Monday, February 20, 2012

38-14-5: Awful But Enough

The best way to think about Sunday is that Rangers played a game, and they earned two points from it. Look any deeper and you should be utterly disgusted.

Columbus is by far the worst team in the league. They were playing the second half of a back-to-back, they were without their top defenseman and they are surrounded by rumours that their lone "star" is going to be traded any day now. They entered the game with 20 less wins than the Rangers.

And the Rangers needed overtime to beat them.

It is taking all of my restraint not to unleash a diatribe of four letter words. After getting embarrassed by the Blackhawks the Blueshirts somehow came in overconfident or something and nearly were beaten by the worst team in the NHL.

It should have been a statement game. It should have been a blowout. And instead the Rangers disgraced themselves with that so-called effort and were lucky to escape with the win. The most ridiculous part is that they played half-heartedly, dominated most of the action and still needed overtime. Overtime! Against Columbus! These guys should be forced to celebrate Presidents Day by doing Herbies for hours on end.

Just atrocious.

Late Hits:

*"We don't need you!" Fewer chants were more true. Nash lollygagged around half the night and was easily kept away from scoring areas. His game-tying goal came because Boyle blew the faceoff and Dubi didn't bother to come out to cover him. Yeah, why would you want to cover the only guy on the opposing team who can shoot the puck?

*Steve Mason allowed four or more goals in 16 of his 31 prior starts and had a save percentage of under .900 in 20 of them. And yet the Rangers shot the puck into his logo time after time and refused to fight for the many rebounds he gave up. They managed to ring his bell with a great high shot to the mask but didn't bother to follow it up with physical play around the crease the rest of the night.

*Love getting all of the hate mail and tweets when Del Zaster does anything. He still can't play his position well, which has been my problem with him to begin with. His offense is not my issue. Although, had DZ actually beaten the clock or had he not blown a wide open net on another occasion, then the Rangers wouldn't have needed overtime to beat the worst team in the NHL. But sorry guys, his OT assist does not make him Ray Bourque. It came thanks to former Islander Aaron Johnson getting caught out of position and our old friend Tyutin diving like an idiot to cover him, exactly the kind of mistakes DZ himself has been guilty of many times. And I have no idea how DZ got an assist on the Richards goal as Richards passed to Hagelin, then Hagelin passed back to Richards. But I can see the comments already, 'Del Zotto is a superstar, Joe Micheletti told me so! Greatest defenseman evar!'

*MSG's clock is not the official clock, so no goal. Cope with it. This game should have been 6-0 long before the controversial call at the end of the second period.

*And that is partly because of DZ's and the rest of the power play's utter incompetence. There is nothing special about it, it is an utter failure and it may very well result in the eventual failure of this franchise this season. There is no excuse for not getting a single good scoring chance in 1:32 of five-on-three time AGAINST COLUMBUS!

*Stu Bickel and Mike Rupp played three and four minutes respectively. Why bother? Put Wolski in the lineup or bring up Zuke - let them try to help the power play. At the very least, it would showcase them to scouts around the league and increase their trade value.

*Eminger and Stralman both took unacceptable penalties but that should be expected as neither should be playing regularly in the NHL. Eminger is a solid No. 7 guy and Stralman has had more off nights than on. They were supposed to be band-aids but appear to be permanent patchwork. Or at least until the trade deadline when Sather can bring in some players who can actually contribute. (I miss you Mike Sauer!)

*Sammy Pahlsson, who Sather should certainly acquire, had a solid but quiet game. Statistically he won five of eight faceoffs, killed two minutes worth of penalties, had a pair of shots blocked and collected a takeaway. He also forechecked voraciously and played up and down the BJs' lineup.

*Weird stat of the night: Columbus blocked twice as many shots as the Rangers (20-10). Sure that is a result of the Rangers controlling play and constantly shooting it at the player two feet in front of them but, still, it doesn't happen very often.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Derek Stepan - one goal.
2-Artem Anisimov - one goal.
1-Ryan Callahan - being a friendly guy to the media in the locker room.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Brad Richard$ - In the battle of over-paid, under-performing centers Richard$ edged out Carter with a goal to the Blue Jackets assist.
2-Del Zaster - The kid is not unlike current flash-in-the-pan Jeremy Lin, playing a high risk/high reward game. DZ has skills but is too sloppy to be reliable. But I do give credit where due.
1-Ryan McDonagh - If the PHW can arbitrarily name one of their favourite Rangers as the first star of a terrible game, then I can too.

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