Wednesday, April 15, 2009

R1 G1: Well, A Win Is A Win ...

The Ranger 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals to open up their playoff series may have been one of the worse playoff games I have ever seen. The penaltyfest had whistle after whistle on nickle-dime calls while big stuff went unpunished. This was an early season game where the officials wanted to make their presence known. I was annoyed to the point of boredom just waiting for the next stoppage.

The Ranger defense was mediocre, the offense was weak and the goaltender gave up three goals but thankfully, Jose Theodore was horrendous. The Washington netminder looked like a ShooterTutor out there with all of the wide open holes. But as terrible a game as it was, at least the Rangers got the needed result - a road win.

*The Ranger offense was quite weak - taking silly penalties, making terrible passes, missing checks - but Dubi's game-winning goal was fun to watch. He took a bad pass, set Jeff Schultz spinning like a top and put yet another intensely stoppable shot between the near post and swiss cheese Theodore. Maybe Schultz caught a rut, maybe he just couldn't keep up with the streaking Ranger, maybe Staalsie looked just as bad later, who cares - Dubi made Schultz look like an amateur and his goaltender couldn't bail him out. It was awesome.

*All four goals by the Blueshirts were stoppable by a good goaltender. Their best shot of the game was by Cally and it hit a post. Gomez one-on-one blows the puck by Theodore with a wrister that hit maybe 65 mph, Borat's open shot sailed over his shoulder and the former MVP waved at Markus Naslund's shot as it went by him.

*My how things have flipped around for Naslund. He used to be able to get a hat trick of goals and take one penalty; in this game he got one goal and three penalties. When you jam on the gas as hard as you can, the car goes a little out of control. Nazzy is emptying the tank with the pedal to the metal and he just needs to keep his hands on the wheel for just a few more weeks before he rolls into retirement (hopefully).

*All of the credit that I gave to Gomez for his interview the other day was completely obliterated in this one. How the smug bastard can sit and rip on the journalist deigning to speak to him during a game of such magnitude is petty and immature. I thought he had grown up after the classy interview during the Flyer game; instead he reverted back to this. It's not funny, it's rude and unprofessional.

*Now you want comedy, Tom Poti confronting Sean Avery after a whistle was priceless! What is Poti going to do, hit him with his purse and call him a big meaniehead? You brute!

*The Viktor Kozlov goal to make it 3-2 was a perfect redirect after he slipped past Staalsie. Sadly it came after a clear elbow slipped past the officiating. Green took a page from Chris Pronger and nearly decapitated Freddie Sjostrom on the boards but there was no elbowing, no boarding, no nothing. Sergei Fedorov cross checks Avery from behind after a whistle, in front of the ref and no penalty. And yet the stripes saw an infraction 20 seconds into the game when Dan Girardi touched the Capital with his loose hand.

*MSG - I like Amstel, really, I do. I drink quite a lot of it. But every commercial break? Surely there are more ads available in the inventory?? Dadadadapdadadadadap. Damn do I hate the Fratellis (the group who wrote the song). Maybe that will be the next poll - what is more annoying, that commercial or the damn Geico campaign with the stupid money with eyes?

*And you guys laughed at me for being a Blair Betts fanboy for all those months! Let's see, 7:41 of his 12:20 of ice time was shorthanded and he was fantastic. Five blocked shots! Hard work pays off kids ... too bad Nik Zherdev isn't listening.

*With the NHL's insistence of secrecy on injuries, we have no idea what kept Chris Drury out. So, of course, I will think the worse. He is just a weakling who wanted a night off. What ever happened to hockey players as warriors? He was able to skate in warmups and you are telling me he wasn't well enough or motivated enough to take up that stellar three minutes that Aaron Voros got? When Drury got his Cup, Peter Forsberg finished a playoff game with a burst spleen!

*During the postgame Maloney said that the "much-maligned" defensemen Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden were incredible. No, they weren't. But they weren't bad. Sure, Rozy turned away from some hits, Redden fumbled the puck a few times and made two or three bad passes but neither one took stupid penalties or abandoned their posts in the defensive zone. Amazing how good they can look playing average games after they've set the bar so very, very low.

*Stat of the night: I could go with the obvious - 11 power plays in a game that really didn't have much violence (a few hits but not a whole lot of venom) - but instead 30%, the amount of power plays that the Rangers won. They lost 46 of the 66 draws, allowing the Caps to dictate the action.

*How much pressure do you think there is on Brent Johnson to get better? The injured netminder was better than Theodore before undergoing hip surgery and would be huge in this series if he was 100%. He is a streaky netminder and if he was to get hot, he could play just as good as Hank. Good thing he is still cooling off on the IR.

*Many thanks to Allen at Off Wing Photo for all of the pics used with this post. Some great work dude.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Brandon Dubinsky - one goal.
2-Scott Gomez - one goal and two assists.
1-Alexander Ovechkin - two assists.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - The King was fantastic. The first goal against was tipped, the second was on a power play and the third he had no chance at stopping. Every time he had to make a big save, he did and unlike Theodore, he gave his team a chance to win.
2-Cally - The most motivated Ranger, Cally again threw his body around making hits, blocking shots, clearing pucks, pressuring puckholders, taking shots, hitting posts - an incredible effort.
1-OV - He really is a hockey god. I mean, he was everywhere. Everywhere. OV lost his helmet, finished a tough shift, took a rest for a few seconds, grabbed someone else's helmet and got right back into the fray. Wow.


