Friday, February 17, 2012
37-14-5: Perspective Is Everything
Perspective is an interesting thing. One of the definitions of perspective is "subjective evaluation of relative significance; a point of view." That's what we do here, this is a blog - my subjective evaluation of the New York Rangers. Thursday night's 4-2 loss to the Blackhawks can be seen in a positive light, 'took one on the chin, but it was bound to happen. Can't win them all.'
As you know, I don't do positive well.
Thursday's loss was a disgraceful performance by the Rangers. It was not just five or 10 bad minutes, it was a demonstration of several of the major failures of this franchise. This team regularly stumbles out of the gates and - on this night, facing a top team without the King to save them - that early awfulness cost them. Hope the hangovers were worth it.
Hey, here is something positive from me: this game proved Henrik Lundqvist deserves to be in the Hart Trophy conversation. Hank is Hart-worthy because his team is not even close to capable without him. His backup had yet another pathetic performance (what's that, five in a row by the former Islander?) and the rest of the Rangers were given opportunity after opportunity to get back into the game and showed that they were grossly incapable of talking advantage of them.
To try to spin it as 'at least the Rangers showed up later rather than never' is ridiculous as the Blackhawks clearly sat back on their lead and stopped pressing their advantage. They took stupid penalties and they opened the door for the Rangers but the Blueshirts couldn't mount a coherent counterattack, even against a goalie as bad as Corey Crawford.
More rants, Late Hits:
*The Rangers put the two points at risk when they decided to start Biron against the Hawks. If the Rangers win, great. If they lose, well, it is a top opponent from the other conference. Better to start Hank on Sunday against the league-worst Blue Jackets to guarantee the two points from the cellar dwellers. The decision is one many teams use, but not a good one in this case. Given how horribly Biron has been his last few starts, success against Columbus would renew his confidence. Instead he looks the fool for getting beaten not once, not twice but three times one-on-one in a 10 minute span.
*On Tuesday I tweeted "If the Rangers get a power play goal against Boston, I promise not to mock the unit on Thursday ..." And I managed not to, I simply repeated again and again that I promised so I wasn't going to say anything. Well, it is technically Friday morning now so gloves are off. The power play looked every bit as bad as it was before the previous three games. It was putrid, predictable and pathetic. The personnel showed no chemistry with each other and no one bothered to bother Crawford in the least.
*Blackhawk fans are quick to call John Scott the worst player in the NHL but Mike Rupp certainly gave him a run for his money. Sure he had his Winter Classic heroics, but aside from that one moment in Philadelphia he has contributed nothing to the team. Stu Bickel has been more valuable as a fourth line winger and the guy never played forward before the other day. Rupp doesn't fight to defend his teammates, he not intimidating in the least, he can hardly skate, he blows easy opportunities - he had me wishing Wojtek Wolski was playing. Seriously, how low can he go?
*Rupp did come away with a secondary assist on Marc Staal's first goal of the season. A good deflection got Staal the goal, and hopefully it is a sign of things to come for the defenseman. Utterly meaningless for Rupp though.
*Del Zaster swimming along the ice after turning the puck over in the third period provided some well needed comic relief during this disgrace of a game.
*When skating four on four the Blackhawks put Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane out as their forwards. The Rangers countered with Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov. Yeah.
*When you are facing a former Stanley Cup winner like Chicago, you need your best players to be at their best and Marian Gaborik was a complete non-factor while Brad Richard$ was impotent and poor Derek Stepan actually looked utterly outmatched.
*John Mitchell's hard work is appreciated. Mitch won a battle, stickhanded past a defender and got open alone just five feet of the net ... only to try to pass the puck back to the point. Sorry bud, but that's just not the right play to make. With Columbus in town on Sunday, perhaps Sammy Pahlsson can be persuaded to switch locker rooms. (More on him in this space Saturday.)
*Brian Boyle was bounced off the puck all night long, losing battles to guys a foot shorter than him. All would have been forgiven if he had scored on that one sexy play - when he cut around a defender while spreading his legs to shield the puck - but after making the great move he just jammed the puck into Crawford's waiting pads. The goaltender didn't even have to move.
*That happened many times- the Blackhawk logo is a beautiful thing but someone should have told the Rangers not to aim for the damned thing. Crawford allowed five goals each of his previous two starts and he didn't even face five decent shots all game tonight.
*Too many Blackhawk sweaters in the building and, if reports are true, their bandwagon fans sang Chelsea Dagger outside of the building with no retribution. There officially is nothing intimidating about playing in New York anymore.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Patrick Sharp - one goal.
2-Marian Hossa - one goal and one assist.
1-Jonathan Toews - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Toews - Captain Serious is seriously one of the top players in the NHL on both sides of the ice. A delight to watch.
2-Marty Biron - Another goaltender might have made it hard for Chicago to score three breakaway goals.
1-Joel Quenneville - The Chicago coach had his team - losers of nine in a row - ready to play at puck drop, something his counterpart has proven incapable of doing night after night.