Heading home from the bout I began thinking of the Ranger game as a boxing match and found the best characterization was the classic rope-a-dope. For those who don't know the sweet science, Wiki explains what the rope-a-dope is:
"The rope-a-dope is performed by a boxer assuming a protected stance while allowing his opponent to hit him, providing only enough counter-attack to avoid the referee thinking the boxer is no longer able to continue and thus ending the match via technical knockout. The plan is to cause the opponent to 'punch himself out' and make mistakes which the boxer can then exploit in a counter-attack."Pretty much sums up the Ranger/Islander game quite well. The Blueshirts largely sat back, outworked and outchanced by the Isles. Hank absorbed punch after punch until the ice opened in OT and Girardi slid down the wing, exploited Josh Bailey's blunder and scored the winner.
It was the necessary result, but it sure wasn't pretty and it doesn't bode well for the future - as we saw last season, all of those punches take their toll. Hank, McD, G, Cally ... all of the principle players are getting ground down long before the final bell and an ugly knockout is on the way unless Torts finds a new philosophy that works.
Just a few Late Hits:
*Both pugilists were saved by the bell once, or rather the ringing of the puck hitting the iron. Ok, I'm done with the boxing analogies - but they do work.
*Girardi's goal came after Derick Brassard gained the blue line and threaded the needle to the defenseman skating down the wing. Re-read that again. Brassard gained the blue line. He didn't throw the puck in the corner, he didn't go for a change ... he used his skill to skate in, draw the defense and make a great feed. Imagine that, a Ranger making the most of his ability rather than letting himself be shackled by the unimaginative system.
*Colin McDonald nails Steve Eminger, Taylor Pyatt comes by and bumps McDonald to let him know it wasn't cool. Penalty is called on McDonald, whistle blows. So my Tw-enemy Arron Asham skates in and slams him against the boards. Doesn't fight him, just gives a late shove. Two minutes for roughing. The message is not sent, the power play is negated. Remind me again what the point of Asham's presence is?
*Then again, the Ranger power play went 0-4. Maybe giving Brian Boyle - he of zero power play goals in his previous 170 games (including playoffs) - three minutes of ice time wasn't a wise move. An aside: why won't Torts try the great-skating John Moore on the man advantage unit?
*Notice that the second period Ranger post hit came off the rush, not once they got established in the zone with their usual tired, predictable power play.
*Love Cally: Lubo nailed Hagelin on the endboards as the first period buzzer sounded and the captain goes over to him. He didn't pull an Asham and do something stupid like slamming the guy from behind, he just let the Slovak know it was uncool. Lubo didn't lay another hit the rest of the night.
*How is Kyle Okposo allowed to talk trash to anyone? He plays on the Islanders, and is not a particularly good hockey player. Just shut up dude. His entire career has been a joke since he left the USHL.
*Darroll Powe really is Blair Betts II. Tenacious, good wheels and absolutely no luck around the net.
3-Evgeni Nabokov - 19 saves.
2-Dan Girardi - one goal.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 29 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Tavares - Ok, maybe this guy has some skill. Maybe.
2-G - Over 29 minutes of ice time, helped Hank shut the Isles out, had the awareness to break down the wing as Bailey stumbled and scored the game winner.
1-Hank - Any other goaltender and the Rangers lose this one 5-0. Easy.