Wednesday, February 4, 2009

29-18-5: Special Night Ruined By Hockey Game

It looked like there were a thousand or so people who filed out of the Garden after the Adam Graves number retirement. They left the building on a high note having witnessed a heartwarming dedication to one of the best human beings to pull on a hockey jersey.

I was not one of those people.

I wish I was.

The Rangers put together a pathetic effort against the second worse team in the NHL and, if not for Ilya Kovalchuk's idiocy, they would have lost. As my friend Pat mentioned again and again, 'hey, at least we got a point.' Getting a point helps the team tread water before Philly catches up in games played and passes the Blueshirts in the standings. Getting a point will not bring forth change. Getting a point will not make a statement - hey, this team is deeply flawed, DO SOMETHING. But it is all too likely that nothing will be done and we will be forced to sit back and watch a team that spends millions upon millions of dollars and can't score a goal against the squad that has allowed the second-most in the NHL. Terrific. Before I break down in tears, some observations on the evening:

*Adam Graves finally breaking down as his banner went up was the most moving moment of all of the '94 Ranger number retirements. I've been lucky to go to all four and it was by far the best moment of all of them. The toughest Ranger, the guy who put himself through hell to score most of his 367 NHL goals, couldn't bare to watch as the building roared around him and his name and number rose into immortality. Incredible.

*On the other hand, what the hell was that garbage with the cast of the Sopranos? A bunch of loser actors on a show that is already off the air got to march across the ice like they were anyone of importance? The flow of the ceremony came to a screeching halt as those clowns walked out to awkwardly give Graves some gifts. And if that Van Zant guy could make it up from the Super Bowl in Tampa to take part in this, why couldn't Bruce Springsteen show up to hand Graves his guitar personally??

*How sad is it that, in all likelihood, there isn't a single Ranger on the current roster who will get their number retired?

*Steven McDonald showed up to honour Graves and got his usual warm reception from the Garden crowd. But the best part, to me, was after the game started. During a break, they showed McDonald iceside and not only did the fans cheer again, but Kari Lehtonen also banged his stick on the ice and waved. That is class.

*Lehtonen had a pretty good game but he had it pretty easy. On a night where the focus was on a player who battled for every inch of ice and crashed the crease, the Rangers allowed the awful Atlanta defense to keep them out of good scoring areas and away from rebounds. Most of the best Ranger shots just missed the far post wide and ended up out of the zone.

*Nik Zherdev actually skated hard but it came to no avail. He seems to have completely lost his scoring touch. Aside from his multitude of aborted rushes and off-the-mark passes, it was astonishing how a player with his arsenal of moves could just say screw it and crank a 60 mile an hour shot right at the goaltender during the shootout. What a cop out.

*The "size" reasoning that Tom Renney uses to justify putting Aaron Voros in the lineup is not just wearing thin, it has worn out and the roadburn is killing us. How a team that can't score is keeping a scorer like Petr Prucha on the shelf for this oversized idiot is inexcusable. Voros did nothing all night outside of taking a bad penalty. For all of his size, he gets pushed around and gets knocked out of scoring positions. Not like he could score once in them, what with those cement hands.

*They say that Artem Anisimov has good hands, but we sure as hell didn't see them. My buddy the Sarge pointed it out early that Anisimov was a stiff and I would have to agree. Perhaps it was nerves but the kid never seemed comfortable and the only noticeable thing he did was get crushed on the boards.

*As for the other addition to the Ranger roster, Erik Reitz, I guess he had a decent debut. He didn't play terribly and was not noticed for most of the night (a good thing for a defenseman). The one time he did get attention, Reitz had put himself out of position to lay down a big hit and got into a losing fight against Nathan Oystrick. There is room for improvement.

*Rozy ... seriously, WTF? Even Wade Redden made some nice defensive plays. What the hell happened to the Czech? Did his game go to Siberia with Jagr?

*Plenty of people complained when the fourth line was out on the ice but, as always, I have to defend them. Blair Betts and Freddie Sjostrom consistently used their speed to put the Thrashers on their heels and Colton Orr was the only Ranger forward to use his body. Granted, the likelihood of them scoring is slim, but at this point you can say the same thing for the money pits that are Chris Drury and Mexican't Scott Gomez.

*I would have included Markus Naslund in there but he did score the equalizer. Of course, the Atlanta defense just decided to step aside and watch the last play of regulation but a goal is a goal.

*I seem to have used "but" a lot in this and I think it is because for every good thing with this team, there is something equally bad or worse that goes with it. There are few things that stand alone in the black.

