Wednesday, February 29, 2012
40-15-6: Gut Check
It is a rare thing when you can reflect upon a game that featured all of 27 shots and realize that it was actually exciting. That was the case on Monday night as the Rangers edged the Devils 2-0.
The Blueshirts avenged their 1-0 defeat 20 days prior by playing more physical and having the crutch of the best goaltender in the NHL in their goal. The Rangers stood up their rivals and gave back as good as they got. And there was none of the scrambling that was seen when Biron was in the paint. Hank continued to provide evidence for his MVP candidacy with a fantastic performance under odd circumstances - he made just 13 saves but at least six of them were on stellar scoring chances for the Devils.
So, as usual, the King came through to protect the castle, defeating the Stay Puft Marshmallow goaltender and his evil henchmen from across the river. It was a good gut check to end February and send the team into a packed March where they will play 17 games in 30 days.
*It is good but saddening to read Carl Hagelin's postgame quote: "Richie has been on me a lot about things I need to work on and things I need to do. It's important for me to have a veteran like him telling me and leading the way." On one hand it is a great thing that B-Rich is sharing his experience - it can only help kids like Hagelin (and Step and Arty, etc.) in the long run. On the other, Richard$ really should be worrying about his own game right about now. The big-money game-breaker has been a nonfactor far too often this season - even with his seven game winners - and that largely helped Sather justify that ridiculous big push for Nash.
*Loved that Hagelin/Callahan pairing though. The two epitomize the current Ranger: fast, relentless, unselfish and capable.
*The Ranger power play went a typical oh-fer, blowing two opportunities. The three usual suspects were at fault, John Tortorella, Richard$ and Del Zaster. Torts allows the guys to change their entire outlook when there is a man advantage and B-Rich was on for 3:12 and DZ 3:23 of the four minutes. Love that the guy has seven game winners this season but getting this much power play time should translate into more than one goal in his last nine games and no ppgs in his last 34.
*Mmmmaaarrrttyyy pulled one of his classic flops in the third period, which the ref luckily ignored. Brodeur just needs to disappear into fat air already.
*Kovalchuk fired off 10 shots - four were blocked, four were wide and just two made it on net. An impressive showing by Girardi, McDonagh, Callahan and the rest of the boys to shut down the Devil. And did Parise even play?
*Nice of Pruster to answer the bell, again. Luckily he escaped injury against the bigger Boulton and inflicted some damage of his own.
*On one hand you shouldn't want a $4.2m forward fighting. On the other hand Brandon Dubinsky has had serious struggles this season so at least he is trying to contribute something. But, as we saw with Chris Higgins, effort only goes so far ... Dubi needs to get his act together before the end of the season or one of those many trade rumours will come to pass at the draft.
*Even before the acquisition of John Scott Mike Rupp was useless. Now his existence is utterly unnecessary. Whether the Devils dodged him or not, he is not intimidating in the least and he has few hockey skills. Two goals in one ridiculous should-be-exhibition game do not make up for 30-plus games of ineffectual play. Hopefully the next tilt against New Jersey will feature Scott ending David Clarkson's career.
*Sorry, but I really missed Sean Avery in this one. Well, for every one - but especially those against Mmmmaaarrrttyyy, Avery's fat foil.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 13 saves.
2-Ryan McDonagh - no points.
1-Carl Hagelin - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hagelin - Bork bork bork!
2-Cally - The captain set the tone and set up the Swede's goal with hard work behind the net despite a double team. And the kid returned the favour by feeding Cally for the empty netter. Beautiful.
1-Hank - Where Mmmmaaarrrttyyy used to rack up win after win with low shot totals like this, rarely did the Devils' system give up as many scoring chances. Hank hung in there and came through when called upon.