Monday, March 12, 2012
After losing three straight road games the Rangers returned to the Garden on Sunday to see if they could snap out of their slump. The evil Islanders stood in their way but proved unable to extend the Blueshirts' run of futility, ultimately falling 4-3 in overtime.
The match was a big test for the one true New York team and they came out of it with solid marks. Sure this one should have been a definitive demolition of Wang's minions but it isn't often that a team simply snaps out of a funk. After the loss to Chicago, I wrote how the Ranger "skill guys rarely come to play, their power play is atrocious, and their grit - their wonderful, endearing and enduring grit - only goes so far." Well, the skill guys came to play, the power play worked and their grit matched that of the Islanders.
Now the trick of this will be for all of those things to keep on clicking so the Rangers can find their groove and stride into the playoffs firing on all cylinders. What a trick that would be.
*Boyle using his freakish size for once was nice. Twice in the same game? Wonderful! Amazing the things that happen when someone stands in the slot.
*"Shoot the puck! Shoot the puck! Shoot the puck!" Hilarious. This team spends too much time trying to be too cute too often. They aren't good enough to be doing behind the back passes and other nonsense - just shoot the damned thing and good things happen. Look at the mistake that was the Mark Streit shot: the damned thing caromed oddly off of the glass and Moulson was positioned well to pounce on it.
*It is good to know that other teams' tv analysts are as brain dead as Joe Micheletti. About six minutes into the first period Butch Goring said: 'Michael Del Zotto is out and the Rangers really miss that young man - he is a plus 24. The Rangers have so many positive players and Callahan and Richards are minus two and minus three. They need to be worried about how those guys are playing.' Yeah, definitely need to be worried about that Callahan guy...he's like, totally incompetent. Methinks Goring suffered a few too many hits to his head when he played.
*Del Zaster wasn't missed in the least, again. Bickel answered the bell against Haley, Stralman rebounded from a rough start with some of his most solid play in a while and Eminger managed not to suck. And I'd say that the power play was able to survive without Del Zaster, wouldn't you? It was amazing what a decisive, skilled passer could do with the extra ice.
*Speaking of such, Zuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuke. The nano-sized Norwegian was greeted by the fans on his first shift and most of his others as well. The kid needed to be a factor if he was to save his NHL life and he did just that. He skated hard, he was defensively responsibly and his passing was quick and decisive. That being said, the big knock that knocked him into the AHL was his reluctance to shoot and that still remains.
*Andrew MacDonald's breakaway goal ranks among the worst that Hank has allowed this season. The King is definitely slumping of late, hopefully not enough to take away the Vezina Trophy that he worked so hard to earn.
*Hank overcommitted on P.A. Parenteau's initial shot and Dan Girardi's poor positioning gave Tavares the slot, where he was able to kick the rebound in. Like Hank, Dan-O has not been himself of late but at least there has been no let down in his partner's play. Ryan McDonagh had himself yet another solid outing, playing major minutes and coming through with big plays on both sides of the ice. Have to hope that he doesn't burn out the way Landon's dad has.
*Proof that the official scorer is a giving soul? Brad Richard$ skated the entire length of the ice and beat Nabby for the Rangers' first goal and yet the scorer awarded two assists on the play - one to Stralman and one to Hank. Technically they were indeed the last two to touch the puck before RIchard$ but that is just silliness, they had nothing to do with the final result of the play. Actually, I'm surprised DZ wasn't given a helper on that from the press box.
*Asked an Isle fan why Travis Hamonic was wearing a cage and got this reply: "I donno, cause he's gay?" These people are the worst form of life on earth.
*Too many Islander sweaters in the Garden. The ever increasing prices allow that to happen, sapping out the home ice advantage of the building. While that is utterly infuriating, I must admit the Portland Winterhawks Nino Niederreiter sweater I spotted was pretty cool.
*Not saying that Nabby deserved to be Malarchuked for his blocker punches to Prust's head at the end of the second period but he should at least have been ran the way Lucic destroyed Miller, with a nice high head shot. Eye for an eye, if there is to be no proper punishment. Head punches with blockers are pretty far from being ok - that is assault with a weapon. But the NHL is not that serious with their concussion consciousness and Brendan Shanahan doesn't have the gall to make a call on that. Neither did the game's officials, who came up with a mythical slashing penalty on Prust to match the roughing they gave Nabby. Roughing? Should have been attempt to injure. If the Kazakh keeper wants to try to injure a Ranger, a Ranger should try to injure him.
*Shoulda sent Rupp to do it. He was good for nothing (as per usual) and had four minutes of ineffective ice time. Once Cally comes back it should be Rupp who sits, not Zuke - at least the mighty midget can be useful in certain situations.
*And finally: why yes, Potvin does suck.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Marian Gaborik - one goal and one assist.
2-John Tavares - one goal and one assist.
1-Brad Richards - two goals and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Bork Bork Bork - Hagelin couldn't get the puck past Nabby and he wasn't on the ice for a single goal for or goal against. But he was utterly relentless every second that he was out there. Would have loved to give this to Zuke but the little guy was saddled with some poor linemates during five-on-five play.
2-Tavares - His goal was nice, his assist was nice, his dive to draw a boarding call on Boyle was nice.
1-Richard$ - That's what you're paid for Braden.