*One of them is the bottom line for the Rangers. They had to make a ton of money as the merchandise flew off the shelves. When I finally went to try to get a program, shirt and hat during the second intermission, all three were sold out. Another late shopper phrased it best - "Recession? What recession?"

*As Graves mentioned, John Davidson was in the building. I saw him downstairs after the game and he was graciously posing for pictures with Ranger fans. He laughed as someone begged him to trade us Barret Jackman, and he gave me a 'oooo' look and a smile when I sarcastically said thanks for trading us Christian Backman.

*Now have to admit that it was fantastic for the fans to do a "Potvin Sucks" chant during the ceremony - it was perfect timing and even Gravey had to laugh. But to do it 10 more times during the game against Atlanta was just idiotic.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 21 saves.
2-Slava Kozlov - shootout goal.
1-Kari Lehtonen - 39 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Matt Schneider - Probably the best of the blueliners from Blueland.
2-Lehtonen - Solid effort and a showing of class. Nice work.
1-Adam Graves - No explanation needed.


Anonymous said...

Totally agree. How the Rangers could spoil such a great night by losing to a train wreck like Atlanta is beyond the pale. This is one of the few instances in sports I've seen where a team's chemistry actually decrease as the year proceeds. This team has no character and exciting or interesting players. Even power plays are tedious. Assuming that someone would actually take one of these big contracts, I'd have no objection to them trading almost anyone at this point except for maybe Henri. (Of course, they'll trade Staal and Callahan who will go on to have long NHL careers and kill us for years to come. See also, Marc Savard)

Duniyadnd said...

You forgot another point which is a + for this season. No short handed goals in this game! Woohooo!

Anonymous said...

"Atlanta sucks. They are just four points clear of the worse team in the NHL (haha Islanders) and have lost four straight games ... including one to the Isles (hahahaha). Their goaltending is woeful; the formerly reliable Moose Hedberg has a 3.62 gaa and a .885 save percentage. Their top defensemen, Matt Schneider and Ron Hainsey, are a combined -30."

Ain't karma a bitch?

Chris said...

Not that it played any significant part of the game, but how does Chris Drury get a high-sticking penalty when the ref is no more than 10 feet away and the Thrasher player was clearly hit by Lethonen's stick and not Drury's. Drury's stick didnt even come within 2 feet of the guys face.

Sorry, just had to vent that... everything else is pretty spot on, as usual.

Anonymous said...

Another quality post. I agree with nearly everything. I do think there is one current Ranger who's number will be retired (if he stays with the team and stays healthy): Henrik Lundqvist

Anonymous said...

We lost on Mike Richter night, we lost on Brian Leetch night, we lost on Adam Graves night, we have to go to OT to win on Mark Messier night.

This team will never win a cup. If they can't even win to honor their legendary players, they're never going to be able to give enough effort to win for a trophy.

Anonymous said...

Damn, not only is your blog dead-on accurate (I was up in the "cheap" seats [haha yeah, "recession"]), but the commenters were as well. "Potvin sucks" is still amusing and has meaning, but if you're gonna use it, use it against those teabagging Isles. Someone's gotta point out to the blueshirts where the net is because it was painful to watch all those wide open misses. At least the Heart of a Ranger event occurred...

Brother P said...


It was Adam Graves night and if he is/was a huge fan of the Soprano's then the cast being there is actually a good thing whether you like it or not.

As for the game Henrik is the worst puck handling goalie in the league. If he just covers up the puck Atlanta doesn't score. Instead he trys to play it off the boards, does a horrible job doing so and BAM a goal.

The Dark Ranger said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Scotty. This is the slow dismantling of our Blueshirts -- there continues to be nothing in the form of trade that might change the dynamics of our slumping leader-less team. Our Coach remains a players-coach (defined as one who does not bench anyone making over 2 mill a year) with a defensive sitback system that isn't effective when you dont' have a Blueline to begin with.

(Sigh). It's going to be a long season.


nyrmike21 said...

Just kind of tossing this out there, and yes it's very far fetched. How about the coaching staff gone, and in replacement, Graves, Leetch, Messier. Messier said he wants to be a part of the organization, Graves is part of the organization and Leetch, well he's just great. Maybe they could actually light a fire under these underachievers.

Anonymous said...

I know this will probably show up as Anonymous said...but I will give myself up with this one point...I got a mention in the blog WOO HOO!!! Yes I did mention about them getting a point. If I am not mistaken, my actual thought was they STOLE a point. I even said from the seats it was the most undeserved point they will get all year, but on the flipside, if that one point still allows them to play after April 12, I will take my chances.
I love that I was included in here by name. As that guy in 1994 who held the sign..."Now I can die in peace!!!"