Wednesday, December 9, 2009

14-14-2: Something More Than Nothing

Are you sure that Tom Renney no longer coaches the New York Rangers? I'm not. The Blueshirts played a typical Renney game in Chicago and lost to the Blackhawks 2-1. The good news? They were able to hold on to get a point before falling in overtime.

Just like the loss to Detroit, the Rangers got themselves a 1-0 lead and tried to nurse it to the final buzzer.

It didn't work.

The Blueshirt blueline actually acquitted themselves quite well throughout the night to limit Chicago to low-percentage scoring chances as the offense collapsed in front of them. That was, before Dustin Byfuglien walked right around Hobey Gilroy and slid the puck through a mediocre Henrik Lundqvist.

And yes, I thought Hank was quite mediocre. The talking heads on TV can rave all they like but Hank sat deep in his crease and rarely had to make a decent save - thanks to the defense in front of him if you can believe that (more on them later). The stop on Jon Toews in the second period was completely luck as Toews lost the puck and Hank's poke check missed. And this isn't just blind bashing; remember, I've been defending the King while the masses have been questioning his capability (especially after the Detroit loss). Which brings me to the new poll: do you think Hank will win Stanley with the Rangers? Not this year - there is a better chance of me going to the moon - but before he leaves New York, do you think Henrik Lundqvist will ever win a championship?

*The Hawks have a good chance this season, but they don't have the goaltending. Cristobal Huet is horrid and yet the Rangers barely tested him. One shot on goal in the third? How embarrassing.

*Donald Brashear's first shift back from "injury" and Ben Eager takes the puck right off his stick for a shot on net. He did recover and actually got some shots off. The pathetic part of it all? He had more, better chances than most of his teammates. If that doesn't make you feel shame, I don't know what does.

*Wade Redden also returned and was part of defense that did so well to keep the Hawks to the outside. I was more than ready to rail on him but he and the other five blueliners (even and especially Rozy) helped hold the fort as the offense collapsed in front of them. When you consider that none of them have the strength to knock players off the puck, they did yeoman work.

*But at the same time, it was the same old story with the Rangers: when they don't play the body around the net they set themselves up for trouble. Trapped around their own net the Blueshirts scramble, swing their sticks around and lose track of the puck, allowing Chicago to equalize with a power play goal. All someone (Brian Boyle) had to do was to knock Toews on his ass. That simple.

*After being an atrocious -4 against the Pens in the 5-2 loss, Chris Higgins has himself a three game point scoring streak. He opened this game's scoring with a high, hard wrister off the rush down the left wing. It was quite familiar as he scored the same way against Buffalo and he passed instead of shot on the Boyle goal against the Wings. Hey, if it works, keep doing it Chris.

*Cally couldn't come through with a goal but his penalty kill work in the third period keeps him off the hate list and gives a little reprieve before we get back to questioning his ability.

*Midway through the third period Ales Kotalik ran at Duncan Keith from behind for his third dirty/dangerous hit this season. When not taking big shots on the power play, this guy is a three million dollar waste of money. And he lost his power play time so he is rapidly becoming a prime contender for an offseason buy-out.

*OT - does anyone still think the Geico caveman commercials are funny or interesting? Did anyone in the first place? I won't buy their insurance purely because their advertising is so awful.

*How long before Arty Anisimov gets the BUST label and is shipped out of town? After an extended apprenticeship on the farm, Arty has been given every chance to succeed and hasn't. Maybe he will be better once Geno Grachev gets to Broadway, but can we wait that long?

*Why is it that Drury and Arty are doing so little shift after shift and Erik Christensen spends most of the game on the bench? The new guy went 4-0 at the faceoff dot on just seven shifts.

*Dru ... as mean as it sounds, I was hoping that that blocked shot would knock him out of the lineup again and for a long time. He contributes so little night after night and gets so many minutes. It is disheartening. Maybe when Dubi comes back the pressure will lessen and Dru can regain some of his game. This is the guy who has come through with so many clutch goals when the pressure is the highest and he appears to be crushed by his captaincy.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Jonathan Toews - one goal.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 39 saves.
1-Dustin Byfuglien - one goal.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Higgins - Even though he will be gone after this season, I think we need a nickname for him. Higgs? Higgy? Ziggy? One-and-Done? The Hab? Smithtown? I'm liking Smithtown - after his Long Island hometown. Whatever we call him, Higgins had his best game as a Ranger to date. Not saying too much but still an accomplishment.
2-Duncan Keith - Keith was on the ice every other shift for Chicago and moved the puck quite well. It was his feed that caught Byfuglien in stride so the big man could sweep around Hobey to score the game-winner.
1-Toews - So that is how a captain is supposed to lead his team. Skate hard, go to the net, get the puck and never give up.


Graying Mantis said...

As I mentioned elsewhere: I could live with the Rangers being mediocre if they were not so boring. At least with the football Jets, it's a rollercoaster. Rangers = Ambien + Sominex + chlorophyll.

