Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Peepin' Foes Playoff Edition: Washington Capitals

The Rangers made the playoffs by the skin of their collective teeth and somehow ended up securing the six spot, setting up yet another series against the Washington Capitals.

As most everyone has observed, it is the fourth time the teams have met over the last five postseasons. The Rangers lost the first two of those, before squeaking out a seven-game win last season. Historically they are 3-4 in series against the Caps with the name John Druce still haunting my dreams.

When Do We Play:
Game 1: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. at Washington
Game 2: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. at Washington
Game 3: May 6th, 7:30 p.m. at MSG
Game 4: May 8th, 7:30 p.m. at MSG
*Game 5: May 10th, 7:30 p.m. at Washington
*Game 6: May 12th, TBD at MSG
* Game 7: May 13th, TBD at Washington
* - if necessary

Where We Are: In the playoffs, can you believe it? The Rangers didn't exactly back in to the playoff spot but they didn't exactly show they wanted it until the very end. (Note: That is the same exact line I wrote in 2011.)

Where They Are: SouthLeast Division champs ended the season as one of the hottest teams in the league, tearing off 12-1-2 run to close out the asterisked year.

What Happened This Season: The Blueshirts went 2-0-1 against DC: Sunday. Feb 17th the Rangers won 2-1 at MSG, my recap. Sunday March 10th Rangers won 4-1 at the Phone Booth, my recap. And Sunday, March 24th Caps won 3-2 at MSG in a shootout, my recap.

What Happened Past Seasons: I'd rather not rehash John 'F-ing' Druce or the tumultuous Tortorella debacle in his debut season (for my original recaps of that awfulness, just check out April 2009). Last season's seven-game second round series between the teams bordered on torture. The Rangers dominated Game 1, slept through Game 2, played the most boring three OT game ever in Game 3, had a typical letdown in Game 4, got last-second heroics after a mostly morbid Game 5, gave up an early goal on the way to allowing DC to win Game 6 and, finally, finishing off the series in a solid Game 7.

Who To Watch For: Tom Poti ... no, he's out with a bad back. Wojtek Wolski ... no, he still stinks and rarely plays. The main man is Mike Green. Yeah, there is that Ovechkin guy and, sure, Nick Backstrom is a sweet Swede who abuses his fellow countryman Lundqvist with regularity, but Green makes the motor run. After the Caps lost to the Islanders on March 26th, Green racked up 18 points over the next 15 games and (as I mentioned above) Washington went 12-1-2. His defensive deficiencies are outweighed by his offensive prowess: he can pass, he can shoot, he can quarterback a power play and he can do it all at high speed. Basically, Green is a good version of Del Zaster. Also Brooks Laich, if he is deemed healthy enough to play - that guy is annoying to play against. GMGM ridiculously overpaid for Martin Erat at the deadline and Erat has contributed just one goal in nine games since. Doubt he will reward GMGM's faith with a top performance in this series but you never know.

What To Watch For: Aside from the obvious - the Rangers making Braden Holby look like a real goaltender by inflating his numbers with half-hearted shots - the special teams deserve scrutiny. The Rangers take bad penalties and have a terrible power play. The Caps power play is outstanding but their penalty kill is abominable. Something has got to give. Hank will have to make more saves like this, as the bad Ranger blueline is sure to let Ovie get that open every now and again (unless Staal comes back in time).

Also Check Out: The Caps have a big blogosphere - lotsa bored people in politics I guess - but, frankly, I just head to Japer's Rink for all my info. JP is the man. A few other options are Russian Machine Never Breaks, Caps Outsider, Caps Insider, Homer McFanboy, and On Frozen Blog

Monday, April 29, 2013

26-18-4: All's Well That Ends Ok

The Rangers completed their regular season schedule by beating a dead horse, destroying the lifeless, already-eliminated New Jersey Devils 4-0 in a game that really wasn't even that close.

The Blueshirts pressed the action from the opening puck drop and the final result was really never in doubt. The Devils' season was done, and they knew it. For the Rangers, it was good to spread some of the ice time around - Nash and Richards got less than 15, Chris Kreider way up to 15:05. Hell, Dan Girardi only saw 22:39 of ice time, the lowest in over a month and eight minutes less than last game.

Hard to say if the win will have an effect on the team heading into the playoffs, they did just lose to the worst team in the league a few days prior. But it is always a plus to beat our Hudson River rivals. Now it is on to the Capitals, yet again. Oh boy. (More on them in an upcoming post.)

Late Hits:

*The "We Want Marty!" chants were awesome. The "Mmmmmmaaaaaarrrrrrrtttttttyyyy"s notsomuch. Legitimately believe that much of the Garden believed that it was Fatso filling the New Jersey net instead of Moose.

*Love Hank and congratulations to him for his 51st career shutout but I'd like to see him get even one nono without wearing a mask. Bet he wouldn't be as willing to play shots off his head ...

*The continued disgrace (and likely fatal flaw) of this franchise: an 0-6 power play.

*Four minor penalties taken, two hooks, a trip and an interference - all lazy calls that come from being out of position.

*Step, Cally and Hagelin. What do they all have in common? They're all Ranger draft picks who spent time in Hartford, are selfless in their play and willing to do anything for the franchise. It is of little wonder they are working so well together, we've seen 'Pack' players click consistently over the last few years only to have the head coach break them up. Remember Dubi/Prucha/Dawes? Perhaps it is time to leave them alone.

*Man, would Cally's shorthanded breakaway in the first period been a wonderful goal. Damn.

*On the first Nash goal Richard$ lost the faceoff but hustled after the puck and got it out to Nash for the easy finish. The second saw him perfectly pick Zuke out on the far side for the fast feed to Nash for another gimme. Having two playmakers provide the puck to the sniper is a nice luxury, but come the playoffs even the fearless Norwegian will find it tough carrying the physical load for the line.

