Saturday, January 17, 2009

27-15-4: Windy City Win

Putting the tape into the VCR tonight, I expected to sit back and enjoy a hockey game. Who knew it would lead to a crisis of faith? The 3-2 overtime win over Chicago had both extremes. Moments like Brandon Dubinsky's goal and the two minute five-on-three kill to end the first period had me out of my seat, beaming. On the other side of the coin, watching Rozy chasing after the ref to complain and seeing Tom Renney showing emotion for seemingly the first time ever as he bitched and moaned had me ashamed to be a fan.

And being forced to listen to that jerk Joe Micheletti call it just made things worse. Let's face it, as the replays showed, every call that the refs made was legit. That simple. Where the Blueshirts were smarter in their previous three games, they were sloppy here and deserved to be whistled for every minor in this one.

While I agree that there should be a "let them play" mentality, it doesn't happen most of the time in the post-lockout NHL during the regular season - no matter how many times you point out that 'there is a big crowd in Chicago on a Friday night.' Micheletti's job is to analyze the game, not to step on a soapbox.

That's my job.

*The idiotic new tendency among NHLers to fight after fair hits continued tonight. After Dan Girardi hit Kris Versteeg in the second period, Cam Barker immediately came over to challenge Girardi and the Ranger defenseman accommodated him. Barker got an extra penalty and the Blueshirts shockingly took advantage of it, but why? Why would Girardi throw down his gloves? To defend his fair hit? Why let some bum draft bust threaten your livelihood for no reason? I don't get it.

*Among the second period penalties was a 10 minute misconduct to Marc Staal. We never fully saw why he got it, but it was great. As Renney is too much of a softie to ever lay the stick, the kid essentially got benched after playing a period and a half of immature hockey - chasing after pucks, chasing after players, taking lazy penalties ... Staal didn't have his head in the game and got punished. While one didn't beget the other, the result was a good one and at the end of the night it looked like the lesson was learned as Staal simplified his game and played smarter.

*What. A. Goal. Lauri Korpikoski draws everyone to him as he drifts deep down the wing and swings the puck back to Brandon Dubinsky in the slot for a slam dunk to make it a 2-1 game. Wow. Our Finnish phenom made a remarkable rush and perfect pass. Someone find Khabibulin's jock, it was last seen floating away in Lake Michigan.

*Skate, pull up, pass. Skate, pull up, pass. Skate, pull up, pass. Skate, pull up, pass. I hate you Scott Gomez. And the second intermission interview where he managed both to cry about the penalties and be rude to John Giannone? Heartless, self-serving Mexican't. As I've said, that A on his chest doesn't stand for Assistant Captain.

*His overpriced compatriot, Chris Drury, lived up to his letter on this night. Aside from playing a huge part in the penalty kills, Drury came through in the overtime to tip Wade Redden's soft shot past the Bulin Wall to win the game with his second goal of the night. This is one of the few occasions where the fact that Drury has no personality paid off. Had he been the fiery type, he likely would have emulated his coach and gone nuts over the penalties. Instead he stayed grounded, kept plugging and came through.

*Redden, I guess, also deserves some credit. Not much, but some. He did throw the puck on net instead of passing it away so that's a good thing. Of course, it helps bring him up to par after he didn't cover Jon Toews on the Hawks' first goal of the night, but after so many nights when all he does is hurt the team, we have to be thankful for an evening like this.

*If I was a Chicago fan, man would I be pissed. Just one power play goal? You want to give due to the Rangers kill, but at some point, you have to wonder what is wrong. Then again, if I rooted for the Hawks I would have been giddy over the performance of some of the guys, like Dustin Byfuglien (strong like bull) and James Wisniewski (he was everywhere! 28:23??).

*It was cute having the Rangers dads hanging around and having a good time, but it is long past time that the Blueshirts honour the hockey moms. Say what you want about how the dads gave them their love for the game, the moms were likely the ones making sure they had a clean jersey and a good meal and got them to the rink on time.

*For all of those Nik Zherdev defenders out there, if Z wasn't a one-dimensional player, he would have actually played a part in this game. All of the league's greats play in all situations. Z is not, and likely never will be, one of the elite.

