Tuesday, December 15, 2009

14-15-3: At Least We Got A Point!

After watching so many losses of late at the Garden, it was nice leaving the building with the team having earned a point in their 3-2 shootout loss to Atlanta. Seriously. Just think about the point - nothing more. Just the point. Because if you look into that point, and look at the game that was played to get that point ... well, you'll want to puke. I know I do.

If a team puts so much effort to force a shootout, don't you think they would want to actually show up for said shootout? Marian Gaborik went wide and took a half-assed wrist shot right at Moose Hedberg's leg. Ilya Kovalchuk pulled his best Michal Nylander to outwait Henrik Lundqvist to score. Ales Kotalik, well, he just lost the puck - somehow appropriate considering Sather signed him for his shot and his acumen in shootouts. Slava Kozlov ends it all on Hank, who barely flinched as the puck was fired past him.

Of course, this game should never have reached a shootout, what with all of the missed chances during regulation. MDZ blowing chances on the doorstep, Sean Avery and Kotalik missing mostly empty nets and Chris Higgins missing everything. It has been an on-going thing between my buddy Eric and I that he rails at Higgins' misses, and I defend the kid's effort - at least he is trying. Well, on Higgins first big miss where his open wrister hit the glass behind the goal, Eric turned and just started yelling at me, 'hey, at least he tried!!!!' I laughed hysterically and things just got worse from there with Higs missing gift-wrapped chances again and again and again. If you don't laugh, you cry.

But at least he tried.

Time is short for me tonight so more thoughts on the game:

*It was nice to have Brandon Dubinsky back but he clearly did not have faith in his shot. He passed up prime chances to shoot the puck and when he did, the puck lacked all zip. Dubi did provide a spark and will be a big help but not until he regains his confidence in his body and his skills.

*With Dubi in the lineup, Erik Christensen was benched - another mistake among the myriad of blunders by Tortorella. It was somehow ironic/poetic/pathetic that Christensen's former Penguin pal Colby Armstrong scored for Atlanta. When you pick up an offensive-minded forward off waivers, why would you not dress him when your team is lacking offense? To keep Arty Anisimov or Brian Boyle in the lineup? Anisimov's play resembles that of the actual Russian hockey-playing bears and Boyle is the smallest big man I think I have ever seen ... check that, second smallest after Mr. Malik.

*P.A. Parenteau was bounced back to Hartford so Enver Lisin can get back into action but he hardly got any ice time at all. He would have been perfect to throw out on the ice in the overtime with him not tired and having all the space for his speed but instead he rotted on the bench.

*Vinny Prospal - where hast thou gone? Already looking for a new home before the trade deadline?

*Do the Rangers have a penchant for inflating save totals or what? Hedberg, Joey MacDonald, Rick DiPietro ... these guys come out looking like superstars while barely having to break sweats stopping the half-hearted garbage tossed their way by the limp Ranger offense.

*Ron Hainsey did the Rangers a favour by pulling down Chris Drury on the breakaway. There was no way in hell that Dru was going to score and instead of wasting a shot on net, the Blueshirts got a power play and MDZ found Cally for a purty goal.

*I said it first, I've said it several times before and it looks like I will be stuck saying it for a long time - Chris Drury will go down as the worst captain in team history. Sure he can kill some penalties but he has no offense, rarely wins big faceoffs and looks lost out on the ice while chasing the puck. If he doesn't put up points against the Islanders - the one team he historically shows up against - on Wednesday or Thursday, then all hope for him is lost.

*There is simply no hope for Redden or Rozy or Brash but we knew that already. I may loathe Brash but at least he doesn't hurt his team while mindlessly lurching around the ice. Redden and Rozy are outright incompetent and seemingly incapable of making it through games without sending some passes directly to the opposition. I was actually glad Brash didn't fight Boulton, there was no need for their brand of goonery in this game.

*As miserable as much of the night was, that third period 5-on-3 kill for more than a minute was one of the best things I have seen in the Garden in several years.