*With Ryane Clowe out, Taylor Pyatt has to be tougher. He has the size, he has the ability ... he played nearly 18 minutes and was invisible.

*Haven't seen Kovalchuk castrated like that since the days of Sean Avery.

*Del Zaster, geez. It was comical watching him fumble the puck and fall all over himself. It won't be as amusing in the playoffs.

*Dammit, yet another season without receiving Blueshirts off our Backs. I wonder why? I think it woulda been quite amusing to hand my Scotty Hockey sweater to either Asham or DZ.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 20 saves.
2-Ryan Callahan - one goal and one assist.
1-Rick Nash - two goals.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Richard$ - One of his best performances of the season; not like that is saying much, but still worthy of recognition.
2-Cally - Love the Adam Graves comparison made by the NBC crew. I've always said it was a MASSIVE mistake to give Brian Leetch the post-Messier captaincy. Incredible player, not a leader.
1-Step - He doesn't wear a letter ... yet. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

25-18-4: Cally Came Though

Second to last game of the season, against the third-worst team in the LEast, one of the worst goaltenders in the NHL, blown two-goal lead, overtime ... THE RANGERS ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks to Ryan Callahan the Blueshirts beat the hapless Hurricanes 4-3 in OT on Thursday night to secure a spot in the postseason. Woo hoo and yippee. Many of the Rangers' near-fatal flaws were on display and they nearly sent the season to what woulda been a hellish end against the Devils (because you just know the Jets woulda won). But Dave Cally was there. Dave's Cally's a killer! The Rangers are a mess.

Coming off the failure in Florida the Blueshirts got off to a solid start with two first period goals but after the intermission they stopped play, they stopped skating, they stopped playing smart hockey. And Carolina came back with three in a row. If not for the fortunate bounce off the endboards and Dan Ellis' incompetence, the Rangers would have lost to the Hurricanes - not a good sign with the playoffs starting in just a few days.

But, you have to be in it to win it and all that jazz so at least that mission is accomplished. The next will be far tougher, and this team has to be far better if they are to finish that one ...

Late Hits:

*Zuccarello vs. Skinner was the most adorable puck tussle since this.

*Marek Hrivik missed much of this season due to a concussion but he returned and scored in the Whale's final game. Perhaps giving him a shot would have been a better option than plugging Hobey Gilroy in Arron Asham's spot. Gilroy is incapable of playing at a NHL level on defense, what would possess Torts to put him in on offense? Even Stu Bickel would have been better.

*Congrats to Asham for spawning. Hopefully he will decide to be Mr. Mom and quit his job to care for the baby.

*Dan Girardi, 30 minutes and 32 seconds of ice time. The sad thing is that you can already seeing all of the mileage taking its toll on him - and McDonagh for that matter - but Torts just heaves them over the boards again and again and again. John Moore had another solid start, maybe he should be given more responsibility and ice time.

*If Marc Staal decides to join his brothers - if he ever recovers - the Rangers should try to get Justin Faulk in the deal (if Marc doesn't go the free agent route). That kid can play.

*Del Zaster was listed with two assists for the Rangers, neither of which he particularly worked hard to deserve. There were two shots between DZ's pass and Brassard's goal and on the Richard$, well, Dan Ellis scored that one. The one helper DZ should have been credited with was an assist on Tlusty's go-ahead goal, what a senseless, stupid feed. However, prior to that, DZ was the one Ranger in a good position on Ruutu's game-tying tally - he had the pass locked down on the two-on-one and Hank just bricked on the shot.

*Seriously, a Carolina journalist made DZ one of the stars. Hilarious.

*Also amusing? Dan Ellis. He ranks 41st in GAA out of 45 goaltenders to play 15 or more games this year and 29th in save percentage.

*Car 61, where are you? Would be nice for Rick Nash to come through with a big goal against these bad teams. He has a three game goal drought and is in danger of his first sub-20 goal season since his rookie year.

*Hope Clowe is ok, really hope he doesn't play against the Devils. Staal rushed back after being hit by his brother and it cost him (and the Rangers) down the road. Best to err on the side of caution.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Michael Del Zotto - two assists.
2-Jiri Tlusty - two goals.
1-Ryan Callahan - one goal and one assist.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Step - Where would the Rangers be without his offensive explosion this season?
2-Tlusty - The same guy who sent out nude pix when he was a Maple Leaf really has had himself a solid season - he has four more goals than Nash.
1-Cally - Really running out of superlatives for this guy. He's good.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

24-18-4: Failure In Florida

Was it arrogance? Was it ambivalence? Was it alcohol? Whatever it was, the Rangers had a chance to seize a playoff spot on Tuesday and bricked, falling 3-2 to the worst team in the NHL, the Florida Panthers.

For those counting, this was the second loss by the Blueshirts to the Putty Tats this season and it came just five days after the lone win, a 6-1 curbstomp at the Garden. So the Rangers could very well have entered the evening overconfident, overlooking their injury-plagued opponents. They could have also soaked in too much sun and were too sleepy to play some puck. Or, having won eight of their previous 11, they could have over-indulged over their two nights in Miami and - without a morning skate to sweat out some of the booze - had to handle raging hangovers as well as Kevin Dineen's kids.

No matter what, it was an inexcusable failure in a season chock-full of them. You know, just being in this position is ridiculous. Sure, there was no way the Rangers would repeat last year's performance with a largely new cast of characters, but to be behind the Islanders, to be praying for Winnipeg to lose and to be (still, always) praying for important power play goals is ... preposterous.

So, I believe to make the playoffs the Rangers need to take two points out of their last two games or for the Jets to lose to Montreal on Thursday. Go Habs Go.

(I feel dirty saying that, but the Canadiens probably have a better chance than the Rangers do.)

Late Hits:

*The boys really responded to the beating Asham took at the hands of the best mustache in hockey, didn't they?

