Saturday, March 3, 2012

41-15-7: Beaten By The Bolts

The Blueshirts held true to form on Friday night, playing down to the level of their opponents. No, they played below the level of their opponent - an opponent who opened the night 24 points behind them in the standings, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Rangers went 8-2-2 in their last 12 tilts, bookended by extra-time affairs against Tampa. The Blueshirts beat the Bolts 4-3 in the first one and the Lightning flipped the script in this one. Where Ryan Callahan collected the winner the first time around, the captain was absent with injury in this one and Ryan Malone filled the void for the bad guys.

The one solace in all of this is that the points keep pouring in despite the team being entrenched in the doldrums of the season. But, as we well know, all the points in the world will be meaningless in the playoffs so the boys have to snap out this soon and start showing that they are a team that contend when things really get tough.

Late Hits:

*Yet again Hank proved his Hart candidacy by keeping the Rangers in the game. Without the King, this one woud have been a laugher for the Lightning.

*Much will be made of the motivated Brandon Dubinsky. After being benched in Raleigh for something that Del Zaster skated away from scot free, Dubi had to endure his coach threatening to scratch him entirely. It is amazing how guys respond to Tortorella's slander. Vinny Prospal once did it by scoring two goals and said he did it to "shove it up somebody's butt." Dubi wasn't as entertainingly honest after the game but he did put together one of his best performances of the season. Leads one to wonder why he can't kick it into high gear more often ...

*Arty Anisimov is another player who you have to pray finds that high gear more consistently because - as he showed on this night - he can be quite good. It has always been a confidence issue with the Russian kid and once he gets it in his head that he is capable, he can help carry the team.

*Where Cally's absence was apparent, Del Zaster's went unnoticed and may have even been a boon for the boys. Jeff Woywitka got back into the lineup for the first time in forever, something that can only help if he gets called upon again down the line.

*Mike Sullivan scrambled to keep St. Louis and Stamkos covered and he ended up favouring Staal and Stralman - a clear mistake. Sure Dan Girardi was playing hurt and he and McD were on for the first two goals against but they have shown time and again that they could handle big minutes. Keeping a recent concussion case and a No. 6 or 7 defender out there for so much time cost the team as they were out of gas by the overtime.

*Tampa has actual Tesla coils that shoot electricity into the air every time they score. How did MSG not show that?!?

*They did well to show the electricity that was Steven Stamkos, a kid who is clearly among the NHL elite. Always dangerous, Stamkos scored Tampa's third straight goal and his 45th of the season. He is seriously scary.

*Mike Rupp? Not scary at all. Not useful at all either.

*Brad Richard$ has got to be better. The former Conn Smyth winner was active but blew several good chances. With just one goal in his last 10 games, you have to wonder if it is a confidence issue with him at this point.

*Love Stevie Y but does he really think that the draft pick he got for Steve Downie will turn out to be someone better than the shift disturber? Not every team will be as meek as the Rangers were. Garon was untroubled as he made most of his saves and there weren't many scrums at all.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Marian Gaborik - one goal and one assist.
2-Steven Stamkos - one goal and one assist.
1-Ryan Malone - one goal.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Dubi - Sure Hank's play could have earned him a star but Dubiis effort alone earned recognition. He simply wasn't going to be stopped as he emerged from Chateau Bow Wow.
2-Teddy Purcell - Purcell is much like another Kings' castoff - Matt Moulson. As Moulson compliments John Tavares well, Purcell synchs with Stamkos to give defenses fits.
1-Stamkos - Stud.

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