 in this one without getting a sniff of a goal. As my buddy Matt pointed out, it simply kills all momentum. It is stagnant, predictable and inept. Winnipeg's guys were at least willing to shoot the puck into traffic while the Rangers kept trying to make a perfect pass. With an opposing player in the penalty box the Blueshirts should increase their pressure and instead they let their foot off the gas. Cycling is great when you are a telepathic, redheaded Swedish twin but not for the Rangers. Each guy seems to consider his options for an extra second, allowing the defenders to get over and set up in front of him. The few one-timers are telegraphed something fierce and are easily blocked away. No one kills Ranger power plays like the Rangers.
*Despite getting massive minutes with the man advantage Del Zaster is pointless in the last 13 and has just eight assists (six of which were secondary) and zero goals this season. Richard$ has one power play goal in his last 27 and Step sees second unit time and he doesn't have a single power play goal in his last 34.
*With all of them slacking off, at least the captain came through. Cally scored by lurking around the crease and then he pulled a Datsyuk with an amazing steal and dangle to set up Richard$. That. Was. AWESOME!
*Hopefully John Mitchell's goal ensured that Erik Christensen won't be seeing the Ranger lineup for the rest of his time under contract. Mitchell has been quite the revelation, to be sure, and he cost the team just a seventh round draft pick. Interesting note: do you know who Toronto picked in the seventh round of the 2005 draft? Anton Stralman.
*Used the word 'momentum' before, which brings me to Mike F-ing Rupp. What is going through his thick skull? For the second straight game he opened the door for the opposition by accepting an invitation to dance with a fellow neanderthal soon after the Rangers scored. And, as if the first tilt wasn't enough, Rupp went after Thorburn again for another pointless bout. Yu would think a veteran would have an understanding of when to fight and when not to but I guess getting punched in the head a lot takes its toll. But some of it is on Torts, who shouldn't put him out on the ice in the first place.
*It's an empty net guys, the puck should go inside it.
*Credit to Hank for playing on an expected day off but it wasn't like he was particularly challenged on his way to the shutout. Winnipeg hit the iron once and had one, maybe two other real scoring chances but that was it. Still nice to see the clean sheet.
*Because of the Knicks, Rangers in 60 just came on (at 3am). And Micheletti, paraphrasing what Marian Gaborik explained to him about Zdeno Chara said, "Even though we are country mates he pounds me every chance he gets." Somehow I doubt Gabby said that word for word. Ya never know, but I doubt it.
*It is remarkable how glaring the errors are that Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh make but it is likely a symptom of their success the rest of the time. So many thankless minutes in the trenches but when that one bad pass is made, wow do we see it.
*Marc Staal played just 12:06 - his lowest total since his return. Wonder if it was because of the match ups or because of some regression with his head or what. Having a full week off should be really good for him.
*PHW Three Stars
3-John Mitchell - one goal.
2-Ryan Callahan - one goal and one assist.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 22 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - Easy shutout by the King against a bunch of guys who barely belong in the NHL.
2-Richard$ - B-Rich dominated on faceoffs and finally snapped out of his post-Munn funk.
1-Cally - Cap' may not be playing on Sunday but Callahan has been an All Star for us to be sure.