Wednesday, April 4, 2012
51-22-7: You Can't Beat Us!!!!
Let's just get this out of the way - with their 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday the Rangers clinched first place in the Eastern Conference.
Yippee and woo hoo. Home ice and all that. Great. Hopefully that proves to mean something two months from now. What is meaningful at the moment is that one of the most heated Ranger rivalries was completely and utterly owned by the Blueshirts this season. Six games against Philadelphia. Six wins. Suck on that you savages. WE. EAT. YOUR. CHEESESTEAK! WE EAT IT UP!
*All gloating aside, this game proved that the Rangers don't have that killer instinct in them. Up 4-0 they took their feet off the gas, took stupid penalties and allowed the Flyers to make things interesting. Sure some of the officiating was dubious ... to say the least ... but sloppy play put them in the position to allow Philly to get things going.
*The team as a whole has drawn much criticism in this space and, if anything, this game showed the reason for much of it: there are times that the Rangers are capable of greatness. The forecheck can be ferocious. The power play can work. Marian Gaborik can snipe with the best of them. Brad Richard$ reads the ice like few others. Brian Boyle can use his size to gain room and score from the slot. Arty Anisimov can channel his skill and confidence to power through the opposition on his way to sexy goals. Del Zaster has it in him to play passable defense. These are all things that need to happen at the same time, all the time.
*Henrik Lundqvist - a few foul performances in recent weeks aside - has been the most consistent contributor to the Ranger success. And on this night he was pretty damned successful. Lundqvist made 37 saves, several of them of the extraordinary type. After opening the door for his Vezina competition, he surely shut it with this evening's simply outstanding performance. Point blank saves, falling-back last-ditch stick-throwing blocker saves ... and there are few things more enjoyable than his Statue of Liberty glove saves. Puck in hand, hand outwards and upwards, on fire (metaphorically) - the King of New York, holding his torch high.
*Guessing that everyone out there said some kind of prayer when Hank took a puck off his wrist and doubled over in pain. After the game he said he could hardly clutch his stick after the injury, which doesn't bode well but Biron is long past due to make an appearance anyway. Hopefully those prayers carry and it proves to be just a bruise and not a break.
*Speaking of bruises, there were a pair of fights and they were exact examples of what is good about fighting in hockey and what is bad about fighting in hockey. Zac Rinaldo wants to screw with the Rangers' top scorer, he will have to face the consequences - the left and right fists of Brandon Prust. Honor, the Code, hockey. Then when things get amped up Mike Rupp decides to dance with Jody Shelley in what was clearly an orchestrated exhibition of the lone skill each one possesses. It meant nothing and it should not be part of the game.
*Stuuu vs. Simmonds? I don't even know what that was.
*McD: one goal, one assist and literally one second of power play time. Del Zaster: no points and 6:20 of power play time. That makes sense.
*Pardon me Sam, please shut your partner up. Micheletti is just terrible, up there with Chico and Butch in the race for most awful analysts in the NHL.
*Hope those brave souls that went down to Philly got home safe. At least the ones that were smart enough not to provoke the savages in that city.
*I know Mike Richards is gone so he didn't have his regular dance partner but how/why was Brandon Dubinsky all but invisible in this one?
*Dubi provides quite a contrast to captain Callahan - it is astounding the different career trajectories that the two have had after starting together.
*The Whale can not catch the team ahead of them and they can't lose their playoff spot. The Rangers have used two of their four post-deadline callups with Zuke and Erixon, leaving two for the two remaining games of the regular season. With the top spot wrapped up, it might be nice to see if Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Ryan Bourque can handle NHL speed (while resting regulars like Richard$ and Gaborik).
*PHW Three Stars
3-Claude Giroux - three assists.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 37 saves.
1-Marian Gaborik - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Boyle - The big man won faceoffs, killed penalties and scored a goal.
2-Giroux - He's talented, that's for sure.
1-Hank - Simply stellar.