Scoring 18 goals in 10 games (excluding the Columbus game) will not get it done unless your team plays tremendous defense and sometimes that is not enough. The team is populated with offensive stiffs and none of them should be excluded from the potential list of castaways -- from Callahan to Avery to Anisimov to Drury to Dubinsky to Higgins . . . .

The Rangers are dull, predictable and boring. An early Xmas present would be their falling completely out of playoff contention so I can save $$ on playoff games. Santa, are you listening?

BTW, Renney always stuck up for his players and took the heat from the media. He was not a great coach but he is better than Tortorella and was a coach the players mostly respected before getting stabbed in the back by at least one overpaid p.o.s. (former #19) who tanked on the team.

Sammael said...

That was abysmal... I haven't watched a full game in a few weeks because of work, and I wanted to make time for last night's game (I like the Hawks, talented team) and last night felt more hopeless than last season... This team has no heart left at all. It's been carved out and replaced with dread.

I really think there is no fixing this season. When they gutted this team in the off season, they took out alot of the wrong peices.

Damon LaScot said...

I think WAY RODDEN is the man who was closest to clear the crease on the tying goal, and he's a defenseman. The replay shows him just STANDING there LOOKING at the Hawks....unbelievable.

Point taken on Drury....could do without him. It's NYC syndrome....we get players who played well in other towns and stop producing once they get here...fairly common....LET THE KIDS PLAY...the season seems lost.

Brother P said...

Not sure what game you watched last night Scotty. Henrik was great last night. If he was anything less then great it would of been a 4-1 game.

Andrea said...

Unfortunately, Henrik is a three-carat diamond stuck on a rhinestone tiara. The way this team is constructed, no he'll never win it all here in NY. That pisses me off, too. He did play well in the last few games, but the sporadic offense doesn't help his cause. How Cup-worthy would he look, say, backstopping Chicago?

Unrelated, but you brought it up: I wish Geico would pick one STOOPIT character and stick with it. Either the gekko OR the pile of eyeballed cash OR the cavemen. Why not ask the annoying Progressive lady to hawk Geico, too.

Dan LD said...

Put Hank behind the Hawks instead of Huet and that's a cup team.

Hank hasn't been playing great, but the team in front of him is a disaster. He held on as long as he could last night with no goal support.

Also, did Prospal want a more open net on the shot he took before the Hawks won it?

Pete said...

I agree with Brother P. I thought Henrik really stepped it up for this game...and made a bunch of glove saves, to boot.

Granted there were a lot of shots from the point, but, I don't think you can look at a 41 shot night, with only 2 goals, and say that the goalie was mediocre and the defense was great. Even if the shot count was inflated by 25% (meaning that one out of every four "shots" was bogus) that still adds up to a 31 shot night, from an opposing team that has scoring depth. Then, considering the fact that there were 3 rangers in the crease on the tying goal, just getting in the way, you can't even hang the goal on Hank.

I more listened to the first 2 periods, rather than watched, but most of what I heard was "What a save by Lundqvist" and "Lundqvist robs so-and-so" and the replays seemed to be worthy of the praise...and that was from the B-Hawks booth.

I think Hank had a good game.

But, geeze, if it isn't one thing, it's another with this team. Defense blows, but we get 3 goals. Defense is solid, but the scorers stayed home. Same old song and dance.

NYR34 said...

Scotty - as I mentioned last night via text, I also respectfully disagree about Hank's performance. I think he did well to prevent that game from getting out of hand. The way the Hawks played against the Rangers all night, that came could have, and should have, been about 5-1. I was more enraged at the defense just getting in his way on that tying goal than anything else.

I suppose I just voted "not" on your poll because the way this team is currently built up, it'll never happen. Much like I think Brodeur's careeer stats are heavily padded (no hidden puns there, I promise!) by the Devils' longtime playing style, I think Renney's system of conservative play helped Hank stay more sharp during games.

We all knew with Torts' arrival that he'd be hung out to dry. And now we're seeing the results. So, until he shows me differently, I'd say no, he's not that guy who can win you a series on his own (see "Varlamov, Semyon").

Of course the problem is NO ONE is that guy for this team at this point.

Now, I'm just waiting for that one troll to return and say LUNDQVIST FOR GIGUERE in all caps like he has for the last week...

NYR34 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NYR34 said...

Yes, it's no secret Anaheim is fielding offers from teams for Giguere, but they're more likely to want a young guy in return, thus fully handing the team over to Hiller between the pipes.

Henrik will NOT fit that bill. I don't know off hand what the Ducks' salary info is, but I also wouldn't think that they'd be interested in Hank's contract. Not at least when they'd eventually have to give Hiller his payday in arbitration. Heck, he may already have for all I know.

If anything, I was surprised to hear rumors last night on Puck Daddy about Sharp and/or Barker from the Hawks to the Rangers. Assume for a moment they want/get Hank in return for such a package. What else are we getting back, Huet? Think his inconsistency would fly on Broadway?

Let's just say I was glad to see Wyshynski and his panel shoot the trade talk about that down in a hurry...

