Monday, February 6, 2012

33-12-5: Beating Up The Bullies (Again)

The Blueshirts continued their domination of the bad boys from Broad Street this season by beating the Bullies 5-2 on Sunday. It has been delightful to see the tables turn in this rivalry after so many years of Philadelphia superiority.

That being said, the Rangers sank down to the level of an tired team of thugs that was missing their top defenseman and any semblance of competent goaltending. It was not pretty and, in many ways, pathetic. The current beast of the East should have more discipline and play a far smarter game. Oh yeah, and they should have a power play that isn't an utter abortion. The display put forth on Broadway during the matinee match will not get the Blueshirts very far against a playoff opponent. The second season is approaching and the Rangers should be perfecting their form, not playing sloppy, undisciplined hockey.

Late Hits:

*Had this convo yesterday: Someone said 'if the Flyers had Henrik, they would be a great team.' To which I replied, 'if the Rangers didn't have Henrik they would be worse than the Flyers.' Despite the gaudy shot numbers in the first period, the Flyers had the better scoring chances. It was something like 17-5 and Hank had made three fantastic saves while Bryzgalov had time and space to make his stops and still ponder the wonders of the universe. The King has carried the team to date and hopefully can continue to do so for another few months.

*Why fight? The Flyers feed on fisticuffs and tough play so why would you play right into their hands and give them what they want? I adore hockey fights, I do. But I loathe hockey fights when they are A- to solely justify a goon's salary or B- to help spark the opposition. Philadelphia was desperate for a spark down 1-0 in the first period so the Rangers filled the Flyer dance card with a pair of bouts before the frame was over. It is no coincidence that Philly's first two shots came seconds after Stu fought Simmonds. And in the third the Blueshirts took a 3-2 lead on a goal from Del Zaster and then Prust agreed to spar with Tom Sestito on the ensuing faceoff. The Flyers started flying, amped up their attack and earned a power play less than a minute later - it is no coincidence. So why keep playing into their hands?

*Seriously, why allow a cement-headed minor leaguer like Tom Sestito goad you into fighting not just once but three times?? He has no other purpose playing than to throw down and three different Rangers justified his existence - Stu, Dubi and Pruster. And for one of the Rangers' better penalty killers to be cooling his heels for five minutes early in the third period when his teammates can't stop taking stupid penalties is really not a bright move.

*Stu Bickel has the ability and the tools to be the physical stopgap on the blueline until Dylan McIlrath is ready. He has shown it from time to time. But definitely not in this one. After weeks of being Tortorella's personal punching bag and with Steve Eminger ready to return, Bickel was willing to do anything to keep his job. Sadly Bickel tried to do too much and what he did wasn't the right things - he ended up with two fights for no reason and three bad penalties. He spent almost two times his ice time in the penalty box and should spend the rest of this season down in Hartford because of it.

*The excuse I heard for why Mike Rupp didn't do his job and fight was that he had a broken thumb. Ok. Fine. So why bother dressing him? He can't score one of his fluke goals with a broken digit and he wasn't about to throw down so what purpose did he have playing? Not that he played much, clocking 4:41 with just one shift in each of the second and third periods. Why keep the oafish fourth liner around if he was incapable of contributing anything?

*Rupp's spot would have been better filled with someone capable of helping the power play like Zuke, JAM or even the recently acquired Casey Wellman. The man advantage unit continued to be inept at giving the Rangers any kind of advantage. They wasted nearly nine minutes of ice time against Flyer foursomes that didn't include Chris Pronger.

*Still not a fan of the Winter Classic sweater but the team is 2-0 while wearing them so it is hard to hate on them too much. Can't argue with success.

*Sell high with Arty. A team that just looked at the scoresheet would see his goal and two helpers and think he was worthwhile. They wouldn't have noticed that Dan Girardi's shot just happened to deflect off of an overmatched Anisimov who was being manhandled in front. They might even miss that both of his other points were secondary assists. Of course, for once the PHWs weren't blinded by numbers and Anisimov's three point game didn't make the cut when it came to selecting the three stars. Dammit, that might have been enough to fool some other team. But still, a young guy like Arty - who does have some ability - should be enough to bring in someone who can actually contribute when times get tough.

*Feel the same about Boyle but credit must be given for his beautiful feed to Dubi on the 4-2 goal. It was a sexy set up, just like Gabby's gift to Del Zaster. It was one of the Slovak's best performances this season and it just happened to come against a team with Jaromir Jagr on it. Hmmm ...

*The other high priced Ranger, Brad Richard$, was barely there. Yet again. It is hard to keep blaming Olivia Munn for his failings because he is a professional, and a well paid one at that. He needs to get the razors away from his wrists and find a way out of this funk because the Blueshirts need him. If he can get his game together in time for another Conn Smythe performance this spring all will be forgiven.

*Dumb fight with Sestito aside, Dubi had one of his better games. He seems to play his best hockey when he is angry, like he's the Hulk or something.

*Was that a Ruslan Fedotenko sighting? Wow.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Brandon Dubinsky - one goal.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 21 saves.
1-Marian Gaborik - one goal and one assist.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Simmonds - The Flyer kept pushing the Ranger buttons and had an impact every shift. He also added a power play goal. Imagine that, a power play goal in MSG. Weird.
2-Gabby - Marian took plenty of punishment and still made plays. He ventured into the tough areas of the ice and came out with two points, an impressive performance.
1-Hank - The King's serfs did all they could to keep the Flyers in the game and yet he held firm. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.


Joakim said...

Agree about the fighting and the lack of smartness when chosing opponents and when to go.

To take a guy like Simmonds off the ice for 5 min it's ok. But Sestito, my gosh what a waste of time and effort. He only plays 3-4 min so why bother?

Michael Bérubé said...

But I loathe hockey fights when they are A- to solely justify a goon's salary or B- to help spark the opposition.

This accounts for 99.99 percent of hockey fights. Just sayin. Finesse and speed win Cups, as they did in '94.