Saturday, February 25, 2012
38-15-6: Meek In The Mausoleum
The way I see things, if you grew up in the 80s you despise the Islanders. 90s, Devils. Millennium Flyers. And if you found your fandom post-lockout, Pens. I grew up in the 80s. If the Rangers lost 76 games in a season but still won all six against the Islanders I would be fine. Well, maybe not fine but not as crazed as I could be.
In recent seasons it has been hit or miss, with the Isles often playing above their ability and the Rangers sinking below theirs. That happened again on Friday, as the Blueshirts fell 4-3 in a shootout - they were lucky to escape with a point.
As the anger and disgust are making it hard to maintain any kind of cohesive thought, I'll just jump into the Late Hits:
*John Tortorella put the team behind the eight ball to start by going with Marty Biron in net. As with his decision of starting Biron against the Hawks rather than the Jackets, this one backfired on the Rangers. As he did in the Chicago game, Biron was caught sleeping at the start and allowed early, easy goals. No matter how good a guy he is, if he can't stop the puck he shouldn't have a job. He is not Henrik Lundqvist - that is accepted - but he can't be spotting the opposition 3-0 and 2-0 leads in the first 10 minutes of games. Biron was bailed out by an equally poor performance by Nabokov, nothing more.
*Del Zastrous. Utterly Del Zastrous. At this point all I can do is shake my head because I've already said it all. Stupid, stupid mistakes night after night, year after year.
*Ryan McDonagh played 29 minutes and Dan Girardi played 30. Against the Islanders. If Torts was worried enough to work his top pairing into the ground, he should have been worried enough to start Henrik.
*John Mitchell, he of no goals and one assist in his last 11 games, was on the ice in overtime and he got a shot in the shootout. Sure he drew a penalty - the result of the stupidity of Milan Jurcina - but to have him out on the ice with Gaborik skating four on four is ridiculous. Mitchell and Hagelin worked great together and both could use the jumpstart of a reunion. You would think Hagelin's wheels would be an asset in the open ice of OT but Torts left him on the bench the entire time.
*Surprisingly Mitchell was the long Ranger not to record at least a single hit. Another statistical oddity? Stu Bickel was the lone Ranger to have a positive +/- with a +1.
*Very happy to see Marc Staal score. Infuriated to see Martin go after him at the end of the second period. Utterly disgusted not to see any Ranger seek revenge the rest of the way.
*Bickel fought Martin, but that was well before the minor leaguer nailed Staal. Boyle hid behind a linesman so he wouldn't have to fight. And neither Bickel nor Brandon Prust nor Mike Rupp were anywhere to be found. Given the lack of intensity in the third period - when the teams seemed more than happy to get their point and run - there was ample opportunity to seek vengeance. Despite the Blueshirts leading the NHL in fighting majors, there is no one is scared of the Rangers. No one has to think twice that there will be some kind of retribution for taking liberties. Unacceptable.
*Aside from taking a terrible penalty and drawing another, Brad Richard$ was invisible. Meanwhile, John Tavares was outstanding. It is amazing how that kid has turned Kings cast-off Matt Moulson and minor leaguer PA Parenteau into actual NHL players. Meanwhile Richard$ hasn't shown much chemistry with anyone and hasn't become the power play quarterback everyone had hoped.
*Anton Stralman - three straight games with stupid minor penalties. Three more days until the deadline when he will hopefully be replaced. Greg Zanon or Shane O'Brien would be nice ...
*PHW Three Stars
3-John Tavares - two assists.
2-Marian Gaborik - one goal and one assist.
1-P.A. Parenteau - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Parenteau - Hardly given a chance with the Rangers, PA has ridden Tavares' coattails to a NHL career.
2-Tavares - I'm loathe to give any Islander credit for anything ever but man is this kid good.
1-The Slovakian Sniper - One even strength goal, one power play assist and one goal in the shootout. Not too shabby Gabby.