*What is it about Jacob Markstrom? The Rangers threw 83 shots at the Swede over the two games he started and they didn't force him to make a single tough stop. Not a one. Yet again the Blueshirts drove the puck right into the body of the big kid, and stood and watched as he stopped them.

*Del Zaster is continuing to be a massive liability. On the all-important first goal he let Huberdeau into the zone untouched, stopped, picked up another Panther to cover and screened Hank as Kuba's shot came in. His own-zone awfulness aside, DZ is hardly helping on the other side of the ice. He has just one goal in his last 38 games and four assists in his last 14 - three of which were secondary.

*Taylor Pyatt scored the game-tying tally after Mats Zuccarello earned the blueline and found a driving John Moore. So, of course, Torts had the team relying on his favourite gameplan the rest of the game - dump, chase and grind.

*Pyatt was standing in the crease when he scored, Brassard was standing in the crease when he scored. Amazing what happens when guys are willing to work the slot, right?

*The Rangers successfully killed all three of their power plays. Man, are they good at doing that.

*If Torts doesn't trust Kreider to play more than four minutes against the worst team in the league, when is he ever going to trust him?

*On the topic of ice time, nearly 28 minutes for Girardi. Ludicrous. In the off chance the Rangers even make the playoffs, they can't possibly last long in that torture test thanks to all of the milage on Dan-O and Hank.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Marcel Goc - one goal.
2-Tomas Fleischmann - one goal and one assist.
1-Jacob Markstrom - 36 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Huberdeau - A consistent offensive threat, this kid could have himself one helluva NHL career if the Cats build a team around him.
2-Zuke - The best of the Blueshirts on this night, the fearless 25-year-old carried the offense.
1-Markstrom - Why not give him some credit for not allowing any soft goals?

Monday, April 22, 2013

24-17-4: Season's Over!

What a wonderful meltdown we were fortunate enough to witness on Sunday afternoon. Porous defense from the New Jersey Devils (of all teams), whining and crying to the referees by formerly respectable NHL citizens, boneheaded minor leaguers playing like they're boneheaded minor leaguers ... and another win by the New York Rangers.

The Blueshirts beat their Hudson River rivals 4-1 to eliminate their awful opponents from the playoffs and keep their own roll through terrible teams going.

It's always a delight to see Brodeur properly humbled - especially when the stakes are high - so this was a fulfilling victory. But there was room for improvement (as there always is) and the Rangers need to keep this streak going if they are to make the playoffs and avoid the ignominy of ended up below the Islanders.

Late Hits:

*Hepatitis Elias whining, DeBoer screaming and swearing, Adam Henrique being a complete nonfactor, David Clarkson not trying to injure anyone ... what has this Devils team come to? And how can we ensure they keep it up?

*The Martin Brodeur that is without stellar defenders and a capable system in front of him is an utter failure, and thus he is the most overrated player in NHL history. While all signs show he should call it a career before more folks see his failures, his alimony payments continue for another seven years so it's almost certain he'll be back next fall. As long as he keeps playing like he did, we should encourage him to keep kicking the can.

*When big players screen goaltenders, your team has a better chance to score. Amazing, right? Clowe did what Brian Boyle has refused to do throughout his Ranger career and stood right in front, allowing Step to redirect McD's shot past Mmmmmaaaaarrrrttttyyyy.

*On big players, nice to see Taylor Pyatt again. Two goals in his last 41 games is ridiculous but he does now have a three-game point streak.

*As I posted on Twitter, the Rangers are 6-1 without Boyle this season and have outscored opponents 32-14 during those seven games. He may win some faceoffs but he unbalances the lines while playing on the periphery and is a black hole with the puck.

*Twenty-seven minutes of ice time for Dan Girardi against a team with exactly one real offensive threat (Kovalchuk). If G can still stand by next Sunday, much less still play, I'll be surprised. He ranks 14th overall in the NHL in total ice time, having played at least two - if not three - games less than 12 of the 13 ahead of him. And, he averages less power play time (2:04) than 18 of the top 21 ice time leaders with only Jay Bouwmeester (1:42) and Ryan McDonagh (0:36) below him. BTW, McD ranks 17th overall.

*Pointed it out a long time ago but it always strikes me as awesome when the American boys stay on the blue line after the anthem until the flag exits. This time it was Step left standing by himself, which was even more impressive.

*"Season's Over! Season's Over!" After much of the afternoon was spent in long stretches of silence interspersed by goal celebrations and the ensuing Mmmmmaaaaarrrrttttyyyys, that chant thundered around the arena in the third period. Delightful.

*Asham is such a waste of a sweater. He intimidates no one, he can't handle the puck, he takes stupid penalties, he puts forth a substandard effort against his former teams ... really, what's the point? Was that 10 minutes for chopping at Ryan Carter or just being a Rhodes Scholar?

*Torts gave Kreider more ice time but it was on the fourth line, not exactly putting him in a situation where he can succeed. Guess the bench boss wants the kid to fail, and will hold up his lack of production as 'proof' that he can't play in the NHL.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Derek Stepan - one goal and one assist.
2-Brad Richards - two assists.
1-Ryan Callahan - two goals.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Richard$ - Seven points in his last three games. That's what yer paid for Braden!
2-Step - He keeps playing like this, he will have to be considered for Team USA next year.
1-Cally - The captain made Fatso look the fool. Love it. 

23-17-4: Puck Luck

You've heard the cliche, 'sometimes the puck bounces your way.' Well, on Friday night the puck definitely bounced the right way for the Rangers as they beat Buffalo 8-4.

While I am a strong believer that you make your own luck and the Rangers did have another strong effort, it must be mentioned that it was against a Hindenburg of a franchise. The Sabres, filled with the hot air from the ridiculous claims of their moneybags owner, played like a team missing their head coach and their team captain. They were completely clueless and the Blueshirts were able to take full advantage. So often we have seen the Rangers play down the level of their opponents but, as of the Florida game, their pretty consistent effort kept them ahead of their awful foes.