Unknown said...

I'm in the camp that think Lundqvist was great last night, but got zero support in front of him. 41 saves and the two goals he allowed were one when the whole blawkhawks top line crashed the net and the second was on a breakaway. Where was the defence on those two plays?

And as for the gamewinner, what the hell was prospal waiting for on his easy scoring chance right before the breakaway? Does he need an invitation to shoot?

As for Drury, he has been horrendous on faceoffs, so when Dubinsky comes back, why not slide Drury to wing where he has had some success in the past?

That way, lines could look like this:

*Higgins-Prospal-Gaborik (Higgins has been one of our better players of late)
*Drury-Dubinsky-Callahan (see what develops here with hard workers)
*Avery-Anisimov-Lisin (where has Lisin gone, he is like the new Prucha; plenty of speed and offense but gets buried on the bench. Let him play, this line did look good earlier in the year)
*Brashear-Christiansen-Boyle(Brashear wasn't attrocious last night, Christiansen is great at faceoffs, and Boyle has been good on the PK)

-sit kotalik to teach him a lesson and waive Voros to make cap room for dubinsky.

Anonymous said...

Did we watch the same game? Hank easily had his best outing in the last two weeks. You're usually pretty on with your assessments, even if you're a bit cynical for my tastes (and I'm a born cynic from NJ) but you couldn't have been more off this one.

That was a monster game by Lundqvist and once again, the offense didn't show up to play in any facet. There was zero puck control, barely any shots, and the few that did get there were mostly of the low percentage variety. Even the backchecking was halfassed.

The Toews goal doesn't happen if Boyle and other people take the body instead of trying to jab at the puck.

The defense did play a bit better, but it still wasn't anything above mediocre. They still faced a lot of shots (though some were because of a lack offensive puck control) and can't break out for their lives. Rozi looks so confused with the puck at his stick.


Anonymous said...

This team is made up of instances like when Prospal missed his shot in overtime and Dustin Byfuglien went racing up ice you could see Prospal completely give up. He didn't hustle back on defense (not that he had a chance to catch Byfuglien) but just sat there feeling sorry for himself. Pathetic.

Every night now it's excuses like "so and so was at the end of a shift and too tired to get back". Did anyone see a single Hawk last night looking tired, coasting, or slowing down at all, even at the end of their shift? These Rangers are supposed to be professionals, in mid-season form, but look slow and tired all the time. WTF?

Anonymous said...

I agree that Henrik wasn't incredible but he didn't make mistakes so for most of the game he didn't have to be.

Paul said...

Scotty I usually agree with your assessments of this team but you are way off on last night's game. Hank was the only reason the game didn't end 4-1 or 5-1 Hawks. The whole team looked flat and there was a lack of effort all around. Even Gaborik didn't back check in OT on the game winner.

Anonymous said...

Have I mentioned that I would love to see Glen Sather die in a fire?

Pete said...

That gives a new meaning to the phrase "Fire Sather" now doesn't it.

Pete said...
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Unknown said...

you're out of your mind if you're going to start calling artem anisimov a bust his rookie year. in fact, i think it'd be stupid to call any rookie a bust based on their rookie season. give him some time!

and yes, lundqvist has had a more average season than we expect of him thusfar, but look, 39/41 is still 39/41. and i don't think either blackhawks goal was a soft goal. in the regulation goal, he had to dive from one post to the other to make a save, and while he was down, toews popped it over him (boyle was standing in the crease right next to toews, should have gotten him out of there). and the byfuglien goal was a really good shot.

Andrea said...

Well, Hobey's paying the price. He's been sent down. Are we going to lose him on the waiver wire?!?

Dan said...

scotty i love your blog. But sometimes you are wrong. Artem Anisimov is the biggest bust of the year and should be sent away??? are you freakin kidding me? he hasnt even played a full season the fact that your writing him off absolutely shocks me beyond anything. And henrik mediocre? like noah said 39/41 is still 39/41. Was is a bad game? yes. Should it have been a shutout? yes. but the fact that you are blaming artem and henrik is rediculous. i didnt read anything saying about girardi taking a bad, what was it, fourth straight penalty for the rangers? in that situation you are practically handing the hawks a goal. Blame sather for brashear, or the team for taking 3 penalties in a row, dont blame your best player.

K24 said...

Anyone else notice that Avery can't seem to accept a pass lately?

And Tony V...chlorophyll=what makes plants green.

Sammael said...

Man, the Hawks with either Guigere or Henrik backstopping them = cup.

That team has amazing depth. They need to win now. There is no telling how long they can keep both Toews and Kane.

Trading Sharp would be a bad idea for them right now.

Seems the Hawks have the problem with goaltending that we have with defense. They have shelled out big money a number of times now and always end up with half of what they expected. Khabibulan was hot and cold, no inbetween. Huet is mediocre. Our defense has a few expensive members who don't do shit. Redden can't take a hit from anyone without falling on his ass and coughing up the puck. I would have been happier with Tyutin. At least he looked like he was trying.