Thursday, December 18, 2008

22-11-2: Check And Mate

The Los Angeles Kings are everything you want in a young team. They are hard working and unrelenting and they took advantage of a tired New York squad playing for the second night in a row to attack, attack, attack. Luckily for the Rangers, their top young goaltender didn't play and the warm body that did fill the crease was terrible, allowing the Blueshirts to escape from L.A. with a 3-2 overtime win.

Actually, what let the Rangers finish the SoCal sweep was a stellar performance by Stephen Valiquette. Valley played every inch of his 6'6 frame and stood tall in the net despite the usual defensive deficiencies in front of him. He showed no signs of the mental lapse that hit him in Toronto and he stopped 39 shots.

*The Kings wore their new third jerseys and they are beautiful. While the black trend has been overdone in the new NHL, the Kings made it famous first and these jerseys give a nod to their old sweaters with a simple black, silver and white design. I half expected to see Gretz and Lucky Luc jump over the boards; great work by L.A.

*If Santa Claus wants to be kind, he will give Ranger fans the gift of a new colour announcer on MSG. Man oh man is Joe Micheletti annoying!! Someone took the time to explain just why he was so bad over on the HFBoards and the fact that there are people actually standing up for him disgusts me. He is atrocious and his mistaken analysis does a disservice to viewers. Dave Maloney has proven that he is capable; it is long past time to make the switch.

*Hey Joe, when Ryan Callahan was hauled down midway through the second period it wasn't close to a penalty shot, it was the definition of a penalty shot - Cally had a clear advantage; it's your job to point that out. Then on the ensuing power play, the absolute confusion as to why the next play was deserving of a penalty shot was infuriating. And that was BEFORE Micheletti admitted to not paying attention and missing the play entirely!!! Later, when MSG showed replays after the next break, Micheletti claimed he just had thought it was a innocent looking play. How did he think it was an innocent looking play when he didn't see it in the first place?

*As for the penalty shot that was awarded, it was not a "great, great goal" by Rozsival as Micheletti said. It was a whole lotta flash and a backhand that barely cleared LaBarbara's goal pad. Let's face it, any capable goaltender would have poked the puck off of Rozy's stick as the Czech was skating in slow motion. Now his goal in overtime, now that was an impressive shot. It was hard, it was through traffic, it was pinpoint perfect. And, if anything, it justified the Garden's pleas for him to just put his head down and shoot!!!

*Oh, Dmitri, you truly are horrible. Mr. Malik Kalinin took a bad penalty in the first period and the Kings took advantage by opening the game's scoring. Then he stood impotently as Dustin Brown tied the game at two. Kalinin turned the puck over time and time again and played his usual soft brand of defense. If the Rangers aren't willing to waive Redden and send him to Russia, why not Kalinin? At least Dmitri speaks the language there and can rejoin his old team. He proved that he still can pass the puck to them with a few nice feeds during the Victoria Cup ... And banishing him to Metallurg would clear up $2.1 million of cap space, as opposed to the $1.6m of Petr Prucha.

*Although I can't fully blame Kalinin for Brown's goal as he was standing right next to Rozy ... but the bigger issue is that if there was no instigator rule, Brown wouldn't have been on the ice. He deserved to get his ass kicked for running around hitting people and yet the instigator rule (and Renney's innate pacifism) let him get away with it. For shame.

*Perhaps it was because they were playing other skilled youngsters, but Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi both played better than they have in weeks. They were more involved, they were more physical and they were more fun to watch. I wasn't as impressed with Nigel Dawes as the Ranger broadcasting crew was, but he did play inspired hockey.

*On the other side of the coin, Wade Redden and Aaron Voros didn't seem capable of keeping pace. Redden was caught flat footed on several occasions and it boggles my mind that Voros got more ice time than Colton Orr, who can skate harder and faster while providing more physicality. And where was the Mexican't??? Blair Betts was a bigger offensive threat than Scott Gomez ...

*Stat of the night: Brandon Dubinsky was awarded nine hits, while Brown had seven. Was the off-ice official actually watching the game? And on that note:

*PHW Three Stars
3-Kyle Calder - one assist.
2-Michal Rozsival - two goals.
1-Patrick O'Sullivan - one goal.
(What the hell were they smoking?? Even if they made their picks before the end of the game, and even if you are a homer, how do you pick these three guys in this order to boot?)

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Rozy - He made these stars and it is not in a sarcastic manner, who'da thunk it.
2-Valley - A phenomenal display of Benoit Allair's hybrid style of goaltending. And he is the backup goaltender. The backup!
1-Marc Staal - Staalsie was the only Ranger to battle back against Brown, he pressed the action throughout the game and was the catalyst for the game-winner.


Anonymous said...

Scotty, I'm totally with you in the general disdain for Poze-n-fall, but any discussion of his moves on the penalty shot has to look at both angles. Yes, a better goalie would've poked that away three feet out but there's also something to be said for inducing a mediocre goalie to collapse into the net like that. If he's going to give you that much leeway, you might as well take the puck right up to the doorstep. Don't get me wrong, I'd never miss him if he were gone but I was stunned he even got it on net, let alone scored!

Brother P said...

Scotty, If you are going to kill Joe for his talk about the Cally penalty shot then you need to kill Sam too. I'm not sure what game you watched last night. Joe mentioned Cally could of been awarded a penalty shot and then said so to Sam who disagreed with it. I'm certainly not a Joe supported and I miss JD but be fair.

Graying Mantis said...

I watched the game last night. I thought the energy of the team was lacking until they killed a power play in the 2nd and Callahan sparked them with his "rush" head-first literally into the net.

Gomez and Kalinin were the worst Rangers on the ice. Overall, I thought the defense was better than recent games but did not match up with the Anaheim game.

How great is to have Vally as a backup? He was tremendous in the 1st period last night.

I think the combination of playing a 2nd game after a physical game the night before and jet lag caught up to the team. Still, they hung around - they were outshot 20-4 and it was tied at 1.

So, they squeezed out a tough win under adverse circumstances and I am happy with the effort. 2 wins in a row in California w/o resorting to a shootout is better than recent results.

BTW in the 2 games, the Blueshirts had a streak of 5 consecutive unassisted goals, and 2 PP goals -- one of which came via an awarded goal and the other via a penalty shot. You cannot make this stuff up.

Scotty Hockey said...

Joe - Fair enough, I guess some credit is deserved. Just a little tho ...

Brother - It is Sam's job to call the action and it is Joe's to analyze it. And Sam plays Devil's advocate to most of what Joe says since Micheletti is wrong so damn often. How many times does Joe apologize for miscalls in every broadcast???

Mantis - I agree on all points and what a great observation on the goals ... but any way they go in, right?

high note said...

Joe makes me really appreciate JD's insights.
The team played poorly. That they won is the result of their opponents lack of quality in goal, not their play.
It is good to see Stahl play a more physical game. They need more of that on defense.
Callahan had more energy than almost every other Ranger. Can he keep it up and stay healthy?
I am tired of hearing about Dawes "geat hands". He has to start putting the puck in the net.
Please unload Kalinin and Redden. They are slow, make huge mistakes and allow opponents to set up right in front of their own net.