*The building woke up for that, a nice change from the sleepy moribund atmosphere that filled it for the rest of the evening. And the Rangers are certain to claim a sell-out but if there were more than 14,000 fans in the building I would be shocked. More than half the luxury boxes were empty and there were wide swaths of empty seats everywhere you looked. To their credit, a friend reported that Garden staff were giving free upgrades to many people up in the Blue Seats. Because the hardcore fans wanted to get closer to the steaming, stinking pile of ... Ranger hockey. Still, it was a nice thing for the Garden to do.

*Nice to see Harry Howell and Eddie Giacomin back in the building and getting recognized by the few fans who were awake.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Marian Gaborik - one goal.
2-Michael Del Zotto - two assists.
1-Johan Hedberg - 46 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hedberg - Moose maintained his composure instead of laughing at the pitifully weak attempts against him - like Kotalik's shootout performance.
2-Ron Hainsey - USA! USA! USA! Hainsey logged big minutes and was rock solid. Plus he made a good feed to Army to set up the shorty that made it a 2-1 game for Atlanta. Hainsey and Zach Bogosian wouldn't be a bad pairing for the Americans to take to Vancouver.
1-Slava Kozlov - The ageless former Red Wing almost always does well against the Rangers and this game was no different as he recorded a power play goal and the shootout winner.


Anonymous said...

Something needs to be done, maybe we should pick up the two defense-men off waivers from Carolina. At least Ward can hit and score

Pete said...

Maybe I'm being a pessimist, but I'm betting the Garden staff were told to upgrade seats so that, when the announcers gloat about how this is another sell-out crowd (which both announce teams at least mention just about every game), it doesn't look out of place that there are empty seats all over that first tier.

Andrea said...

Yeah, Pete may be right. A friend from Denver texted to tell me the Garden looked empty on the teevee.

Ctrain016 said...

The Rangers are soft is the understatement of the year. Maybe torts should try the wrench drill that Patches O'Houlihan used in Dodgeball. If you can dodge a wrench, you can clear out the crease.

Right on with Higgins. He's a local kid, so you want to root for him but somethings gotta give. He had 5 prime time scoring chances last night and didn't do anything with them. Far and away, he was the difference in regulation.

Unknown said...

Scotty - I know you've openly mused about whether the team is ignoring what Torts is preaching, so I'm wondering if you've read/heard anything from journalists or other beat writers about that actually beginning to take place.

I was excited at the prospect of a no nonsense system being implemented all year (with Gaborik!), but now I dread the thought of this being the norm for the next few years.

Pete said...

Does anyone here think that there's anything that can turn this team around this season? And, by turn around, I mean be a legit cup contender, and not just make it to the playoffs.

NYR34 said...

Myself being the friend Scotty alluded to in the above post, I'm sure that's exactly what it was. Usually you'll see like 1 or 2 parties a game get seat upgrades, but the Blueseats last night were bustling with Garden reps getting as many people as they could down to the lower bowl. All of us up there were sure it was to make the TV shots look better.

Don't forget, EVERY GAME gets officially reported to the NHL by MSG Inc. as a full house of 18,200 when we all know that's not the case. Between me, our neighbors up in our section, and Scotty, we were all guessing 12,000-14,000 actually there last night.

NYR34 said...

Last I heard, the Rangers were supposedly around 700-something thousand bucks under the cap at this point. That's barely enough to get someone at the league minumum. The only way to get such a thing is to trade existing players for players with smaller contracts.

Sadly, the players most in need of being moved to get said cap space back aren't appealing to any other franchise.

I hate to say it, as I love the guy and have wanted him in a Ranger uniform for several years, but the best trade chip the team has right now is Higgins. He has an expiring contract and is playing well enough each night, he's just not seeing the results on the stat sheet. Another club on the playoff bubble could easily go the "eh, maybe he needs a change of scenery" route after the Olympic break and see if he can add some extra talent to a late season playoff push.

Duniyadnd said...

Sometimes I wonder if US sports should adopt the league structure as it is in in Europe for football, which creates that sense of urgency of keeping that franchise intact and competitive and gives other teams that are actually getting better play against the big boys. This would mean owners like the Dolans would get kicked out by shareholders faster than you can say Doh!

Pete said...

yeah, but i'd hate to see a big carlsburg logo replace the team logo on the front of the blueshirt. of course, here it would be a big budweiser logo, or a pfizer or blackberry logo. it could be cool to see the bud ice penguin again. dubi dubi do.