Friday, April 6, 2012
51-23-7: It's All About Torts
The Rangers continued to play out the regular season string, taking on Pittsburgh in the penultimate match before the playoffs on Thursday. It was an ugly affair as the Blueshirts put forth a less-than-par effort and the Pens played to win. And win they did, 5-2.
The circumstance of the game meant that the result was largely meaningless - the Rangers had little to play for so win or lose, whatever. There is no posterity in the President's Trophy, in fact that piece of hardware has been an albatross in recent years: five of the last six winners came up short in the end. No one remembers or cares about the regular season winner, we treasure the guys who get etched into history upon Stanley's Cup.
So the biggest item of note came from the fallout of a missed hit late in the third period. Brooks Orpik tried to line up Derek Stepan for an open-ice check, Stepan tried to juke out of the way and their knees knocked. It was a far cry from Bryan Marchment's many attempts to injure. But it provided John Tortorella the perfect opportunity to make himself the story and the egomaniacal blowhard did just that, ranting at the Pens postgame.
Those who hold the coach in higher regard than I may see it as a masterstroke - Torts made himself the story, deflecting media focus from the embarrassing loss itself, the sieve of a goaltender he started, the unacceptable performance of many of his players ... but my opinion was that the hit just gave Torts the opportunity to grandstand yet again and he took it.
Did Torts say anything that us fans haven't been claiming about the Pens for years? No. But all of Torts' sound and fury signifies nothing when the coach doesn't back it up. If he was so upset why didn't he send out someone to exact revenge? His sense of honour? Ha, we know that's a joke - the guy has rarely taken the honourable road. Because Torts didn't want to risk any of his players? Mike Rupp has contributed less than nothing for months and the revenge would be worth far more than the cost of a minor suspension to him. Because Torts didn't want to risk the points? Ha. His sleepwalking team was down three goals with four and a half minutes to go against a side that was playing for something (home ice vs. the Flyers).
So instead addressing the issues with his own team or attempting to exact vengeance, Torts made himself the center of attention yet again and gave the Pens bulletin board material for their playoff run. Stellar work coach.
*It does need to be noticed just how cheap and dirty both Crosby and Malkin are when they don't have the puck. Saw several late hits on the numbers and stick jabs by both of them. Want to send a message coach? Don't swear in the media, give no quarter - tell your guys not to take sh-t from anyone.
*The only player who didn't was Ryan Callahan, who was by far the most involved of the Rangers (as per usual). The captain doesn't have a dimmer - he is all-in, all the time. It is wonderful to watch but a bit nerve racking when you realize how he puts himself in the line of fire and can be injured at any time, even in a meaningless game.
*The best thing to come out of the evening was the rest that Henrik received. His wrist got to relax and he got to see just how important he is to his team's success. The moronic Pittsburgh fans chanted MVP for Malkin when the Russian was left alone and scored an easy goal on a backup goaltender. Big deal. #Hank4Hart
*Of course, Hank's night off meant that Marty Biron had to play and the former Islander proved incapable of giving the Rangers a chance to win. Biron put his team behind the eight ball yet again - he has allowed the first goal of the game in 10 of his 20 starts, and 16 of the 50 goals he gave up this season came in the first 10 minutes of the opening period; someone doesn't come ready to play. And even after the 10 minute mark Biron was jumpy and unsettled. Both the Kennedy and Park goals completely fell upon his shoulders and they were the ones that ultimately decided the game.
*Stu Bickel was stapled to the bench for 20 minutes after the Kennedy goal, because it was he who kicked the puck right to the Penguin's stick. Right? Stu was not responsible for the bad rebound but Tortorella's selective accountability struck again and the big defender had to sit. None of the other defensemen missed a shift for any of their faux pas.
*The Ranger power play went just 1-6 over 11:52 of man advantage time, including 47 seconds of 5-on-3. They were handily kept to the outside for the majority of the time and the one time they crashed the crease they scored.
*Del Zaster saw 7:20 of power play time and contributed nothing. All night long he took himself out of position looking for backdoor goals and the one chance he got he blew, shooting the puck right at the logo on Fleury's chest.
*If the team was indeed attempting to win, how was it that Brad Richard$ saw less playing time than Dubi, Arty and Step?
*Nice to see Dubi score, one can only hope that it will spark him towards getting his game back together. An involved Dubinsky is a powerful player.
*John Mitchell has not scored in 33 games and has just one assist in his last 12. He also has all of eight penalty minutes in 62 games. Wait a second, John Mitchell has played 62 NHL games this season?
*The Whale were off, why not call someone up to give one of the stars a breather? Why not dress John Scott and/or Jeff Woywitka?
*Whatever, one more meaningless game remaining before things get real. It will be interesting to see what kind of effort we see on Saturday.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Kris Letang - one goal and one assist.
2-Chris Kunitz - one goal and one assist.
1-Evgeni Malkin - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Kunitz - Every now and then you see just how good Kunitz can be.
2-Jordan Staal - A consistent, two-way player who was involved all night and put up a pair of primary assists.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - No injuries.