*And I have always been quick to defend Freddie Sjostrom but find myself lacking ammunition in this one. Did Sjo even play? Colton Orr was on the ice just more than half the amount of time that Sjostrom was and he was noticeable every shift ...

*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 32 saves.
2-Brent Seabrook - one goal.
1-Chris Drury - two goals.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Mara - 26:59 of ice time, an astounding 8:21 of it on the kill. And he is the Rangers fifth defenseman?? The lumberjack has been the Paul Bunyan of the blueline all season and tonight just showed how huge he could be.
2-Dru - The two power play goals were certainly nice but his work on the penalty kills just cannot be underestimated. Where Gomez couldn't clear the puck out time and time again, it was Dru who helped recover the puck and get it out.
1-Hank - An old hockey adage says that the goaltender is your best penalty killer and the King was. As the players in front of him lost their composure, he was calm and cool and skated off with a win. All hail.


Chris said...

Normally I agree with everything you write, but I have to disagree on the notion that every one of the Rangers penalties was deserved.

Mark Staal's 'hold' (called at the same time Rozi's trip) was WEAK. They wouldve been better served if they called it roughing b/c it was more like a love-tap to the midsection. Hardly a 'hold'

What about Rozi's phantom 4min high-sticking call. If you watch the replay, his stick never made contact with another players face... but he got 4min.

... unless of course they meant to call the 4min on Prucha for the highstick he got away with a few minutes prior.

Those are just 2 off the top of my head.

I suppose your anger towards Renney (in this case) is because you believed all the penalties were legit... but I was HAPPY to see him get fired up and call the refs out. Its about time he showed some emotion.

Anonymous said...

Agree with chris. At least two or three of the calls were pretty weak. The redden call stands out. Guess you skipped your favorite Ranger's (Gomez) interview-he also cited the friday night factor.

nyrmike21 said...

I also agree with Chris. I actually was really excited to read the blog to see what you would say about the officiating and i'm completely baffled. The referees were horrible in this game and as Maloney put it, "The league needs to have a look at this game". This just shows what the "new" NHL will do to a great sport. I'm glad Renney finally showed his emotion, usually he just stands on the bench doing nothing. The officiating nowadays is just disgusting and is inconsistent. With NHL Center Ice, I see one thing in the Rangers game get called, I flip to another game, same thing happens, not a penalty, doesn't make sense.

Graying Mantis said...

I don't want to jump on the bandwagon, but I will. I was glad to see Renney's emotion. I thought he stood up for the players.

The players, especially Drury in the postgame interview as well, kept an even keel under dire circumstances. Regardless of how you feel about the legitimacy of the penalties -- let's face it, we have to give kudos to a great PK unit. Even Kalinin was in position most of the time. They are starting to get it about playing defense.

And they did score 2x again on the PP. 7 out of 8 points on the road trip so far? I'd have bought in for 6.

Scotty Hockey said...

I agree, officiating is inconsistent from game to game. But the second they saw that the refs were calling it tight, they had to be disciplined and they weren't. Ryan Callahan can't swing his stick around, both of his calls were quite justified and easily avoidable.

Chris - The Staal hold was weak but a penalty and the replay that MSG showed of Rozy's double minor wasn't clear - they just re-aired it right now and you couldn't see it because it came in late and they had to wipe out because play restarted quickly. He had to have clipped Dustin and drawn blood, that is the only way it could have been a double.

Anon - How was the Redden call weak? He grabbed the Hawk and dumped him to the ice as the two chased after the puck. You can't do that.

NYRMike - Renney won't get upset when his players won't play for him, just when he feels he is getting slighted, ok. And I'm sorry to disappoint, I won't bitch about the officiating when it is even for both teams and it was on this night.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but the only person who got grabbed and thrown to the ice like a rag doll was Girardi.

W.R. Little said...

As a 'hawks fan, I was definitely pissed to see our powerplay puttering. Five 5on3's? One goal? Fuck right off. Bad night. I have a feeling I'll be pointing to this loss a few times.