As we are already a game past this one, just a few Late Hits:

*Carl Hagelin is so fast, so very very fast. Bork, bork, bork.

*Glad Clowe was able to snap his seven-game goal drought. To be remotely worth the hefty price Sather paid, he absolutely has to provide secondary scoring.

*Hank started, again. McDonagh got nearly 26 minutes of ice time, Girardi nearly 25. In the second half of a back-to-back against one of the worst teams in the league. Torts just keeps grinding them down, damned the long-term consequences.

*That being said, they did a great job shutting down the ever-dangerous Thomas Vanek.

*Wish Pat Kaleta had gone off after a serious collision with Clowe's fists, but seeing him skate off injured was still quite satisfying.

*Reiterating a point from last game: can't wait until Derek Dorsett returns and Arron Asham is banished from Broadway. His signing was a mistake of Brashear proportions.

*John Scott played 11 minutes. Hahahahaha.

*Interesting how Ryan Miller's career has gone south since he let Sidney Crosby score the gold medal goal in Vancouver.

*Del Zaster. And that's all I have to say about him.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Rick Nash - one goal and one assist.
2-Ryane Clowe - one goal and one assist.
1-Brad Richards - three goals.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Cally - The captain's goal immediately after the back-to-back Buffalo tallies was terrific - steal, skate, score. Sweet.
2-Richard$ - Three lucky goals but, given how his season has gone, we'll take anything we can get from him.
1-Andrej Sekera/Christian Ehrhoff - Not sure these Buffalo blueliners could have had a worse game, and they were two of the few veterans out there among the Rangers' foes.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

22-17-4: Puttin' Down The Putty Tats

Before this season started, if someone said that the Rangers defeated the Florida Panthers 6-1 the comment would be met with a shrug and a smile. If someone said it before puck drop tonight, there would have been a far more dubious reaction.

After an alarming amount of underachievement, the Blueshirts got their game together and sent the cellar dwelling Panthers back to their den. The power play worked (early on, at least), Hank held down the fort and the offense took advantage of an awful Florida blueline to put up a six-pack. Even Brad Richard$ was able to contribute.

It was a much-needed decisive victory that earned two crucial points. Now the trick will be turning that into two more points tomorrow. Two of the three times the Rangers won the opening game of a back-to-back they lost the second. It will be the third game against Buffalo this season; they came from behind to win a shootout in the first and blew a 1-0 lead to fall 3-1 last time. If they can carry the momentum from tonight into First Niagara they have a good chance to go into Sunday's game against the Devils with some serious confidence.


Late Hits:

*What wonderful, rare sights they were to see, the Rangers holding their own blueline and carrying the puck down the ice. It was like Halley's Comet or something.

*How is it that five-foot-nothin' Mats Zuccarello is willing to crash the crease and make things happen and Clowe and Pyatt won't?

*As mentioned on Twitter, the injection of energy and ability that came with the re-signing of Zuke can not be understated. There was a dearth of skill up front and the revitalized Norwegian has played far, far beyond his stature. His second period goal, which arguably was the key to the game, came from his willingness to throw that little body around. Zuke forced a turnover with a hit and then planted himself in the slot. Clowe found him with a smart feed and, just like that, the Rangers were back in control.

*Another tweet: "Once Dorsett gets on the ice, this Gaborik trade could rival the Gomez deal." Brassard has been showing some of the ability that helped make him a top-10 draft pick and Moore has been more than I could have imagined. Add the grit and guile of Dorsett - and hopefully the benching of Asham to make room for him - this will be another outstanding steal by Sather. Even if Gabby lights it up for Columbus, there was no way he could have continued under Torts' reign of terror.

*Knew Brassard could skate but damn, what a release on his shot.

*Raved about Moore quite a bit of late and will do so again. His poise is beyond his years, his puck moving and skating is above average and he clearly can take care of himself. With your team up 3-1 in desperate need of a W is not the time to fight, but Moore took exception to Skille's hit and took care of business. It sends a message around the league that his baby face isn't about to be smacked around.

*Always nice to see Steven McDonald, although it is a bit curious they had his trophy ceremony with five games left, including two more at MSG. And congrats to Cally for capturing the extra effort honour. Even if he wasn't the most deserving - Step, G, Hank - the captain is never a bad choice.

*What does Torts really hope to achieve with his handling of Chris Kreider? Does he want to give him a sense of humility? Does he want to just screw with his head? Does he want to run him out of town? One shift in the second period, then bringing him back out in the third ... a player with cold legs isn't going to achieve all that much and is, frankly, a detriment to a team clinging to a lead.

*Heard Richard$ received the Broadway Hat, guess even his teammates were shocked he contributed. Hopefully he enjoys wearing that ratty chapeau so much he does it again tomorrow.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Mats Zuccarello - two goals.
2-Derick Brassard - two goals.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 34 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Hank - As usual, the King defends the castle himself.
2-Zuke - The pint-sized Scandinavian star had his hard work pay off again.
1-McDonald - The detective is a hero and, as usual, his stirring speech was inspirational.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

21-17-4: The Ole Let-Down

As have often been the case with the 2013 New York Rangers, they followed up a big victory with a big loss when they failed against the Flyers 4-2 on Tuesday night. Just three days after Hank's heroics gave them a stirring overtime victory over the Isles, the Blueshirts put together a piss poor performance against a piss poor team.

John Tortorella, as per usual, is killing this franchise's fortunes. Torts' utter inability to get his team to come prepared to play at puck drop, his cluelessness about chemistry, his lack of creativity and his power play 'plan' is making a middling team terrible.

The bench boss is, of course, safe - can't imagine a company that employed Isiah Thomas for so long canning a coach amid an asterisked season - but his failings are sending this team to one nerve racking finish. All the talk about the Rangers playing non-playoff teams for the remainder of their schedule is senseless as they play down to the level of their opponents. And if they keep playing like non-playoff teams, soon enough they will be one themselves.

