Sunday, March 18, 2012

44-20-7: Free Fallin'

Spring officially begins this week and it can't come soon enough for the Rangers. The Blueshirts continue to languish in their winter doldrums and on Saturday were beaten by Colorado 3-1. The Avalanche, a young team that came in hungrier than the hefty Rangers, who have grown fat on points they barely had to work for this season.

Now is the time that Rangers should be rounding into form and instead they are languishing in laziness and ineptitude. And things aren't going to get any easier

But you know, this slide may very well be the best thing for the Dolans, as the Rangers could tumble to sixth place. The air down there is far better than at the top as they will face the SouthLeast Division winner and have their best chance to not get bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

Late Hits:

*Is Varley French Canadian? He loves to over-emphasize every one of his glove saves the way those goalies do. I hate that. The former Cap somehow collected 40 saves and yet barely had to break a sweat. He had time, he had space and he barely had to face any rebounds. Why would the Rangers go hard to the net? The one time they did crash the crease they scored a goal, but why bother doing it again?

*Del Zaster returned from injury and stepped right back in his usual position of ruining Ranger power plays. He can hardly hold the blue line, he is constantly looking for his own glory with a backdoor chance and he wastes hours of time with the puck, allowing the defenders to get set ... And Torts gave him hours, well close to it - an outrageous 8:38 of man advantage ice time.

*Brad Richard$ certainly didn't pull his weight with the man advantage either. But, as we've seen this season, consistency isn't his strong suit so we have to expect him to disappear for a few games - even with nearly nine minutes of power play time. Random fact, Landeskog was 11 years old when Richard$ won his Conn Smythe.

*Mike Rupp may be the most useless player in the NHL. A grinder who doesn't grind, a fighter who doesn't fight, a former hat trick scorer who doesn't score. And yet he got some power play time. Seriously.

*Then again, everyone except for Stu saw at least three seconds of power play time. Talk about grasping at straws Torts. THe head coach is completely clueless about how to make the power play work, and it is mid-March. Not October, March. Seventy-one games into the season.

*Nice of the ECHL version of Stu Bickel to show up and get embarrassed by Boston cast-off Matt Hunwick to allow Colorado to tie things up in the 1st period. And then Stu decided to goon it up in the second with a poor fight for no reason against Cody McLeod. There is a lot to like about Bickel's game but the whole package simply isn't up to par.

*Hunwick went to the University of Michigan from 2003-2007. His goaltender during his first two college campaigns was Al Montoya. Monty was there one year prior to Hunwick, and played for captain Jed Ortmeyer that season. Hunwick spent three years alongside the Whale's Chad Kolarik. Kolarik was one year behind him, and during Kolarik's senior season he got to play with a fresh-faced Swedish rookie named Carl Hagelin. Bork bork bork.

*The second Avalanche goal was just atrocious. Colorado rushes in, Del Zaster chases one Av into the corner and Staal didn't notice DZ was out of position because he was busy blocking a shot. Pruster had covered Landeskog as the Avalanche came into the zone but he got spun by the soon-to-be-superstar Swede. Boyle watched as O'Reilly crossed to Wilson. Fedotenko didn't bother to close with Wilson and Landeskog was left alone, making it an easy deflection. A comedy of errors by the Blueshirts.

*Thought Matt Duchene had a broken ankle?!?

*Dubi. Nothing. Again.

*Jan Hejda does nothing flashy, but most things right.

*Speaking of such, enjoyed Timmy Erixon's return. He was quietly capable and solid with the puck. The extra time with Wade Redden seemingly has paid off - seriously.

*Couldn't believe the Garden played a clip of Pantera's "Cowboys From Hell" - but sadly couldn't enjoy it as it came right before the end of the night's failure.

*For the first game in a while, there weren't many opposing fans in the Garden. It didn't make for an especially outstanding crowd but there were a few Let's Go Rangers chants that got quite loud.

*Love Hank, but how the hell was he named the third star? He allowed two goals on 10 shots and went on to close with all of 17 saves - just one of which was particularly impressive. Another example of why I do my own stars after every match.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 17 saves.
2-Gabriel Landeskog - one goal.
1-Semyon Varlamov - 41 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Varley - No softies allowed.
2-Ryan Wilson - Some solid defense, good puck movement and the perfect shot for Landeskog to tip home.
1-Landeskog - Damn Swedes are building more hockey robots to take over the world.

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