Sunday, February 24, 2013

8-7-2: Blueshirts Go Yellow

That the Rangers entered the Bell Centre Saturday night and had their bells rung by the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge was of no surprise. For years the New York team that basks in the footlights of Broadway has wilted in the spotlight of Montreal.

But not since Dan Girardi watched Marian Gaborik get his face beaten in by Dan Carcillo have the Rangers stood by and allowed their opponent free physical reign. Max Pacioretty aimed for Ryan McDonagh's numbers and took to the air to hit them. And, after typically wasting the ensuing power play, did anyone seek vengeance? Nope.

Too bad Hank wasn't on the ice, at least you know he woulda been willing to hit Pacioretty.

Backup Marty Biron was hit not once but twice and did anyone run Carey Price? Nope. The second time it was Travis Moen who crashed the crease and Brian Boyle took exception. The six-foot-seven Ranger shoved the smaller Hab and shared some angry words with him, but his gloves remained firmly on his hands.

The grit that helped define this franchise last season is mostly gone. The heart and soul guys who stepped up, sans Callahan, were sent away or allowed to walk and the returns aren't making the cut. Arron Asham was useless before he began bailing out of the lineup with 'back spasms.' Taylor Pyatt is a big boy but has just 12 bouts on his resume of 772 games. Jeff Halpern is simply not a physical fellow. And the various call-ups and kids live in perpetual fear of failure, because Tortorella will unleash his fury upon them.

Toughness took this team to the Eastern Conference Finals last year and the lack thereof is a prime reason for the failures of the present. Sure the skill is struggling something fierce but this side was able to survive similar slumps last season by grinding though games. Either Torts has to start encouraging these kids to just lay it all out there, play their game and grow into a team or Sather needs to make some moves. And soon.

Just a few Late Hits:

*Said it in the offseason - offense wasn't the Rangers' problem during the playoffs. The lack of trustworthy defensemen cost them the Cup and it is killing them now. You simply can't have three reliable blueliners and expect to succeed. And now that McDonagh and Girardi might be out? We're screwed.

*PleaseOhPleaseOhPleaseOhPleaseOhPlease let McD and G be ok. PleaseOhPleaseOhPlease.

*In what world is Matt Gilroy a better NHL option than Steve Eminger? Granted, an ideal world would see neither one of them anywhere near the NHL but Hobey is simply horrible. He had a chance to clear the puck on the first goal and was outmuscled, and then he passed the puck right to Erik Cole. Hobey was well behind the play when Gally got the second goal and he was stumbling around senselessly on the third.

*I wonder if I would get kicked out of the Garden for carrying a sign that read "No One Kills Power Plays Like The Rangers" ... We stared in wonder at Stepan's power play goal last week and at Eller's on this evening. Both goals had plenty in common: players moving and quick passing. There was no standing around, trying to figure out fissures in the defensive wall. The guys were skating around the zone with the knowledge of who to pass to even before they had the puck. The regular Ranger unit has become lazy, uncreative and predictable, and we are paying for it night after night.

*Welcome to the NHL Christian Thomas, barely noticed you. But the same can be said for Miller, Mashinter, Kreider and even Hagelin. The kids are gripping their sticks too tight and, too often, are not in position to make things happen. Not even Gretzky could succeed if he was stuck on the ice with Boyle or an uninterested Brad Richard$.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Erik Cole - one goal and one assist.
2-Lars Eller - one goal and one assist.
1-Alex Galchenyuk - one goal and one assist.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Pacioretty - Traded two minutes in the box for the best Ranger blueliner. Great deal. Could have made a case for Prust to get this, as he played in all situations and had a big hand in Cole's goal.
2-Gally - Unlike his U.S. teammate Miller, Galchenyuk skated unfettered out there and made things happen with his hard work and skill. His goal was a bit of a fluke but it came as the result of hard work.
1-Eller - The Dane did quite well; he's finally making the Halak deal appear closer to even.

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