Late Hits:

*Steve Mason became just another sieve of a goaltender made to look magnificent by the Blueshirts. The Rangers threw a deluge of shots on net, shots that the netminder was able to see, shots that weren't followed up. Mason made what? two good saves? A glove on Girardi and a point-blank stop of Zuke. The rest were routine.

*Given their sheer size, Taylor Pyatt and Ryane Clowe should be crashing the net to bang home some rebounds. But they aren't. Pyatt has one goal in his last 38 games, Clowe none since that brace in his debut. I guess Brian Boyle is rubbing off and their size is going to waste.

*Speaking of Boyle, he was unsure of his own injury after the game. How do you not know what hurts? And was there a single person - other than Torts - who missed him after he left in the first period?

*Maybe Arron Asham should get his GED. Instead of being proud of not graduating high school, Asham should get a clue and realize that stupidity is something one should smile about. The team suffered through an awful first period that saw them fall behind 2-0. The smallest player on the ice came through with a goal to cut the deficit to one. The right thing to do was not jump on the ice and start a senseless fight that you summarily lose. You would think that you wouldn't need no fancy buk lernin' 2 now thatt ...

*Continually astounding what low-lifes Flyer fans are, really the lowest form of life in the sports world. Classless, vulgar, obnoxious, ignorant slobs. No wonder they still have love for Asham.

*Brad Richard$ was abominable, possibly his worst game as a Ranger (or NHLer). While you would like to think that he can only get better from here, like the rest of the Blueshirts, he surely will find a new way to disappoint.

*No disappointments from John Moore. None at all. As I tweeted, I fully admit to underestimating him when he came over in the Gaborik trade. While I have advocated for more and more ice time for the kid over the last week, even I did not expect the display he put on at Wells Fargo. Smooth skating, solid stickhandling, confident ... even edgy - did you see him jump to Cally's defense when the captain was knocked down in front of the Flyer net? Delightful.

*Del Zastrous night for him and his partner Anton Stralman. I delighted in the shot that hit DZ's face only in that he blocked it and no one was able to skate around him and get a scoring chance. That's it; the report that it was I who yelled "Get up you pussy!" is inaccurate ... I only thought it.

*Really can't wait until Dylan McIlrath gets to town and finally makes opponents accountable for hitting Hank. What a day that will be.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Jay Rosehill - one fight.
2-Kimmo Timonen - one goal and one assist.
1-Steve Mason - 38 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Rosehill - Not only did he stunt the Ranger rush at the top of the second period by beating the hell out of Asham, he also took a stupid penalty in the first to allow his team to get two minutes closer to victory. Some less sarcastic credit to Sean Couturier for solid work on both sides of the ice.
2-Claude Giroux - The former Eisbaren won 18 faceoffs, including the offensive zone draw that went right to Kimmo for Philly's third goal.
1-Timonen - An all-around fine performance by the Finn. The 38 year old will not end up in the Hall of Fame but he will be able to skate away from the game next year having had an admirable career.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

21-16-4: Rope-A-Dope

Dan Girardi's overtime goal gave the New York Rangers a much-needed victory over the evil Islanders on Saturday night in Nassau. After watching that at the Flying Puck I ventured up to Radio City to watch some boxing, Nonito Donaire vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux. Rigo ended up winning by decision, an upset to uninformed fans of the fight game.

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.

*PHW Three Stars:
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. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

20-16-4: Taking Two From Toronto

The Rangers completed their home-and-home with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night and came through with a pair of points, prevailing 3-2 in a shootout. It was a poor performance by the Blueshirts but they got the result they desperately needed.

Toronto, a team that the Rangers were battling with for Eastern Conference position, collected three out of four points from the two games against New York. The battle between the Original Six rivals is all but over, as the Leafs are sitting in fifth place - five points clear of the logjam that is 6-7-8-9. To think, the Maple Leafs have all but sealed a playoff spot while the Rangers are jockeying with the Islanders and the Jets (and the Sens).

This asterisked season really is an aberration. But, as the Devils proved in '95, even bad teams can take the Cup if they get hot at the right time so there is hope for the Rangers yet. They'll just have to work harder - far harder than they did against Toronto - to turn that hope into results.

Late Hits:

*To think that individual skill competitions will continue to have a heavy hand in determining postseason eligibility in this team sport is stupefying. Really wish the NHL would do away with shootouts or at least make it a 3-2-1 point system.

*Three wasted Ranger power plays. Ho hum. Par for the course, as was the third expiring and Toronto scoring soonafter. The opportunities that have come and past this season are legion, and infuriating.

*Poor Brad Richard$. All that money and he can't buy a goal.

*Nice of Ryane Clowe to come through with a fight to swing the pendulum. Really, what is Arron Asham getting paid for?

*Torts' mismanagement of the Blueshirt blueline is killing this team. Dan Girardi is playing far too many minutes, John Moore far too few. Moore has shown he can skate and make plays, and yet he had just two shifts in the third period and none in overtime - a four on four OT with a ton of space for a kid who can skate and make plays. And yet Steve Eminger was out there for over 30 seconds. Senseless.

*Girardi ... an All Star last season, G is a shadow of that player and his Del Zastrous fumble of an ill-advised Asham pass led to the game-tying goal. He's making mistakes more than ever and yet Torts had him out there for a half hour.

*Neither he nor anyone else on the Rangers were able to contain Toronto's top trio - Kessel, JvR and Bozak. Their speed, hustle and chemistry just killed. Imagine that, a line that has chemistry. What a concept.

*Great shot by McDonagh to give the Blueshirts the lead. Amazing what happens when players screen the goalie and the shooter avoids putting the puck into the legs of the guy right in front of him.

*Bork! Finally, Hagelin's hard work paid off in a goal. Hopefully it will open the floodgates ...

*Really seems like a long time since Taylor Pyatt was a contributing member of this team. Maybe facing his former franchise on Saturday will get him back in the game. His big body could be a big help down the stretch and in the playoffs (if the Rangers make it).

