Wednesday, December 24, 2008

22-12-3: Tom Renney Fails Rangers Again

Thanks to a sub-par effort by Henrik Lundqvist and the "coaching" of Tom Renney, the Rangers blew a 4-0 lead to lose in overtime 5-4 to the Washington Capitals tonight.

Well, at least we got a point, right?

That point is of little solace to most Ranger fans as they watched an utterly commanding first period performance deteriorate into a debacle of near Montreal proportions. As I texted a friend after the first period, "no lead is safe" and it proved prophetic as Renney couldn't motivate the troops to keep playing three periods. Instead, they started counting the presents beneath the tree and the ever-hungry Alexander Ovechkin feasted on a nice turkey dinner.

When players start resting on their laurels it is up to the leadership to keep the fires burning and Renney is too much of a player's coach to stoke the coals. And the so-called leaders that are wearing uniforms on this team aren't fiery in the least. You simply can't have a passive coach and a passive captain for just this reason. So when Ovechkin kicked at Tiny Tim's crutch (Lundqvist) with a fluke goal, the boy didn't fight to stand, he just fell and fell hard.

But let's start with the good:

*The first period was probably the second best period that the Rangers played this season. The best being the third period in San Jose.

*Ryan Callahan and Nigel Dawes were offensive threats all night long and Paul Mara played a rather good game on the blueline.

Ok, that's it so let's get to the rest:

*As I mentioned above, the fluke goal seemed to knock Lundqvist off and even with the poor effort in front of him, he should have had at least two, if not three of the goals against him. Watching shots sail by his glove made me long for the days when John Vanbiesbrouck was a Ranger. The Beezer had one quick catching hand.

*The Capitals had their number one goaltender, Brent Johnson, ill so he could barely finish out the first period after relieving the awful Jose Theodore. Washington also was without their number one and number two defensemen in Mike Green and Tom Poti (boooooooooooo). And they were without their top goon in Donald Brashear. And the Rangers were missing ... no one. And the Caps won.

*An interesting observation made by a buddy who works for the Garden - with captain Chris Clark out with injury, no one on the Caps was wearing a C. And yet they still seemed poised and motivated. Perhaps they can share their secret with the Rangers? I don't think so either.

*Wherefor art tho Nik Zherdev? With a young defense and a terrible goaltender across from him, Z should have been able to eat them alive. But instead he was barely there, looking just as enigmatic as the Columbus folks warned us he would be. He got an assist on Nazzy's game-opening goal (which was a wonderful set play) but then he vanished ...

*My seat at the Garden is next to a Ranger-hating Flyer fan who just comes to the games because he loves hockey and lives in New York. He made the remark that Scott Gomez was a helluva Devil. And I would have to agree. Unfortunately he is a terrible Ranger. The Mexican't was worthless in this one, collecting a second assist while skating all sorts of circles to nowhere. He doesn't backcheck, his passes are off the mark when he isn't just softly dumping the puck away before he can get hit and he rarely shoots. For seven million dollars a year.

*For six and a half we have Wade Redden too. Another colossal waste of cash, Redden doesn't even look like he is trying to contribute. A fantastic example was during the first period this evening. The Rangers were trapped in their zone and Dan Girardi blocked a shot. He was clearly hurting but with the puck deep, he maintained his position in the slot covering his man. When his guy went to the boards to get the puck, he followed. The puck went back around the boards and Girardi went back to the slot with his man. The puck went behind the net and Girardi hit his man. The puck came out high and a Cap took a shot that Hank turned away. Girardi dove into the corner and lofted it out of the zone. But it was Redden who raced to the bench first. For shame.

*The other overpaid defenseman, Michal Rozsival, brought his confidence back with him from the West Coast and played his strongest period in ages to open the game. Not only did he score, but he made a big defensive play as well and played the body on another two occasions. But those laurels got comfortable and he regressed back to his passive mode of defense and that helped the Caps victimize the Rangers on several goals.

*Marc Staal did a really solid job keeping the lightning that is Ovechkin in a bottle for most of their corresponding shifts. But, even with last change, Renney continued to not match up lines and allowed Ovechkin to run free and power Washington back into the game.

*How does Colton Orr get seven minutes of ice time while Aaron Voros gets nearly 11? Voros now has one point (an assist) in his last 11 games. Orr has one point (a goal) in his last 11 games. Orr is responsible defensively, hits people and can fight. Voros ... well, he is good at stopping punches with his face.

*The Ranger power play went 0-3, but luckily didn't give up a shorthanded goal. How sad is it that not allowing a goal is a solid consolation for a punchless attack? Ugh.

