Tuesday, May 22, 2012
R3, G4: The Double Edged Sword Of Truculence
Not to get all Brian Burke on you but truculence is one of the pillars of this sport of hockey that we love (and a fun word to say). It is a byproduct of the passion that its players have for winning. 'I want to win more than you do and I will do anything and everything in my power to do it.' When truculence is harnessed, it is as powerful as a slapshot. But when it gets loose, it hurts more than it helps.
In the first period Ryan McDonagh battled with Adam Henrique and was goaded into fighting. The Rangers have needed a good fight or three in recent weeks but never got it. And they didn't get it this time either. McDonagh lost his mind and his gloves and got 5 minutes for his trouble. The shame he was feeling in the box was heightened when the Devils scored a few minutes later, all but sealing their victory given the circumstances - the zombie-like effort given by the Blueshirt offense.
But, as mentioned, truculence is a tool for good as well and it was used as such in the third period. Mike Rupp, likely the best Ranger all night (man it pains me to write that), capped off his performance with a great hit on Peter Harrold. The ref inexplicably called a rough on the clean check and, perhaps responding to a wisecrack from Brodeur, Rupp gave the goaltender a little shove. Brodeur did his usual acting routine and a scrum broke out. Torts went nuts on the Devils' OHL coach and, of little surprise, the team responded soonafter by breaking Brodeur's shutout. It was not a coincidence, and it should have came two periods prior.
No matter how the media want to build shot blocking up, the success secured by the Rangers so far this season has been through the proper use of truculence, whether it be Prust fighting to set the mood or Callahan hitting everything that moves. The Blueshirts win when they channel that violence and use it to dictate play. Recent games have seen them reacting, not acting - and they have indeed escaped with a few wins - but they will not get the big win unless they start using that truculence again the right way.
The only way.
*Del Zastrous. If the excuse is indeed a death in his family then he shouldn't have been playing. As the saying goes, if you aren't all there you shouldn't be there at all. And if he took the night off to mourn, no one would have blamed him for it (not even me, grandmas are special). But this begs the question, what is his excuse for making those same mistakes throughout the season?
*DZ's benching was a major topic of conversation but where was Arty Anisimov in this one?
*And, hell, where was Brad Richard$? Twenty quiet minutes of ice time. The best players need to be the best players and Parise was the Devils' best player. As mentioned above, I believe Mike Rupp was the best Ranger. Ugh.
*Have to ask again, why would Prust have headhunted Volchenkov? The Devils defender opened the door for a Ranger comeback at the end of the first period with a bad penalty. Sadly the Rangers were only able to get one good chance in the two minutes - from Kreider (who else?) - and Brodeur made his best save of the night.
*Carl Hagelin, the Swedish Scourge of the NHL. A serial offender! Credit to the Ranger PK for killing both ridiculous, fabricated penalties off. Wonder what would have happened had he scored off of the Salvador turnover in the first period, as Zajac made it a 2-0 game a minute or so later.
*Might be nice for Boyle to recapture whatever magic he had before the first round headshot right about now. He hasn't been using his size, he hasn't been going to the tough parts of the ice, he hasn't done much of anything. Except grow some great facial hair. So at least he has that going for him.
*Said for a long time that the Rangers are the Kings East or the Kings are the Rangers West as the teams have such similar constitutions. Sutter pointed out the other day that L.A. scores a lot of goals off deflections and through traffic - which is clearly the case with the Rangers as the Blueshirts D keeps putting up points. Feds got his goal by using a Devil D as a screen, Gabby would be wise to follow suit. Brodeur is easily getting a bead on the puck as it leaves the Slovak's stick.
*Anyone want to go fish Sean Avery's skates out of the Hudson for him? But seriously, if Dubi and Zuke are able to take contact, they should certainly be given a shot in Game 5 - this team needs some fresh legs.
*Saw that Ranger fans were allowed to skate on the Garden ice ahead of the viewing party. That is awesome, credit to the team for finally being fan-friendly. That being said, I'm quite glad I didn't use a vacation day from work to go either to the game or the Garden.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Bryce Salvador - one goal and one assist.
2-Martin Brodeur - 28 saves.
1-Zach Parise - two goals and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Zajac - Travis has chemistry with Parise thanks to spending many seasons together. There is little to no chemistry among the Ranger forwards.
2-Salvador - Turnover to Hagelin aside, solid game from Salvador. Three goals in the playoffs, none in 82 regular season games.
1-Parise - Don't care what team he ends up on next year as long as it is out West.