*Speaking of big bodies, why/how in the world did Boyle get a star? He was abominable, as per usual. He had nothing to do with either of the Ranger goals, he missed passes and gift-wrapped chances, his penalty killing consisted of standing around watching the Leafs pass the puck ... Which of the writers did he pay off?

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Brian Boyle - no points.
2-Phil Kessel - two goals.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 23 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Clowe - Sure he didn't win the fight against Fraser but the Rangers were in desperate need of life and he sparked it.
2-Kessel - By far the best skater on the ice; wonder why he wasn't in the shootout. Can't wait to see him in Sochi. (USA! USA! USA!)
1-Hank - Even with the 20+ minute gap between shots, the King collected a multitude of game-saving stops. With a common goaltender, this game was over in regulation with the Leafs winning handily. Good thing we have royalty amongst us. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

19-16-4: Right Back Where We Started From

The boost of adrenaline the Rangers received from the trade deadline and subsequent 6-1 curbstomping of the Penguins has completely worn off. The Blueshirts fell back to their familiar failings on Monday night, falling to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3.

We all joked that once Torts went back to coaching the team it would regress and it has. The lines that worked so well have been broken up, new guys Brassard and Moore are seeing limited minutes, the power play was back to being predictable and the Rangers are allowing their opponents to do whatever they want, wherever they want.

No one is laughing now.

Late Hits:

*Del Zastrous. Those who see his poor performance as an aberration are wrong have the excuse that the kid tried to do too much in front of a hometown crowd. It has happened before at the ACC, and likely will happen again. But, frankly, it was par for the course. DZ chases the puck, gambles on the rush, hits for contact and not 'impact', and has little clue of proper positioning in his own end. When his gambles pay off, things are rosy. When they don't ...

*Torts juggles the forwards lines incessantly and yet he stuck with the DZ/Girardi pairing despite consistent failures. Mind boggling.

*Yet another game where Girardi and McDonagh looked exhausted. Too many minutes over the last year and a half have taken their toll; Marc Staal can't return quick enough, and it is a shame Torts stopped trusting Moore already.

*The Leafs goal to go up 3-1 - Kessel's power play goal - was painful. Not only did it come off a hokey holding call on Cally (great dive by Sloppy Seconds), but the Rangers just let New Jersey boy JvR do his best Tomas Holmstrom impression.

*Phil Kessel is Toronto's best player. Perhaps someone should cover him. Just a thought.

*Can't blame the posts in this one, both teams tasted iron several times.

*Typical Ranger performance, making a mediocre goaltender look like a god. Perhaps if they weren't so predictable Reimer wouldn't be able to square to every shot and take the puck in the logo. The goaltender was caught completely offguard when Step fired the puck past him rather than dumping it into the corner and 'grinding' the way they usually do.

*That was a beautiful shot by the True Blue trooper and Nash's singular effort on the Rangers' second goal was stellar. Maybe he felt he was back in Columbus, thinking "if I don't do it myself, no one else will."

*Brian Boyle. Enough with this oversized, understrengthed waste of a sweater already.

*Zuccarello has returned a different player than he was, one who is more willing to shoot. Combined with his sublime passing ability and decisiveness with the puck, he has clearly made the next step in his development. Once it all starts clicking - regular linemates might help - Zuke will be one helluva NHLer.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Phil Kessel - two goals and one assist.
2-Rick Nash - two goals.
1-James van Riemsdyk - one goal and one assist.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Nash - That was one highlight goal by the hot dog, more than made up for kicking in the other one. Haha.
2-JvR - A big, power forward willing to work the tough areas to get goals? Hope Ryane Clowe took notes.
1-Kessel - Marian Gaborik played like that, for a spell ... 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

19-15-4: Hank Stops The Hurricanes

The Rangers survived quite the storm on Saturday night as Henrik Lundqvist was forced to weather 49 shots in what would be a 4-1 win over Carolina by the Blueshirts. The stellar Swede showed the skills that helped him earn the Vezina Trophy last season and have put him in line for a repeat.

Why is it when the Rangers inflate the save total of opposition goaltenders, it is with low percentage shots but when Hank gets hammered, it is by a continual deluge of scoring chances? And to give up that many opportunities to a sub-par non-playoff team ... ?

Those are rhetorical questions at this point but the real query is what was the cost to the King? Thus far this year Hank suffered headaches (no one wants to call it a concussion) and suffered a sore hamstring in the home-and-home with Pittsburgh. How much more can he handle?

Even in the triple overtime game against Washington last season Hank only faced 46 shots by the time Gabby scored the winner (and stopped 45). It's clear all of the ice time has taken a toll on McDonagh and Girardi, but Hank has been there to bail them out. What will happen should he finally break down? Shudder to think ...

Late Hits:

*Accountability. Brian Boyle takes two terrible penalties and helps Carolina break Hank's no-no. And yet he played over 19 minutes (including three and a half on the power play), never missed a shift and was out on the ice to score an empty net goal as time expired. But Torts will scream at the youngsters and bench the superstars. Just doesn't make much sense.

*John Moore has gone from 14 to 10 to seven minutes of ice time over his three games for no reason that I could see. The kid can skate, move the puck and get out of trouble ... except trouble with Torts. Next time the bench boss will probably banish him to the press box and force us to watch Hamrlik again. Nooooooo!!!!!!

*Two power play goals. In one game. By the Rangers. Whaaaa? Step's strike came off the rush after Richards took advantage of McBain's mistake to find the former Badger alone in the slot. Nash's came on a nice spin-and-shoot after a fine feed from Zuke, moments after the Blueshirts gained the zone. There was no establishing themselves, wasting time and telegraphing passes - they moved in and scored.

*Sure Dan Ellis is awful, but it was still sweet to see Nash pick his pocket and thread a perfect pass back into the crease for Cally to capitalize upon.

