Sunday, February 26, 2012

39-15-6: Edging Out The Sabres

The Rangers are clearly immersed in the winter doldrums. Thankfully, much like the weather outside, this winter has been mild. Despite putting forth yet another poor performance on Saturday night the Blueshirts beat Buffalo 3-2 in overtime to improve to 2-2-1 in their last five games.

The successes come not from some meteorological magic but by a few players stepping up to carry the load. This one featured the captain, the King and the kid. Ryan Callahan, Henrik Lundqvist and Carl Hagelin all had good efforts to help the Rangers slice past the Sabres by the narrowest of margins.

Cally has consistently raised his game against his 'hometown' team and was relentless on Saturday night. Hank has allowed two or less goals in his last 11 starts and has a record of 9-2 over that span. He made just 18 saves but several were solid scoring chances by the Sabres. And young Carl was all over the ice, tenacious and speedy. His play suckered that clown Kaleta into a bad penalty (that the power play of course squandered).

If Torts is ever able to get the team firing on all pistons they might actually be able to get out of this funk and deep into the playoffs. If.

Just a few Late Hits:

*As usual, the Rangers won when Brandon Prust fights in the first two minutes - love that MSG now uses my stat on their broadcast (still sad it went un-attributed). I was asked how I can hate fighting for fighting's sake and love the early Prust bouts. Prust fights to energize the team, that simple. The Rangers have stumbled out of the gate so often this season, and was coming off of that hideously embarrassing loss on Friday night so they needed a spark. And Pruster provided it.

*Ranger power play continued to be no advantage at all, going 0-2. The biggest culprit is the man they claimed would quarterback the unit upon his high priced signing: Brad Richard$. B-Rich has just four assists and zero, count 'em, zero power play goals in his last 33 games. And it can't be blamed on Olivia Munn breaking his heart as that streak started mid-relationship. Had he been able to convert or cause more chances, the current clamour for Columbus' Rick Nash certainly would not be as loud.

*As my buddy Eric observed, Brandon Dubinsky has turned into Chris Higgins - for all of his failings, at least he's trying. If this was his final game in a Blueshirt at least he went out working as hard as ever.

*Ring a ding ding. Buffalo hit the iron twice, and Marc Staal connected on what could have been the game winning power play goal a minute from the final buzzer. The posts are a goalie's best friends ...

*Marian Gaborik's game-tying goal was just sick. Del Zaster sent him the puck on a nice pass (credit given!) and the Slovakian Sniper roofed it over Miller. What a shot. It is goals like that one that make his slumps so frustrating because you know he is so extremely talented. After a five game goal drought he has scored in back-to-back games. With 29 so far this season, 40 is definitely in reach with over a month to go.

*Pat Kaleta. What a cheap, dirty, piece of garbage excuse for a hockey player. That guy needs to get his comeuppance something fierce. Like headhunting Andy Sutton, Kaleta is only out there to injure others and someday someone should send him into early retirement himself. It was wonderful to see him get embarrassed by Callahan on the game-winner.

*Odd to see good goaltenders like Hank and Miller give up bad goals through their five holes to get both teams on the scoreboard. Then again, Miller lost the Olympic gold medal for the U.S. by opening his legs to Sidney Crosby so perhaps it is not as strange.

*Oh Del Zaster. Rammer jabbing at the kid's "injured" hip was hilarious, made me think of this.

*Stu Bickel had a far better game than Anton Stralman. Not that that is saying much. If Sather secures another defender on Monday, it should be the big guy who keeps his job.

*Really would have liked to see more from Derek Stepan. The sophomore has not been slumping this season but he has been hit-or-miss.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Carl Hagelin - one goal and one assist.
2-Drew Stafford - two goals.
1-Ryan Callahan - one goal.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hagelin - Bork bork bork!
2-Cally - Rochester's finest finished this game on a gorgeous goal.
1-Stafford - On a night where the Rangers top defenders shut down the city of Pominville and Austria's finest Thomas Vanek, Stafford finally stepped up his game and showed the skill that got him 31 goals last season.

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