Sunday, January 18, 2009

27-16-4: Puttering Out In Pittsburgh

The Rangers came into Pittsburgh today on a nice roll to play against a divisional foe who has been reeling of late and all-too-predictable fell flat on their faces. New York allowed themselves to be kept out on the perimeter and couldn't break the ice as they got shut out 3-0 by the Pens.

Perhaps there was too much emotion invested in the penalty-fest on Friday, perhaps afternoon starts don't agree with the players and their precious routines, perhaps this team just doesn't have the leadership to keep the team motivated game-in-and-game-out. It doesn't matter. The loss is in the books and the Blueshirts sullied what had been a stellar road trip with a vanilla loss to a injury-riddled team.

*Henrik Lundqvist should feel bad after this one. Allowing a light shot by an AHL nobody in Chris Menard to beat him over the shoulder is unacceptable, no matter how perfect the feed from former Ranger Petr Sykora. The play was telegraphed and Hank went down too soon. Then he didn't learn from his mistake and dropped to his knees again when Tyler Kennedy skated in alone and snapped off a shot to make it a 2-0 game.

*But perhaps Hank's shortcomings aren't entirely his fault. Thus far this season he has shown an inability to get rolling for long periods of time and after three great starts, why should he start an afternoon away game against a lesser opponent? This would have been a perfect opportunity to get the capable Stephen Valiquette a start and allow Hank some rest before starting against the tough Ducks at home on Tuesday.

*How is this for curious decisions: the NBC production staff decided to put the talent on camera to talk about the state of the Rangers instead of showing a replay of the first penalty of the game, a legit two minute hook by Chris Drury. After the controversy around the officiating on Friday - which they had already talked about - the network should have felt obligated to show the call instead of giving Eddie O cameratime.

*Speaking of replays, they showed two of the Menard goal and both were cut so tightly that you couldn't actually see what happened. You would have thought that NBC would had shaken off the rust with the Winter Classic ...

*I guess kudos are in store for the Rangers not to retaliate to the big hit on Rozsival in the first period, as the goonery surrounding checking lately has reached preposterous levels. But at the same time, why didn't someone take a run at Whitney or Crosby the next shift? Credit to Colton Orr for chasing down Crosby the next period and goading him into a penalty. It is not pretty, it doesn't mesh with the Code, but the league has taken the code out of the players' hands so who says they have to abide by it? That isn't to say that they should run around and cheap shot (or run the goaltender like Matt Cooke did), but targeting the top players and get them off of their games is good hockey. Esa Tikkanen made a career out of it.

*When big, slow, dumb Eric Godard is blocking your shots, there is something wrong. Wade Redden is a disgrace.

*The Crosby dive to get a penalty shot was classic Cindy - undress a defenseman (Redden, of course), then fall down like you are shot when a stick touches you from behind. Just how does his feet fall out from under him when there is a hook to his midsection?

*They don't make them all that swift in Pittsburgh, huh? Late in the second period they showed Steeler fans in the crowd posing for the cameras holding up Terrible Towels and one of them was upside down. SMRT.

*I like Pierre McGuire. He is interesting, intelligent and well spoken - even if I disagree with some of his opinions. His observation late in the first that the Rangers were giving the Pens too much space was spot-on. Getting solid analysis is a refreshing change from the buffoonery we are usually force fed by Joe Micheletti.

*At the same time, when Doc made the joke that "you feel shame when you sit in the penalty box" Eddie O replied "Thank you Mr. Dunlop." Major, major negative points for for that. The original line in Slap Shot was by Denis Lemieux!! No wonder Olczyk got fired from coaching, HE DOESN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HOCKEY. That was exemplified later in the period when Eddie called the Mexican't Gomez one of the Rangers "top players."

*Gomez really is selfish fool. He was on the ice to kill a penalty in the third period and he started challenging Philippe Boucher to a fight. In the Pens zone, while the puck is headed back into the Ranger end. Tell me why he has that letter on his jersey again?

*Why don't the Rangers forecheck? Paul Mara and Dmitri Kalinin looked terrible allowing Petr Sykora to slip in and score the Pens third goal, but if there was a body on Ryan Whitney, then the defenseman wouldn't have had the time and space to spot the perfect pass up-ice ... just like McGuire said earlier, but didn't point out at the time of the goal.

*And another question for you: when you have a 4-on-3 power play with Crosby and Malkin in the penalty box, why wouldn't the Rangers have three forwards and a defenseman on the ice? Putting both Rozy and Redden out there is a piss-poor move by Renney, especially when you are being blown out 3-0. Redden has one power play point in his last 23 games, just what is he going to do out there?

*PHW Three Stars
3-Chris Minard - one goal.
2-Petr Sykora - one goal and one assist.
1-Marc-Andre Fleury - 33 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Tyler Kennedy - I have always liked this kid because he hustles and he did in this game. When he is on, like in this game, he is disruptive with his energy and relentlessness. And his release on the goal was purty.
2-Jordan Staal - Was there a shift when the Pens were deep in the Ranger zone when Staal wasn't on the ice? He was all over the place, on the power play, on the penalty kill ... for the first time in a while, he won the battle of the Staals.
1-Sykora - I never understood why the Rangers got rid of him. Sykora is a solid sniper who is a capable puck handler and is responsible defensively - exactly what the Rangers could use (among other things).