*They should claim that it is part of the league's environmental action but the Rangers might as well paint their own blue line green because opponents are free to slide on in. Clowe has brought the advertised toughness but he can't break up rushes on his own.

*Even though he came away -1, Carl Hagelin had himself one of his better games. The kid is relentless and can skate, but he will have to start scoring soon - one goal in his last 19 and one assist in his last nine.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Jeff Skinner - one assist.
2-Rick Nash - one goal and one assist.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 48 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Step - All it took was adjusting back to American ice after his Finnish foray and he's setting himself up for quite the payday this summer.
2-Nash - As many goals as Crosby this season (15), in two less games (thanks to both of their injuries).
1-Hank - Another royal performance by Manhattan's monarch.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

18-15-4: Three Out Of Four Ain't Bad ...

It ain't bad but, of course, the Rangers probably could have taken four out of four from the home-and-home with the Penguins. Then again, let's face it, that wasn't going to happen - not with this head coach, not with this team. Still, the Blueshirts played a capable road game at Consol before falling in a skill competition.

Kind of appropriate, isn't it? The Rangers not having - or more appropriately, displaying - the skills to win?

The carefree, fun Rangers that annihilated the Pens Wednesday were replaced by a typical Tortorella troupe that mucked and grinded their way though the final buzzer and beyond. And that was good enough to earn a much-needed point against the top team from the LEast. Torts' counterpart Dan Bylsma acknowledged the absence of his top player and top two defensemen, and had his team play a tighter game. But, even so, that depleted squad still managed to get great chances seemingly at will and controlled the tempo.

That is the problem. Tortorella's personal aggression doesn't translate to his game plan - his philosophy has been to respond to the opposition rather than to impose his will upon it. Block shots, try not to take penalties, take what the other guys give you, limit forechecking to maintain optimum positioning, bequeath the blue line but hold the hash marks, minimize mistakes. That's not the way to win in the post-'04 lockout NHL. When Torts' team went out and just played on Wednesday they forechecked, they pressed, they threw caution to the wind and let Hank hold down the fort. Now the King is back behind his walls, walls that are as much a hindrance as a help. Sad.

Just a few Late Hits:

*Torts was back to himself, going heavy on his usual horses. Step skated for 24 minutes and took 28 faceoffs (he won seven). Brassard, who so impressed in his debute, played 14 minutes and took eight draws (winning six). Del Zaster 26 minutes, John Moore 10. The fourth line saw around seven.

*Should the Rangers squeak into the postseason and face Pittsburgh, the series could be quite the bloodbath with the Pens seeking Del Zaster's head. But would Torts and the Blueshirts battle - and eventually prevail - the way Philly did last year?

*Step was miserable at faceoffs for most of the match but man, did he win one at the right time. And that was one lightning-fast release by Nash ... Gabby likely would have set himself and waited too long.

*Do we give Boyle credit for continually trying or do we slam him for blowing big chances? Yeah, we slam him. Too slow, cement hands, cement head. Especially since every little kid is taught that the numbers on the back of the jersey are a stop sign, you don't aim for them when laying a body check (at least with the ref watching).

*Really wish Douglas Murray had become a Ranger.

*Hope this second honeymoon with Zuke never ends. He's so much fun to watch play.

*Engelland was 19-4-1 over his 25 previous fights, including a decision over Clowe in a wild bout last season. The rematch was a good one, with the big guys trading some big punches. It's nice that Clowe accounted himself well but that fight was for Engy. The wise defenseman knew he needed that early bout for his team, to show they weren't going to be smacked down for a second straight game. Seeing as the Rangers didn't exactly set the world on fire in the first 10, it's understandable that Clowe entertained the dance invitation.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 26 saves.
2-Jussi Jokinen - one regulation goal, one shootout goal.
1-Marc-Andre Fleury - 34 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Fleury - Not the same sieve that let six past him on Wednesday.
2-Hank - Some quality stops by the King.
1-Jokinen - New team syndrome struck for everyone else who was dealt at the deadline, so it was inevitable. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

18-15-3: No Coaching Is Good Coaching

In a day and age when teams are scouted and video is poured over relentlessly in preparation for the next opponents, Wednesday night was a nice reminder that sometimes it is just best to go out and play.

Three new players were integrated into the Rangers lineup and the team exhibited some of their best hockey of the season. There was no ridiculous worries about gap control, shot blocking and 15 passes for every shot. The Blueshirts just played. And, man, did it work out. They destroyed the NHL's favourite sons to the tune of a 6-1 curb stomping.

The Penguins on Wednesday were much like the Flyers last week - a team reeling from important injuries with a sieve for a goaltender. And the Rangers were able to take full advantage and grab two points from a division rival. Adding the new guys - and Tortorella's shocking willingness to use them - meant that just one player saw less than 10 minutes of ice time (Asham) and that all four lines were able to play their best, shift in and shift out. Amazing how things work out when that happens.

Torts has shown that he can't adapt his style to the style of the team so Sather dealt Gabby and some draft picks for an insta-fix, a buncha grinders to play the roles the coach can cope with. The new guys accounted themselves quite well, we just have to wonder how they will do once they get whipped into submission like the rest of the Ranger horses.

Late Hits:

*Ryane Clowe now has as many goals as he has extra "E"s in his name. The goals themselves were wonderful to watch but it was his willingness to hit and battle in the slot that were really delightful - very necessary qualities that were missing thusfar this season.

*Brian Boyle. Shocked he wasn't traded, figured it was his faceoff ability that saved him ... and then he spent the game on the right wing. Bizarre, but it worked out. He was still pillow-soft but his feed to Moore was outstanding.

*Moore's play throughout the night was wonderful to eyes tired of seeing the mistake factories that have been Hamrlik, Stralman and Eminger.

*Brassard looked like a miracle worker - he had a goal and two assists on the power play. The Ranger power play. He displayed smooth skating, an ease with the puck and skill at the dot ... everything we've wanted to see from Richard$.