*I mentioned last time that Blair Betts simply cannot take penalties because he is just too valuable and tonight he took a penalty - a kneeing call in the third period. What happened? Viktor Kozlov scored on the power play to make it a 4-3 game.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Ryan Callahan - two goals.
2-Shaone Morrisonn - game-winning goal.
1-Alexander Ovechkin - two goals and one assist.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Nick Backstrom - Riding shotgun to Ovie has its privileges. Three assists and solid work at both ends of the ice.
2-Cally - The New Ball of Hate was the only Ranger to play wire to wire. If he grows a little bit of a mean streak, watch out.
1-AO - The only reason he isn't a megastar is because it is harder to pronounce Ovechkin than it is to pronounce Crosby. Ovie is by far the better player and he plays hockey the way it is meant to be played - with the utmost in effort and enjoyment. It is a true pleasure to watch him play.


Pete said...

I dub last night the "Massacre on 34th Street"

Ryan Callahan is the next Pat Verbeek? I like it.

Yeah, I think you're right, I think something spooked Hank. I'll tell you what though; last night should have been a good chance at his having his first shutout; the opposing goalie had been victimized, the team should have been demoralized, and the Rangers should have been energized. Instead, the softest defense in the world allowed them to score one against. If I was Lundqvist, at this point in the season, I would throw my hands up and scream abuse. He was putting on a clinic in the first period and much of the second, and the team, once again, showed signs of resting on his efforts alone. There is no I in "team" but if everyone else is looking "at me" to be the lynch pin, I think I would crumble under the pressure.

Brodeur was often the last line of defense for the devils, and his wicked skills and flash would make him look super-clutch, but, it is easy to confidently make save and be called upon when you have the leagues best trap in front of you, and when you can reasonably count on your D to not give up the puck in their own zone to the best scorer in the league. Hank doesn't have that luxury. Instead, he has to be looking over his shoulder constantly for the danglers, while being mindful of the snipers, and paying for there not to be deflections off the crowd that is inevitably in front of him in the crease.

Of course, if Hank ever said one word of what I just printed, I'd tell im to man the fuck up and play, because that's what he's paid to do. But, being as though it's Christmas, even though last night became one of the poorer efforts that I've seen from the King, I'm willing to give him a lot of credit for keeping the game as close as it was. That one could have been easily blown out in the second period. Everything collapsed in the third.

Robin said...

its MIKE Green, not Matt Green.

Groovemaniac said...

Its Mike Green not Matt. The play by play here in DC kept bringing up the fact that other than one game missed by Redden, you guys haven't had any games lost to injury and haven't used anyone in the minors.... perhaps changing it up a bit and letting some of the kiddies play in the adult pool could help stoke a fire.... other than that.... you guys all sound like you've got the worst team in the league... you're second in the east. You must be doing something right no?

Scotty Hockey said...

Pete - you are absolutely right, Maaaaarrrrrttttyyyy never had such a poor defense in front of him, ever.

Thanks for the correction DC folks, I will make the fix.

And Groove - I agree, some kids would be nice but without injuries, they will never put them in - too much money involved. And we are near the top of the table but we have played a lot more games, against poor opponents. We barely eek out shootout wins that make that record look a helluva lot better than the team is ...

Anonymous said...

Pete, why type anything if you're just going to go and contradict it all with "I'd tell im to make the fuck up and play?" Really, could you have wasted anymore space in negating yourself?

Scotty Hockey said...

By the way Groove - Larry Brooks agrees ...

RoShaCla said...

That was a terrible effort from the Rangers last night. Everyone else in Devils land (and all of hockey actually) seemed to think Gomez leaving the Devils was a big deal. I certainly didn't care and this is the exact reason why: he won't motivate himself. Big players just seem to become more passive in NY and Gomez already had to be yelled at every other day to produce. I have no idea why either of those things are true, but they seem to be.

Anyway, it was a good looking first from the Rangers and they are still dangerous. Things will hit bottom soon and then they will bounce back up.

Oh, and I can't help but take exception with what you said about the defense in front of Brodeur. The first 10 years of his career? Yes, absolutely true. Lately? Paul Martin and Bryce Salvador are our top pairing. That would be a 3rd pairing on San Jose or Detroit. Nevermind that he won the Vezina while Mike Mottau was playing 25 minutes a game with a one-eyed Colin White...

I'm going to stop now as I don't want to incite a NY/NJ riot. Lundqvist is a fantastic netminder and so is Brodeur and they both play behind paper-thin defenses. Now, J-S Giguere? I'm not impressed.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Capitals were also missing Alex Semin, Sergei Fedorov, Their #4 D-man in Jeff Schultz....the list goes on.