Wednesday, February 1, 2012
31-12-5: Terrible Return To Action
The Rangers played their first game after the All Star break and it was an utter failure. Ok, not an utter failure - they did escape with a point - but it was a pathetic display against a rival that does not bode well for the near future.
It was back-and-forth, entertaining hockey - which would be great except when you consider it was the supposed first place team against a shell of a hockey club without their top two centers and with a has-been goaltender. The Blueshirts blew three leads on their way to a 4-3 shootout loss to the Devils. How a team could fail so spectacularly after taking a few days off is astonishing and utterly disappointing. That being said, the Rangers need to shake this one off because if this is a sign of things to come they will be the pathetic ones clinging to a playoff positing instead of rightfully challenging for home ice.
Have to keep this short so right on to the Late Hits:
*John Tortorella put the Rangers behind the eight ball at the outset by starting his former Flyer goaltender against a team that his starter has truly starred against in recent years. There is a reason why Hank played every game against the Devils since 2006 but Torts thought he knew best and he blew it. The Blueshirts backup might have put together a decent performance against the 14th place Sabres - another of his former teams - but against the Devils he was made to look the fool. All three goals in regulation were immensely savable, with Biron getting clear looks at the shooters. And yet he blew it again and again and again. The Kovalchuk shootout goal is the only that is hard to blame him on, if only because Kovy has been world class in the skill competition and Biron once played for the Islanders. But there are no excuses for giving up a goal short side and two open shots from the slot. Atrocious.
*On the other side of the ice it was blatantly apparent that Mmmmmaaarrrtttyyyyy is done. Not that he was particularly good in his prime - I attribute all of those inflated numbers to systems and star defensemen - but the sister-in-law lover can hardly play. And the Rangers beat him just three times. He didn't make a single good save all night and his pathetic whale-rolling-around-in-the-surf display on the Brian Boyle goal was positively comical. Not to mention the fact that he gave up an open shot to Del Zaster of all people. Blissfully terrible.
*But as bad as he was Brad Richard$ still couldn't score against him. My guess is that Richard$ spent the time off listening to old Cure records and crying about Olivia leaving him. Because he surely didn't move on and get his head right - he was all but invisible. He lost faceoffs, he was a step slow and he had no impact in the power play.
*Of course, no one else did either. Three power plays for the Rangers expertly killed by the Rangers. Typical.
*Two assists. Bork bork bork. And yet Hagelin didn't get a single second of power play time.
*Two assists for the Slovak Sniper too. Marian made two nice passes to set up Ranger goals, clearly showing he didn't lose his game in the casino in Gatineau.
*The Devils didn't dress Cam Janssen and used Eric Boulton sparingly. And yet Mike Rupp didn't use his size and physicality to help his team at all. So what is the point of playing him?
*In the Puck Central round table I floated the idea that the Rangers should deal Arty but his recent performances has led me to believe that there won't be many/any teams willing to take him. Since his infamous shooting celebration against Tampa Anisimov has been atrocious.
*Facing a team with just two offensive players with any kind of ability, Dan Girardi played 33 minutes and McDonagh played 29. Welcome back to the grind boys.
*David Clarkson scored to tie the game at three in the last minute and Chico said it was one of the biggest goals of his career. That pretty much says it all for just how embarrassing a night it was for the Rangers.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Michael Del Zotto - one goal.
2-Zach Parise - one goal.
1-David Clarkson - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Adam Larsson - The young Swede is exceptionally talented. It is a real shame he is a Devil.
2-Gabby - The Slovak's low, hard shot created the rebound that Stralman scored on and that beautiful cross to Del Zaster helped the kid snap a 11 game goal drought.
1-Kovalchuk - Loath him as we may, Kovy is so very skilled. Remember the days when Sean Avery used to throw him off his game? They seem so very long ago.