Jeff L. said...

Scotty, normally I like most of what you write, but this post is complete garbage. You're tearing a team apart that just stunned almost the entire hockey community by beating the #2 in game one on their own ice.

Why can't you look at the positives..? And you're wrong about R&R. Those two guys saved our ass on the backline tonight, as Staal had a God-awful game and Girardi was meh. Mara & Morris were unspectactular, though I like their battle level.

Still, Redden was the best defenseman on the ice for the Rangers tonight, coming from someone who dislikes him.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what game you were watching... as usual Redden still made sloppy passes, on two accounts that i can think of, that resulted in a turnover. He did overall improve his gameplay actually contributing to the defensive play, but was in no way the best blue liner out there tonite. Roszival played significantly better than him and also noticed Mara and Morris playing a solid and physical game. Staal and Girardi definitely weren't their bests tonite (the goal by kozlov) but would not say god awful.

Anonymous said...

what Jeff L. said

Chris said...

Scotty, maybe I'm missing the sarcasm in your view of Drury's injury or something, but you've never been more wrong about a player. I've seen him play since his high school days, and he's never missed a shift unless something was very wrong. If he's not playing, it's probably coming from up high, maybe getting him to 100% for a game 2 and beyond.

Anonymous said...

As usual a Ranger playoff game, that you need oxygen near by. Why can't we ever dominate in a playoff game. Don't get me wrong I am happy that we made it. But for crying out loud, can they ever play a crisp, clean game. The penalty's were insane. The ref's tried to announce their presence with authority. That means the Rangers get caught on the short end. I guess the elbow to Andropov was a clean hit (as Joe said).. give me a break. That was not clean and there should have been a penalty. Avery being used as mop, getting hit from all over and nothing called. Welcome to Ranger playoff hockey. Saturday will be interesting to say the least. Keep up the good work Scott

Duniyadnd said...

I'll have to disagree with the Zherdev comment for this game. He skated hard, you could see he wanted to get the puck back every time it was in the Caps hands, and he had a pretty good first period.

Now he just has to get his offensive game back into groove, it seems that he gets closed down too easily and needs a little bit of initial momentum to get free. His role in the powerplay doesn't seem to suit him, the other unit seemed a lot more effective against the Caps.

And Zherdev does seem to care for his teammates. Sjostrom got hit hard and he was the first one there to check on him, even got into a minor tussle, and he's done that consistently all year.

As for the injuries rule in the NHL, it's up to the team if they want to declare what the injury is, so blame the Rangers for disclosing that.

After reading your entire review, the end feeling felt as if the Rangers lost instead of won the game, don't know why. :)

Still enjoy reading your reviews though - keep it up!

Anonymous said...

On a different note, those Geico commercials are effing horrendous. I can't stand them.

Scotty Hockey said...

Jeff - Stunned? C'mon, the Rangers were picked as the dark horse team by a significant amount of the media. I did look at the positives - Hank and Cally were fantastic. But I have to agree with Anon, there is no way Redden was the best defender out there. Morris was quite good, as was Mara and Girardi. Staal did have quite the off night tho.

Chris - you may be right on Dru, it may have been a decision from up high or something but without the NHL ever disclosing injuries, we just can't know. The fact is that no one saw him undergo a major injury (a puck to the arm two games ago, that's it) and he was able to skate in warmups ... so it does allow room for questioning. Bobby Baun played with a broken ankle, Avery and Forsberg had screwed up spleens. So what's so wrong with Drury?

Outlaw - it is getting ridiculous with Avery. Sure the refs don't like him but its their job to protect the players from injury and the other teams are out to kill the guy.

Dun - I disagree on Z but we have disagreed on him in the past if I recall. He seems to lose pucks and give up on them just too often for my tastes. As for leaving a losing impression ... well, you guys know me, I am quite tough on the team - then again when everyone was raving early in the season, I pointed out the deficiencies and was proven right in the long run.... =op

mike said...

I guess I should be glad I missed this game.

Jeff L. said...

No, Mike, you shouldn't, which is exactly why I don't like this article, at all. It spins almost everything in a negative light.

We won the f'ing game. We were the ONLY lower seed to upset the home team last night, that's something to be proud of. You act (and write) as if the Rangers lost this game. Even Rodent wasn't as critical, and he's known for being that way.

And no, you didn't look at the positives, you looked at two of many. What about the fact that we scored two PP goals in a period? That we didn't score the first goal, were on the road, and still managed to get the job done? Or that WE now have home-ice advantage in this series? or the fantastic work on the PK at key times, despite yielding two in the game. There were so many, and you don't mention a one.

I'm afraid it's always 'glass half-empty' in Scotty Hockey Land.

Scotty Hockey said...

Jeff - I don't need to rave about the PK, I've been doing that every game since I started this blog. The only other thing I will address is that we DON'T now have home ice advantage now, it is even - three home games for us, three for them.

Anonymous said...

yes we do have home ice now. with one win and 3 home games left that is defined as home ice. otherwise if a team is down 0-2 and has 3 of next 5 at home they can say they have home ice advantage.