Wednesday, March 14, 2012

44-18-7: Stars Looking Like The Stars

Last season we saw how someone with wheels could help Marian Gaborik. Gabby was paired with Sean Avery and the two instantly clicked. Unfortunately their on-ice success was cut short by John Tortorella's off-ice hatred for Avery. Torts quickly removed the Grate One from the Slovak's side and that was that. Luckily for us now, the head coach likes Carl Hagelin.

Since his promotion, Hagelin has acclimated himself to the pace and physicality of the NHL. Red Berenson's training in Michigan has served the 23 year old well and he quickly became one of Tortorella's go-to guys. During the coach's incessant line juggling he found that Hags had chemistry some with Brad Richard$ and, with Ryan Callahan out, Torts made Marian the final piece of their troika. Now Gabby has the Swede's speed to help him out and Richard$ is finding his form from last year.

Honestly it should be of little surprise that Richard$ is getting his game together now, getting it back to the level it was with the Stars. During his final campaign in Dallas he combined with Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn in one of the NHL's best lines. Well, right now Gabby is playing the part of Eriksson, Hagelin has replaced Benn and the Ranger threesome has quickly become lethal.

On Tuesday they provided all of the offense as the Blueshirts beat the Hurricanes 4-2 at the Garden. It was a very necessary win for the Rangers, as they continue to work their way out of their recent funk. It should increase their confidence and give them a very necessary boost towards Thursday's massive meeting with Crosby and the Pens.

Late Hits:

*Lost in the mix is Derek Stepan. The kid is sinking down the depth chart like a rock and his play has gone south as well. Hopefully Callahan's eventual return will help fix that but we will have to see. For now reuniting Step with Zuke might be a short-term solution as the two worked well together last season. If you can pry Prust away from Boyle, his grit could give them both a boost.

*Not only is the shot that Boyle once had gone, but the gains from his much-publicized skate lessons also seem to have disappeared. He had one decent backhand but seemed to constantly be chasing the Canes around the ice. And when he doesn't use his size and doesn't win faceoffs, well there isn't much use for him.

*Speaking of useless, perhaps the Museum of Natural History can use Mike Rupp for their early human display because his presence adds nothing to the Rangers on the ice. He may be a great teammate off of it but that's not something we can see.

*Mats Zuccarello had two shots, on the same shift! And one hit the post! Shocking. Zuke had himself a pretty solid game on both sides of the ice, although he couldn't help the power play convert on any of their three opportunities. The tripping call on him was one of the most ridiculous penalties this season. Because someone his size can make someone Tim Gleason's size go flying. Yeah, ok.

*Bobby Sanguinetti, haha. Not quite the folly that was Hugh Jessiman but still a big bust. Bobby looked like an even poorer version of Del Zaster. Perfect example? On the first goal. Watching him chase Mitchell up the boards, slapping the Ranger with his stick like he was trying to swat a fly was hilarious. It achieved nothing, and Mitchell sent it to Dan-O, who took the big shot. Girardi intentionally send it wide, so the ricochet off the end boards ended up on Gabby's stick and the Slovak scored.

*Credit to Marty Biron, for not giving up a goal before Cam Ward did. Biron was barely tested but still managed to make a pair of nice saves that I noticed. Also noticed that he owes Ruslan Fedotenko a nice steak dinner for making a save of his own after the goaltender overcommitted.

*Please Mike Sauer, get well already; Steve Eminger should not be playing regularly in the NHL. Neither should Anton Stralman, although the Swede did have a few really strong, even physical shifts against Carolina. Stu Bickel, on the other hand, is proving he belongs. Stu played nearly 22 minutes and is clearly not chasing the play as much as he used to - not bad for a guy who was in the ECHL not too long ago.

*What are the odds that Callahan's eventual return will transform Brandon Dubinsky back into the player who earned his four-year, $16.8m contract, rather than the one enjoying his four-year, $16.8m contract?

*Justin Faulk was fantastic for Carolina, that kid has a helluva future ahead of him.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Marian Gaborik - one goal and two assists.
2-Carl Hagelin - one goal and two assists.
1-Brad Richards - two goals and one assist.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Gabby - How he deals with defenders is impressive.
2-Richard$ - So shooting the puck is a good thing, eh?
1-Bork - The kid makes things happen.

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