On a day when the NHL had four of the top teams pitted against each other - Detroit/Chicago, Montreal/Boston - it was painfully clear that these Rangers are not in the upper class. Those games were breathtaking affairs, featuring dazzling displays of skill and physicality between teams that would do anything to win. This was not.
The Blueshirts had nine minutes of man advantage time, scored not one but two power play goals and still needed the silly skills competition to beat a bad Buffalo squad. A Buffalo squad that was on the second night of a back-to-back and was missing their top player.
The Rangers have to be better - much, much better - if they want to reach the upper echelon and compete for the Cup.
take Paul Mara's head off a few years back? Kaleta is the NHL's poster boy for everything that is wrong with the instigator penalty. If someone had been allowed to beat him down years ago he wouldn't be able to keep hurting players. Hell, he probably wouldn't be in the NHL anymore.
*The incident goes straight to the heart of my continual argument: the Rangers need to send a message around the league that they are not to be screwed with. Night after night opponents are taking liberties with the best Blueshirts and that shouldn't be allowed to happen. Torts seems to preach a 'turn the other cheek, get them back on the power play' philosophy that rarely works. On this night they scored a pair of power play goals but this was the exception, not the rule.
*While the first thing that should have happened was DZ or Cally (or Step or Nash) chasing down Kaleta and kicking his ass. Instead DZ turned to Regehr and was wrapped up, Cally was grabbed by Ott and Kaleta was calmly escorted off the ice by a lone linesman. Ok, fine, they didn't get a chance. So the very next shift someone needs to pull a Scott Gomez and knock Ryan Miller (or Gerbe, Ennis, Pominville or Hodgson) out of Buffalo's lineup for a long time. Bet other teams would think twice before hitting the Ranger stars if their own stars would be under the crosshairs.
*But, even then, the least they could have done was discourage further physicality. While the Rangers were 'taking the higher ground' Zdeno Chara beat the tar out of Alexei Emelin after Emelin cross checked Tyler Seguin. Think opponents will go after Bruins skill when they have Chara and/or Lucic lurking about to keep them accountable?
*But instead of throwing punches, the Blueshirts landed two blows on the scoreboard with not one but two power play goals. Stepan scored from the doorstep and Nash wristed a softball past Miller stickside. Power play problems done? Nope. Both goals came within the first 50 seconds of the five minute major, meaning the Rangers blew eight other minutes of man advantage time - and they allowed a shorthanded goal while at it. You can not be an elite team in this NHL by being so grossly incompetent on the power play.
*Richard$ quick recovering from what appeared to be a certain shoulder separation/collarbone break makes me believe that Magic Johnson's cure for AIDS is a heal-all.
*Prior to the fall, Richie was culpable on the Stafford goal. He took the defensive zone draw against Grigorenko and even won the puck back a foot but he was outmuscled by the tenacious rookie, who slid the puck back to Stafford for the shot from the slot. It was a terrific play by the young Russian, and sad for the Rangers top center.
*The double edged sword of Del Zaster. DZ gained the zone and made two quick (for him) passes on the Nash goal, then couldn't keep the puck in the zone - falling down in the process - on the shorthanded goal.
*Joe Micheletti is a moron. But you knew that. Wish the MSG brass knew it too.
*Wonder if the best Blueshirt soldiers will be able to survive much more of this. Cally, 26 minutes. Girardi and Staal, 27. Even in a shortened season like this, playing humongonous minutes is not good for the health of the players or for the team.
*Six minutes for Halpern, four for Bickel - thank goodness those two will be well rested for the playoffs.
*Think Buffalo would be willing to trade Andrej Sekera? Just the kind of solid guy the Blueshirt blueliners need.
*Ranted about the Ranger power play but it was also amazing how inept the Sabres special team was without Vanek. The Austrian does everything for them, battling in front of the net, moving the puck from the point, getting shots on goal from the circles ... and without him the Rangers were easily able to keep the population of Pominville down.
*Still, the Blueshirts have to be more disciplined. Way too many stupid penalties, but that is getting to be par for the course nowadays.
3-Nathan Gerbe - one goal.
2-J.T. Miller - Um, nine shots attempted, three that went on net? Two hits?
1-Rick Nash - one shootout goal and one goal and one assist during regulation.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Steve Ott - It was very sad to see Dallas deal Ott East, because he is one of those players you can admire from a distance. He's a skilled shift disturber who does anything to help his team win.
2-Cally - The captain comes through. Again.
1-Nash - The best of a bad bunch. Nash came out on the good side of the equation on this night as his two goals and his perfect feed to Step outweighed his inexcusably poor penalties.