Thursday, February 2, 2012
32-12-5: Points Are Points
The Rangers edged out the Sabres in the fifth round of a shootout on Wednesday night for a 1-0 win in Buffalo. It was the second straight shootout for the Blueshirts and their second straight disappointing effort.
The biggest difference between the game against the Devils and the one against the Sabres was the goaltending. Instead of having sieves on either side of the ice, there was one former and one future Vezina winner. Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist held their ground unlike the two Martys and both skated away with shutouts.
The first place team in the East faced the 14th and the first place side needed a breakaway contest to earn the W. It would really be sad if it was not foreseeable. This Ranger team has worked their way to the top of the conference with tough, lunch-pail hockey. But when the opposition has brought their hard hats to the job site, well all bets are off. In games like those the top end talent needs to shine and just one of the New York stars came through - Lundqvist. The rest of the high priced city socialites need to do some soulsearching soon because it is only getting tougher from here.
*The Ranger specialty teams are so good they kill their own penalties and those of the other team too. They took care of seven in all on this night, five of their own and two of Buffalo's. The Blueshirts have to be more disciplined and they absolutely have to learn to score when up a man - this is getting ridiculous.
*Brad Richard$ saw as much ice time as Brian Boyle ... I don't think I need to point out what travesty that that is. Sure plenty of it had to do with all of the penalty killing time but still, the former Conn Smythe winner has to earn more minutes than the biggest waste of size since Willie Huber.
*Boyle did have one good moment: when he shoved Patrick Kaleta. Kaleta embodies the NHL's need to eliminate the instigator penalty. A weasel like that who tries to injure other players should be put in his place, instead of being allowed to keep his gloves on and jaw away. At least Avery would throw down on occasion ...
*Del Zastrous. A step behind in his own end. Pinched too much. Panicked and threw the puck over the glass. Somehow missed the net on a breakaway with a shot five feet from the cage. Simply Del Zastrous.
*And yet he won't taste the lash that continually bites poor Stu Bickel. Bickel is constantly been abused by the coach, a favoured whipping boy now that Avery has been banished. Sean at least deserved it at times, Bickel was playing in the ECHL not too long ago and hustles his ass off every one of his all-too-rare shifts. Torts has to either learn to live with the gaffes or bench him because status quo right now is a waste. Of course the kid will make mistakes, he jumps on the ice cold and knows his continued employment hinges on his every action.
*Had no idea that Arty even dressed for this game, much less played 16 minutes. Ever since the sniper incident he has been awful, perhaps a trip to Hartford could be enough to re-ignite his game.
*The Sabres Zack Kassian is going to be a beast in this league if Buffalo doesn't ruin him. Size, power and decent hands? Nice combo right there.
*Seven games without a point for Brandon Dubinsky, in case you were wondering.
*Had hoped that the All Star break would help Marc Staal further his recovery but two games back and he still looks like an entirely different player than the one that ended last season. No way they shut him back down but there is definitely something still wrong.
*There is more worth ranting about but it is late and, frankly, the Rangers still escaped the back-to-back with three out of four points. The guys need to get their acts together if they are to compete come April but for now, points are points - no matter how hideously they are earned.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Ryan Callahan - shootout winning goal.
2-Ryan Miller - 29 saves.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 34 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cally - Of course the Captain is going to play well with his grandma around ...
2-Miller - After a performance such as this it is hard to imagine the many Buffalo fans who were calling for him to be traded not too long ago.
1-Hank - Your goaltender is your best penalty killer and the King stood tall while his teammates were forced to sit down time and time again.