Sunday, October 12, 2008

4-0-0: First Real Win Of The Year

lau·rel (lôrl, lawr-uhl) n.
1. A Mediterranean evergreen tree (Laurus nobilis) having aromatic, simple leaves and small blackish berries. Also called bay5, bay laurel, sweet bay.
2. A shrub or tree, such as the mountain laurel, having a similar aroma or leaf shape.
Idiom: "rest on (one's) laurels"
1. To rely on one's past achievements instead of working to maintain or advance one's status or reputation.
2. To sit on a four goal lead against a dangerous divisional opponent.

You know, there is a reason that we are sports fans. To live and die with your team, you experience a wide variety of feelings - both good and bad and you can live with that, because of the passion you feel for that franchise. I have to say, the 4-3 Rangers win over the Flyers definitely tested my fandom. After the Blueshirts played their best period in recent history, the pendulum swung the other way and I nearly had an ulcer. As a friend said to me, it was 'like watching the Montreal game from last season all over again.' This horrible New York trend of resting on their laurels and relaxing in second periods has got to end - of inly for my sanity. If Stephen Valiquette didn't play every inch of his 6'6 frame then the Rangers would have blown it entirely. So let's get going on this rollercoaster ride:

*The fetching yet not-so-bright Sarah Palin dropped the puck so it's official, the Philadelphia Flyers endorse the Republican ticket for the presidency. And, unless Gary Bettman gets a team to have Joe Biden drop the puck at another game, you can assume the league endorses them too. Politics have no place on the ice and the league fumbled the puck by allowing Palin to drop it.

*I am sure some of you out there cringed when Orr was out on the ice in the last minute but he really deserved it. Sjostrom, Betts and Orr were the best three shutdown players for the Blueshirts and they easily kept pace with the much-more-talented first line of the Flyers.

*Speaking of Bettsy, YEAH BUDDY!!! He scored, he actually scored!! People mocked me for nominating Betts for captaincy but he proved that hard work pays off. After battling the first three games and getting chances, his luck finally changed and he racked up a goal and an assist. If you don't think the Rangers practice dumping in the puck like he did on Sjostrom's goal, you would be mistaken. Perfect. And he was incredible defensively as well, but that is par for the course for him.

*Marc Staal needs to learn how to inflict pain. After Danielle Briere ran Valley in the first period, Staal just jumped on his back. Utterly unacceptable. That is an instance where you need to take the penalty, especially at this time of year. Granted, the Rangers scored on the ensuing power play to go up 4-0, but making a statement is much more important. And I don't think that Dubi's battle with Richards after the ppg did it.

*Speaking of that fight, kudos to Dubi in taking off his helmet, because it forced Richards to lose his. The Flyers captain is a pro at the cheap shot because he can hide underneath his visor and by taking off his helmet, Dubi forced Richards to reciprocate. Granted, Dubi still needs to refine his fisticuff form, but it was still fun to watch.

*The other first period tussle was between Colton Orr and Riley Cote, and that was a quick wrestling match. It is sad to see heavyweight battles determined by who can get the other off-balance first rather than the better puncher.

*Dmitri Malik Kalinin had a terrible game and yet the equally-awful Joe Micheletti kept making excuses for him. After a Malik-esque turnover by Kalinin led to a Philly goal, Micheletti glossed over the mistake and attacked the non-call on goalie interference. It certainly was a mistake by the ref, but it would have never happened if Malik Kalinin knew how to play defense. I think it is a matter that Micheletti, who was a piss-poor defenseman himself, sees some of himself in Malik Kalinin so he sides with him at every chance. What a joke.

*While I won't put the two in the same class, Wade Redden sucked nearly as bad as Malik Kalinin. Redden was beaten repeatedly by faster forwards, knocked off the puck a few times and made some really unwise passes. Six million dollars for this?

*On the other side of the puck, I used to think quite little of Paul Mara but the lumberjack is turning into the responsible defensive defenseman that I wanted Jason Smith to be on the Rangers blueline. He is playing well positionally and doing his best to stop the other teams from allowing the other team to take physical liberties in the Rangers end.

*Stephen Valiquette made 25 saves in the game for the Rangers. Starting him was probably a smart move by Tom Renney, given Valley's track record in Philly but the Rangers have to be careful: after an amazing start to last season by Henrik Lundqvist, Valley got a start (and a win) against the Toronto Maple Leafs. For several months after that, Hank wasn't the same goaltender. He still rattled off some wins, but couldn't recapture his Vezina-worthy form until mid-February.

*Kimmo Timonen played over half the game for Philly and came out of it +1. He is definitely one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL.

*Ryan Callahan had his worse game this young season as the Flyers physically challenged him. They stayed close to him and on one shift I counted him getting hit four times. Lauri Korpikoski and Patrik Rissmiller also didn't fare too well, something that will certainly complicate things for Renney going forward.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Antero Niittymaki - 13 saves.
2-Mike Richards - one goal.
1-Nik Zherdev - one goal and one assist.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Richards - I hate this weasel but he really did everything for the Flyers. He contributed offensively, getting chance after chance only to be foiled by Valley or the post all but one time. As captain he knew he had to do something and he threw down with Dubi ... one can only hope Drury will put forth a similiar display when called upon.
2-Betts - Aside from his offensive display, Bettsy was a huge part of the penalty kill that shut down the Flyers. Both he and Chris Drury deserve medals for their work during the third period 5-on-3.
1-Valiquette - The three goals against him weren't his fault as the team in front of him relented and he stood tall when he needed to.


Anonymous said...

Scotty, I definitely agree with the first paragraph or so but you started to lose me during the end. Specifically, the bit about Hank being ineffective because Vally played. Hank's play really dropped off after his father had the illness. I don't think it's right to get yourself worried about him being worse because he gets a night off because if he had to play all 82 he would drop off at some point anyway. Vally did the job and Hank got some rest that he will need as we have all these games coming up.

To add in my own point, Vally scares the shit out of me. It is by no means his fault because I don't think most goalies would have had any of those goals but he inspires no confidence at all. I was as nervous as I've been in a while watching the Rangers in the third period and I don't think I would've been so worried if Hank was back there lol. I was convinced we were going to choke that one away even before Hartnell scored because we were certainly resting on our laurels...this team's going to give me a heart attack before this year's said and done...

Anonymous said...

I hate the flyers more than any franchise in the league (buffalo is a close second) and was glad to see the rangers beat them. That first period was something to behold. I LOVE it that Biron got yanked in his home opener.

Nitty came in and played great for them and I hope it stirs up another goalie controversy for those assholes.

I must admit I was stressing for the latter two periods but in the end, the Rangers lost AND the flyer got boo'ed on their home opener. Good stuff.

Unknown said...

Valley was awesome. It was the team in front of him that sucked after the first 20 minutes last night. And this is not the first time that the Rangers have tried to go into hockey's version of a prevent defence with a lead and had some scares. That strategy won't work against good teams, and if Renney keeps it up we'll be thanking the Isles for keeping us out of the cellar very shortly.