Tuesday, December 30, 2008

23-13-3: Mixed Emotions At MSG

The Rangers defeated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers New York Islanders 5-4 tonight at Madison Square Garden in an eventful, exciting game. I really should be quite pleased.


Unfortunately there were as many negatives to come out of this match as there were positives. Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes played the games of their lives. Yay! Henrik Lundqvist and the Ranger defense ... well .... boooo, The Rangers played their rivals and won a huge game on home ice. Yay! The Rangers played down to the level of their injury riddled opponent and nearly lost. Booooo.

It was a huge game because Tom Renney called out his team prior to it and the final result shows they answered it. And many of his players did, or did just enough not to be called out again. Markus Naslund was invisible until he popped up with that goal. Michal Rozsival was terrible defensively but he scored so he leaves with a par on his card. Wade Redden? He got himself a second assist. Woo hoo!! An assist, poor defensive play and the continual degradation of Dan Girardi's game just doesn't seem worth $6.5 million. Several people turned around to me saying the Mexican't Scott Gomez had a great game but despite collecting two points, there were at least three, four other scoring opportunities he blew to go along with multiple turnovers.

At the end of the night, the Rangers played just well enough to beat the worst team in the league. Let's hope they play better next time. Some notes:

*My buddy the Gregger mentioned before the game that he thought that Valley should have started instead of Hank and he was certainly proved right. Valley, like Prucha, has played well when given an opportunity to play and needs to be given more opportunities. Hank isn't playing himself out of this rut - he is making poor decisions and is getting beaten on shots that he clearly is capable of stopping.

*On the other side of the ice, we were surprised to see Joey Mac lead the Isles out for warmups. He acquitted himself pretty well but I am admittedly thankful because I truly believe that DP's presence would have resulted in an Islander win.

*Petr Prucha put on a stellar performance for his first start in ages but do you really think that it earned him a position on the roster? The first time the Rangers play a 'tough team' you can be assured that he will be back on the bench so Renney can bring in the "physical presence" of Aaron Voros.

*On the physical note, the game did feature one helluva heavyweight bout in Colton Orr vs. Mitch Fritz. While Fritz did land some good punches with his outrageously long arms, Orr landed the big blows and bloodied the big man, sending him back to the trailer park with his tail between his legs and blood running down his face. None of the Islanders were particularly physical after that solid display of fisticuffs. (Of course, there was no reason for it other than to justify Fritz being in the NHL - he did skate for 1:40 of ice time total - but I am tired of fighting that battle... and why did Versus switch to the wide camera in the middle of the fight??? Wow are they terrible.)

*Not even Mike Comrie, who went to aid Kyle Okposo after Nigel Dawes knocked the wind out of him with a fantastic check. The Garden did roar at the mighty mites duking it out but Dawes really should have taken his helmet off. Fighting with a visor is just wrong. Then again, Comrie didn't attempt to get Dawsie's bucket off and just resorted to Street Fighter-esque uppercuts so who's fault is that?

*But back to Dawes, who definitely played his best game as a Ranger. He kept his skates moving throughout his shifts, he was physically involved, he swarmed around the Islander net and he scored. Outside of the scoring, the same could be said for Ryan Callahan and Lauri Korpikoski ... youth was served. The problem is that there just aren't enough kids on this roster and the ones we have aren't really game-breakers.

*Nik Zherdev should be considered both as he is still on the near side of 25 and he has skills most people can only dream of. After his time in Columbus we were warned about his enigmatic play and yet this team still had him penciled in for 30 goals. On this night he was horrid. Z skated into traffic and turned the puck over, wasted power play time skating around without creating anything and was a nonfactor - certainly not something you want from your first line winger.

*I would love to espouse more on the shortcomings of the overpriced players or the 0-for-5 power play but, alas, I have to get some sleep before heading to Chicago for Thursday's Winter Classic. Like with last year, I plan on reporting back so keep tuning in!!

*Oh, before I finish off with the stars, I want to reiterate that Dmitri Kalinin's salary would be better spent paying him to play in Russia. He has reached his peak and makes mistakes left and right. Corey Potter will make mistakes but he is young and has a much higher upside than Kalinin's current level.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Ryan Callahan - one assist.
2-Scott Gomez - one goal and one assist.
1-Petr Prucha - one goal.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cally - The kid was a wrecking ball, as usual. He nearly killed Trent Hunter with one helluva check and continually forced the action deep in the Islander zone.
2-Pru - He played like he had something to prove and it showed. It is amazing how wonderful motivated hockey looks ...
1-Dawsie - Was there anything Dawsie didn't do in this one? Best game of his career to date ... but can he keep it up? Hopefully!


Anonymous said...

Good post, Scotty, and I agree with a lot of your points, HUGE game for PRU and Dawesy. However I think Zherdev deserves a little credit for that sick 6-on-5 delayed PP assist to Gomer for the lay-up, one-timer goal. He patiently waited for the opportunity to pass and then rifled it through the opening with more zip on it than most of Gomer's shots.

It also kept the 'Gers from going on the PP, which more often than not leads to either no goal or an opponent goal. Feels like a two goal swing there.

Happy new year, bud, and enjoy the Winter Classic.

Anonymous said...

agree with lieber, that 6-5 is how the pp should work all the time. maybe they should just get an extra skater and ask the ref to not pu the other player in the box for 2 minutes and the PP woes will be solved!

nyrmaniac2 said...

Rozy actually had a pretty decent defensive game as well. He actually angled oncoming Islanders into the boards. Although, they weren't particulalrl hard hits, they stopped the rush and the other Rangers picked up the puck.

The kids all had one hell of a night. Cally, Dawes, and Prucha. But the single best shift I saw on the night, and probably the entire season came from Korpi in the third period. It was the only shift I've seen the entire season that a Ranger gave his all the entire shift, the most tremendous show of heart I have seen all season. He continually pressured the Isles in their zone and created a couple of turnovers.

Anyways, have a safe trip and enjoy the game.

Scotty Hockey said...

I actually have to disagree with you guys - that 6-on-5 showed a lot of what was wrong with the team- they waited and waited and waited for a perfect play and it happened to work out. If Rozy had scored instead of hitting the post, I think in the long run we would be in better shape. Now they are just still going to keep with their frustrating patience instead of just putting their heads down and crashing the net, playing hockey.

And Maniac - I gotta agree about the Korpedo's shift - that was beautiful. He battled to get into the zone, lost the puck but stuck with the play and pressed them all the way back into the corner and behind the net. The sad thing was that just two people near me recognized that and gave him a standing O ...

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