Duniyadnd said...

Unbelievably torture. That's what the game turned out to be, great way to show The Rangers to the nation on NBC.

You'd think after the last game, the team would have fire lit up their ass going after everything...

Oh well...

Anonymous said...

Beyond the fact that the Rangers played/coached piss poor today, is it just me or did it seem like the feed for the game might as well be done on the Pens home network. I would rather the NHL not be shown nationally then to hear the homering that the Pens are given on NBC. I am sick, gastrointestinal bleeding sick of hearing that broadcasting team go on and on about them. If you couldnt see the game but hear it you would have hardly known the Rangers were playing, much less any other hockey team period. This could as well have been a broadcast of a Penguins practice (The Rangers play certaintly didn't help change that). Eddie Olczyk makes me bang my head against a wall whenever I have to hear him speak, just not as hard as hearing Micheletti speak diarrhea out of his mouth. Crosby isnt the best player in hockey, he should not be getting those "Gretzky/Jordan" calls because he does nothing to earn them. He doesnt deserve the C on his sweater. I would love to see a true Captain in today's NHL like Iginla knock his teeth in and rip the C off Cindy's sweater while he skates off to the box. Sorry for venting but today's game irked me in so many ways today. And as usual you were spot on about the Rangers lack of play today.

Anonymous said...

YOu must REEEALLLLY be sick of Joe if you actually think Mcquire is all those things. The guy is the biggest blowhard in hockey and has the biggest cases of Napolean syndrome I have ever seen.

He absolutely RUIN's the beauty that is NBC hockey in HD.

Eddie O is not far behind him mind you.

Anonymous said...

ok, seriously, this Mexican't stuff is just annoying. The guy isn't nearly as bad as you make him out to be. If SATHER didn't sign him to a stupidly large contract, you wouldn't be all over him, every shift, every game. The fact that he's flippant in interviews doesn't say a thing about how the guy is in the locker room, how good of a leader he is, or anything. We're fans. If he keeps things light in a heavy locker room, more power too him. Same goes for Drury. Just because a guy is not freaking out every two seconds doesn't mean he doesn't care. Hell, same goes to Renney (when someone who doesn't blow up blows up, your guys listen). I've been a fan of this team for many years, and it's nice to have some level heads for once. We have kids for emotion, and men of reason. Sorry for the rant, but this has been eating away at me.

Still, good work man, read the blog a lot, and dig your writing, even if I don't jive with some of it.

Pete said...

highlight of the game: when Milbury literally hit Maguire at the end of the "ban on fighting" discussion. I think Pierre is a good analyst, but some of the things he believes and says are just outlandish.

The Crosby penalty shot was ridiculous. There was no hook, it was a slap on his shoulder at the most, and , I'm still trying to figure out why it was called for a penalty shot at all. The dork skated into the zone with two rangers already defending, and pushed past a third, who took the infraction. To me, it was neither a breakaway nor a clear scoring chance. He was barely at the middle of the circles when he dove. I call shenanigans.

So, what, is NBC just picking up regular season games where the Penguins are playing? This pandering to Sidney Crosby has got to stop. Alexander Ovechkin is the real hockey archetype that the fans want to see. If he was playing for just about anyone else but Washington (NJ and the Islanders excluded, of course), I would seriously consider getting a AO jersey. He's just sick. Also, Datsyuk has been playing crazy hockey these past few weeks. There are so many talented players in this league, I can't tell what the big deal is about this one kid alone.

Finally, I completely disagree about the Menard goal. I don't blame Hank for missing that one at all. He was watching the puck behind the net, and went down because he couldn't know who that quick pass was going to...usually that turns into a low garbage goal at pad height. The other 2, completely his fault. He had both time to react and also time to position himself better. That said, I hope he has an awesome showing at the All Star Game. And I want him to get that goddamned Vezina. He deserved it last year over Marty "the adulterer" Brodeur, and they gave it to that egomaniac instead. It's worse then watching the Oscars.

Chris said...

Im back on the Scotty Hockey agreement train after that blog entry. Spot on in all counts.

I was infuriated with Scott Gomez antics w/ Philip Boucher as well... what the f-ck was he thinking?

I generally like Pierre McGuire, for the same reasons as you said... but I was a little annoyed at him calling out the Rangers and (Colton Orr specifically) when he 'went after' Cindy in the 2nd.

He mentioned numerous times in that sequence how he commended the Pens for 'sticking up for their players' ... but isnt that just what Orr was doing? Yet Orr gets criticized? Gimme a break, Pierre.

I know he was between the benches, so maybe he didnt see it... but apparently he missed the slash to the wrist of blair betts which is what caused Orr to confront Cindy.

Now I may also be wrong on who slashed Betts or what exactly happened... and I hoped to get a second look at it. But due to the fact that it never got replayed again. Only the aftermath... thanks to the stellar replay/camera work.