Tuesday, May 1, 2012

R2, G2: Midseason Mediocrity

Outside of the loud, towel-waving crowd at MSG on Monday night it was all but impossible to tell that there was a second round playoff game going on. The Rangers showed little intensity as they played down to the level of their SouthLeast Division opponent and paid for it by losing 3-2.

Washington's top players were virtual nonfactors as their lower line nobodies easily held off the Blueshirts. Dale Hunter's minions were able to keep the Rangers from challenging their minor league netminder, even with their most physical defenseman in the pressbox. Just like in their late-regular season matchup, the Blueshirts made little effort to get rebounds and barely had any bodies around the net ... the one time someone actually set up in front they scored. Torts tossed meat into Hunter's grinders and the result was not tasty.

It was not entirely like Game 2 of the Ottawa series in that the Blueshirts were coming off of a win and did not capitalize upon it (get it, capital-ize? Bah dum, dum, chhh). They were less physical than they were in the opener, they overused and tired out their top players, and they made it easy for the opposing goaltender to make saves. Sure the result of the Ottawa series was good but something tells me that the Caps' captain isn't going to lie down and leave the series for a few games the way the Sens' one did.

Late Hits:

*Both teams hit posts - Ovie for the Caps and DZ for the Rangers - so the iron can not be an excuse.

*The officiating as well. Wocka Wocka Stephen Walkom may be a bad joke but he was a bad joke for both teams. Gotta love the Garden - minutes after scoring a power play they roared "These Refs Suck" as the inevitable retribution call resulted in a power play goal against.

*All three goals against were utterly inexcusable. Stu Bickel's bad turnover resulted in an odd man rush that Del Zaster stood and watched until Mike Knuble tapped home the game-opening tally. Hank thought he was Brodeur or Turco and wanders from his net only to turn over the puck and flop across his crease - and McDonagh came over to cover and kicked in the puck himself. Boyle blew a big defensive zone faceoff, the puck came out to Ovie, no Ranger came out to Ovie (as they were shorthanded), and Ovie fired through traffic.

*Nice of Ovechkin to pull out the Tom Poti hand-to-his-ear move after the goal. Wanted to beat the hell out of ole Peanut Butter for that, wanted to beat the hell out of Ovie. And the Rangers themselves are not big on message sending so they let it slip as they scrambled, ineffectually, to find an equalizer.

*No Capital played less than 9:29. Four Rangers played less than five minutes.

*What was worse: Torts juggling lines and taking a too many men on the ice penalty in a playoff game, or a Ranger (I forget who, Stralman maybe?) standing around for 5-10 seconds in the second period as the team set up their breakout only to ice the puck?

*Nice tic-tac-toe play by DZ, Gabby and Richard$ for the first Ranger goal. It was a blueprinted play that has worked before, and the only time Gaborik was noticeable the entire night.

*Hate to play the 'what if?' game but if the Ranger power play scored four minutes into the first period perhaps things would have turned out quite differently.

*As for the 'what if?' on the Chris Kreider breakaway, well, what can you do? He is a kid playing in his seventh NHL game. He came in just a little too fast and waited to shoot just a little too long.

*Love me some Hagelin, as is well known, but just one assist in six playoff games despite getting serious top-six time is not enough.

*Know that a lot of people were delighted to see Boyle return but he was not 100% and it showed.

*What? No free tee shirts? Cheap Dolan. Haha.

*Ruslan Fedotenko continues to justify his place on the roster by being one of the best Blueshirts. His hard work in the hard parts of the ice continue to be a high point of the Ranger play. Only wish Pruster was as effective.

*It has been great that Marcus Johansson has been kept so quiet through two games for the Capitals. If this kid gets hot ...

*PHW Three Stars
3-Alex Ovechkin - one goal.
2-Michael Del Zotto - two assists.
1-Braden Holtby - 26 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cally - Richard$ was definitely into the action and McDonagh put forth another top notch performance (aside from the goal off his skate) but Captain Cally clearly was not going to go down without a fight. He hit, he battled, he scored ... hopefully he shamed his teammates into raising their levels for Game 3.
2-Ovie - 'Oh, yeah? I suck? Suck on this game-winning goal.'
1-Brooks Laich - Really, really starting to hate this guy. Plays in every situation, wins faceoffs, hits and creates scoring chances. Brooks Laich.


Pete said...

I hate when Hank travels out of the crease, but I'm not sure what other options he had on the play, and it was shitty luck that it slowed down coming through the trapezoid, but, you have to give him credit; he made the save on that dive to get back into the crease.

th said...

Why like the Rangers? Follow whatever team is playing your perfect brand of hockey at the time. I think you should stop being a season ticket holder because it is clouding your reality. You feel the Rangers should be perfect every game because you are paying money to see them. Sometimes game situations do not go the way they are supposed too. It is life, sometimes you play well and win and sometimes you play well and lose. Sometimes you play badly and win and sometimes you play badly and lose. If you have played then you know what I mean. Relax, the Rangers will never live up to your standards unless they play a Pee Wee hockey team. They had a great year and did far beyond what was expected. Try to be happy for once.

Pete said...

I think there's a difference between expecting a team to be perfect and expecting them to play up to their potential. I can't imagine any true fan NOT being frustrated with the way this team has played this year, regardless of the record and the outcome. And to a strong degree, it is the same story that frustrates Rangers fans every year, 1994 not inclusive; the story of an original 6, premiere team, chock full of $ and players who should be "superstars" not playing that way, supported by a larger group of players that are really over-achieving. Just with Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov, and Brandon Dubinsky on this team, there is no way, coming into this season, you would say "yeah, this is going to be a grind-it-out season. They are going to have to fight for goals and sit on leads." There's enough leadership, talent, youth, and potential in those four men alone to piece together 2 lines, of any combination, that should be scoring goals. However, this team, that has been in first place for pretty much the whole season ends up 13th in goals-for, with a deficit of 56 goals between them and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were without their star goal scorer for the vast majority of the season. And scoring is just one area that this team was lacking.

The point is, you can't be a season ticket holder, go to every home game, watch every away game, etc etc, and just be happy with the wins. You can't watch a television show and just be happy that the bad guy gets caught most of the time. You can't go to the opera and just enjoy the last act. Fandom means you're in it for the whole performance, for the stuff that happens off the ice, for the intrigue, for the players and their personalities, to root, and yes, even to boo, bitch, and moan, when the performance is bad, in spite of the outcome.

If the Rangers were to win the cup this season, they would be akin to a band winning a music award for "Best Album" for an album that had two songs with a ton of airplay, and only one good song that the true fans appreciate. The "critics" will laud and praise the accomplishment, but the true fans will have to be just content until the next album comes out. That's just the way it is.

Pete said...

Or, to put it another way, if being a fan was dependent solely on results, everyone would be a Yankees fan. :/

Scotty Hockey said...

Thank you Pete.