*So my Tw-enemy Asham was pulled away from Matt Cooke by a linesman so he decided to fight Tanner Glass, using the excuse of a shot after a whistle. So it is ok to fight for a minor 'code' infraction but not when McDonagh nearly gets killed by MaxPac or when Hank is hammered? Keep in mind Asham fought Glass earlier this season to draw and was looking to win Round 2. Can't wait for Dorsett to heal and render Asham even more useless.

*Too tired to look it up but just nine shot blocks by the Blueshirts - a season low? So maybe staying on their feet and in position is something that is helpful? Just a thought.

*Two poor first period penalties by McD and DZ. Two too many.

*Kreider and Miller are thankfully back in the bus league so they can get some icetime and improve. Haveta wonder if Hagelin needs to go to Hartford too. Something has to happen, he has to get some chemistry with capable linemates or just find some confidence because one goal in his last 17 games is not good enough.

*No complaints but Malkin and Iginla were quiet. Figured Geno would at least try to injure someone, as he often does. As a good friend observed, Pittsburgh REALLY misses Kris Letang. Sure Sid's absence hurts, but Letang is the real lynchpin for Bylsma's system.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Brad Richards - one goal and two assists.
2-Derek Brassard - one goal and three assists.
1-Ryane Clowe - two goals and one assist.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Moore - No Hamrlik! Capable puck movement! A goal from a Blueshirt blueliner!
2-Brassard - Strange to see No. 16 out there again, but if Brassard keeps playing like this he may end up as loved as the last guy who wore it. (I doubt it.)
1-Clowe - Sure he won't be scoring every night but he has a big body and he isn't afraid to use it. Tremendous. Maybe Boyle will learn and emulate? Please? 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ryane Clowe Reactions

Just throwing out some quick hits on the Rangers' acquisition of San Jose's Ryane Clowe today:

*Would you trade three high draft picks for Brandon Prust if Prust didn't kill penalties, didn't block shots, was a year older and made a million dollars more?

*Clowe had 35 fights over his last four seasons, and the folks on HockeyFights only felt he lost three of them. Not too shabby.

*They gave him the decision in his lone bout against Brandon back in 2011.

*Clowe has played in 12 playoff series. He had one or no goals in eight of them.

*Clowe has two more Es in his name than he has goals this season.

*Sather wanted to bring in someone to boost Brian Boyle's goal scoring confidence.

*Clowe has over 400 NHL games on his resume but is probably best known for cheating.

*Zero Stanley Cups on that resume too.

*Clowe was selected in the sixth round of 2001, 175th overall. The Rangers picked next, selecting Marek Zidlicky. Zidlicky wanted a one-way contract, the Blueshirts wouldn't give it to him and he was eventually dealt to Nashville in the Mike Dunham deal. Still haven't replaced Sergei Zubov ...

*Brad Brown and Darren Langdon are the two most recent New York Ranger Newfies before Clowe.

*Taylor Pyatt received less than 12 minutes of ice time eight of the last 13 games. Clowe received less than 12 just three times this season - he was hurt in one game, he picked a fight in another and was ejected from the third after throwing a hissy fit in the penalty box.

*Is this Sather admitting that sugning my Twitter pal Arron Asham was a mistake?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

17-15-3: Home Grown Heroes

For all of the asinine pre-season predictions touting victory after victory and a shiny Cup in the Rangers' future, not a one said that the Blueshirts would go only as far as Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan would take them. But that is where we are right now, as their efforts have spurred most of the Ranger success to date.

Cally has six of New York's 14 special team goals and when Step scores the side is 9-1-1. The True Blue duo drove their team to a 4-2 victory over the Southeast Division-leading Atlanta Thrashers Winnipeg Jets with three goals and three assists between the two of them. As ranted in this space a few weeks back, the mercenaries are supposed to supplement the home grown talent and, on this night, Rick Nash did just that. The former BJ rode his linemates coattails for two points, a goal and an assist. Nash, so used to doing things himself, still needs to adapt to being a bit player and lining up alongside selfless players like Cally and Step should certainly help.

Let's see how long this line combo lasts, as Torts juggles more than a clown in a circus. And he's far less coordinated. Once the team faces some adversity, say on the first or second shift on Wednesday, it's a sad certainty that they'll be broken up. Sad, sad, sad.

Late Hits:

*Hard to imagine but even Hobey Gilroy would be better on defense than Roman Hamrlik. So would a nun with a ruler, a traffic cone or a sign that says 'Beware of Dog.'

*Cally's goal? Wow. Just ... wow. Did you know he had that in him? Can't say I did. He's outstanding.

*Poor penalties aside, Zuke had a terrific game. The minute Norwegian knows what to do with the puck and does it. Decisiveness is an asset.

*The penalties have to stop. Even with Powe rightfully back in the lineup, the team can't give good teams those opportunities night after night.

*Explain how getting 3:23 of ice time is beneficial to Chris Kreider's career. You can't. Torts can't, and he is the bench boss who gave it to him.

*Brian Boyle ... steaks are tougher than he is. Amazing how he gets pushy once the stripes show up; I think there are harder shoves in the mosh pit at a Nickleback show.

*Sad how JT Miller was benched when it was Boyle who blew the faceoff leading to Bogosian's goal. As usual, Torts would rather 'teach lessons' to younger players rather than show some actual accountability.

*For all his money Brad Richard$ can't even buy an empty net goal. Kinda pathetic, especially as we are the ones who gave him that money.

*Going to the net is a good thing. Someone remind Pyatt of that.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 26 saves.
2-Derek Stepan - two goals.
1-Ryan Callahan - one goal and three assists.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Girardi - Over 29 minutes of ice time, no points for Evander Kane.
2-Step - Time to stitch a letter on his sweater. Take it off of Richard$ sweater.
1-Cally - Selfless. Skilled. Tenacious. If there was only a way to clone him ...