Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The Rangers have won most of their games this season through a combination of hard work and good luck. As the idiom goes, one begets the other and against the Devils the Blueshirts didn't have much of either in the match. The result was a poor one, a 4-1 loss to their cross-river rivals.
It was awful at the start, as the Rangers played one of their worst periods of the year. They got their game together for the second period before falling apart in the finale. Lack of consistency has been a killer at times and it certainly proved fatal in this one. But at least they weren't consistently bad. The success during the second showed that they can get their act together under duress and that perseverance should prove to be a powerful quality during the postseason.
*Poor Brandon Dubinsky, he really is trying. So Chris Higgins-ish. After the top unit completely fell apart in the first minute, Dubi tried to jump-start his teammates by tussling with Ryan Carter. Too bad the former Duck channeled Hurricane Carter and kicked the hell out of him.
*Tortorella's line juggling was just as hurtful to the Rangers as the punches Dubinsky took to the face. No one had any clue as to where they were going or who they were playing with (especially in the third period) and the lack of chemistry killed.
*The coach's call to dress 'toughness' was also a massive mistake in judgement. Keeping goons John Scott and Mike Rupp in the roster while dropping grinder John Mitchell and selecting Steve Eminger over Anton Stralman both backfired. Scott lost a fight to a guy nearly a foot shorter than him, Rupp achieved absolutely nothing (as per usual) and Mitchell's energy was missing. Eminger couldn't do a single thing right, while Stralman's puck skills could have helped get the team out of their own end once or twice. The devil is in the details and the Devils managed their details better than the Rangers did.
*It is astounding how the Rangers have yet to learn that dumping the puck around the boards and chasing doesn't work against Mmmaaaaarrrrttyy? The tubby tender has always gotten his exercise ranging out of his crease, it is no revelation that he will beat the Blueshirts to puck after puck - even with a speedster like Hagelin heading into the Jersey end.
*Bork bork bork! The youngster's set up to Step was simply stellar: he won a battle behind the net against two Devils and threaded the needle through the slot to Stepan. Beautiful stuff, and we are only scratching the surface of the Swede's talent. Adam Henrique may be more of a Calder candidate, but Hagelin can be better down the line.
*Del Zastrous. In his own end. Along the boards. On the power play. Just Del Zastrous.
*Dan Girardi was almost as awful. Ok, no, not really. But he wasn't his usual solid self. While he may have physically survived to this point of the season the many minutes that he has played have taken a mental toll and he is making uncharacteristic mistakes.
*Thankfully Marc Staal is raising his game. He was strong, confident and decisive on both ends of the ice. Frankly, Staal had his best performance in a long, long time - a throwback to the pre-concussion kid who rose to become the Blueshirts' best blueliner.
*Timing is everything. During a game where Sean Avery's presence would have helped immeasurably, news came out that he has been told to not come back to the Whale. Not sure if I have another post in me lamenting Avery's fate but the gist of it would just be a sad, slow shake of the head.
*Man do I hate David Clarkson. That's all, just wanted to say that.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Ryan Carter - one goal and one KO.
2-Martin Brodeur - 25 saves.
1-Ilya Kovalchuk - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - A ton of astounding saves to keep the Rangers close. Sure he probably coulda grabbed one or two of the goals against, but many of his 25 stops were just stellar.
2-Carter - Eight minutes, four shots, one goal, one demolition of Dubinsky. Not bad.
1-Kovy - New Jersey's top skill player was their top player, shaming Gaborik and Richard$.