Sunday, January 3, 2010

19-17-5: There's No Place Like Home, Right?

After winning six of their first eight games at the Garden this season, the Rangers fell to 1-5-3 in their last nine by losing 2-1 in overtime to the worst team in the NHL.

Yeah. No place like home.

Aside from the one victory, they scored two or less goals in the other eight games and only managed one this afternoon despite chance after chance after chance. These guys oughta pay dues to Ironworker Locals 40 & 361 for all of those shots that hit post or crossbar. It was bad. So very, very bad. (Like that half-hearted joke.)

But at the same time, it is hard not to be a little happy with the game. The Rangers got a point, and they did get one puck in ... showing just how low the bar was dropped with the Philadelphia debacle last week. Things are not good in the Garden right now but there are signs of a better future. The question is, will we get there before it is too late?

There were more shots on goal, there were a few cohesive attacks and the defense didn't do too many dumb things. Of course, the majority of the shots weren't good, many of the drives were offsides, the power play was atrocious and defensive lapses allowed the two goals against but it's a new year so let's not think of those things. At least until they start outright losing and getting embarrassed by teams that are above .500.

Teams like, say, Boston on Monday.

But seriously, if I did that, I wouldn't be able to put together many observations from this game for you guys so perhaps I will put the whole 'look at the bright side' outlook on hold for a few minutes:

*The Rangers had several good rushes but aborted them themselves by pulling up short and looking for passes. That shows just how low the confidence level is at this point and but it takes just one herculean effort to turn it around with so many games this month.

*Brian Boyle (of all people) came out of the gate on fire during the Rangers strong start with several hits and nearly a fight but, like most of his teammates, he faded to obscurity as the grind of the afternoon went on.

*Aaron Voros wasn't even given that chance. I remember seeing him all of once in the game even though the event summary says he got four shifts for 2:18 of ice time. Really, for that much, what's the point of dressing him at all?

*Chris Drury proved most skeptics correct by showing that he is incapable of doing much outside of the Ranger end. And, even then, he panicked twice in the Ranger zone and threw the puck over the boards once and down for an icing the other time. Ladies and gentlemen, your Ranger captain and member of Team USA.

*The standard NHL goal is four feet high, six feet wide Chris Higgins, try to shoot the puck inside it.

*While we may doubt the effort from Redden at times ... ok, all the time ... let it be said that MDZ has not let up one bit. The kid is one of the few Rangers consistently getting involved in the action chasing the puck, playing the body and getting himself into good positions to move the puck. He is making a slew of mistakes but that comes with the territory; he is a teenager.

*I felt Hobey fared better but the coaching staff isn't putting him into many big spots. He had one great rush down the ice but went into traffic and ended up being below the goal line before trying to take a shot. Oops.

*Going to the net, however works. For everyone. The curious question is why the Rangers don't realize that. Dubi scored that way in Carolina, Gabby scored that way in this game. And yet power play after power play is spent with the players out on the perimeter ... I just don't get it.

*Erik Christensen is settling in to the first line pretty well but it appeared that Torts was already shuffling him to the wing and putting Dubi back in the middle. It doesn't seem to work for either of them.

*I counted just two Whalers jerseys in the crowd, which I find quite disappointing. I mean, it was nice to have a crowd made up primarily of Ranger fans but the lack of flow and lack of goals kept the audience hushed for most of the afternoon.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Marian Gaborik - one goal.
2-Ray Whitney - one goal.
1-Cam Ward - 27 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cam Ward - Dude made two goos saves I remember but was beat six seven times; he got the win because of Ranger incompetence, not because of stellar netminding.
2-Gabby - It is like he is playing in a void. There is Gaborik and then there is everyone else.
1-Aaron Ward/Matt Cullen - It is remarkable how well these guys play when they face the Rangers when you consider how poorly they played while they were Rangers. What could they possibly have against the organization that gave them outrageous multi-million dollar contracts despite being completely mediocre players? And yet they are all over the ice, pressing the action, playing physically - doing everything they didn't while wearing Blueshirts. Bastards.


Anonymous said...

You know fucking what I knew it was to good to be true with this team. Torts and Sather have to go, Drury, Redden, Kotalik, Boyle, and Brashear have to go. Send Callahan and Artem Arsuckass down to the minors to. Serious changes and challenges face this team now and the playoffs are something that will not be happening for this team in 2010

Dennis said...

Send Callahan down to the minors??? He's one of the only Rangers who hustles night in and night out. I agree with you on the other deadbeats though. Hey look on the bright side....Cablevision just raised my rates and took away like a half dozen channels which will net them a lot more $$$. Maybe Dolan is getting prepared to eat $35 million in salary....yeah, I know, and maybe Redden will make the Olympic Team. DOH!

Leine said...

I went to this game--first one in about ten years.

What feels more painful is that the crowd has NO investment. We show up, but this team is about as inspiring as a MoMA showpiece--confusing, frantic, and unappealing. Cally was a bright spot, as is Gaborik and Hank. I know Higgins sucks, but it's another thing to see it in person!

NYR34 said...

While I was actually quite glad not to have wasted the bulk of a Saturday afternoon going into and out of the city for this one, I was then faced with the dilemma of having to watch MSG.

Your Micheletti-ism of the day:

Mere moments after showing the first Carolina goal during the intermission recap, and noting how the Canes caught Hank in lateral motion in order to score the goal, they then show Dubinsky getting Ward in exactly the same predicament. He of course did not score - he held the puck for just enough fractions of a second that Ward got set and made the stop.

A normal color analyst would then say, "See Sam, this is what went wrong on that play and that's why it didn't result in a score... you gotta get that shot off right away or the goalie'll set himself".

No, he says "And Dubinsky did such a great job teeing that up and it was oh so close" or something to that effect.

Thanks Joe. Really. Oh, and better yet, go to MSG Rangers On Demand and look for him snickering alongside Trautwig and Maloney in-studio on the postgame. Glad you think the offensive woes are a laughing matter.

NYR34 said...

Oh, and did anyone catch the postgame interview with Christensen? It was epic. Not only was he the only one who didn't find that played an awesome game, he also made some great comments about his other locales of his playing career (read: Atlanta) and their passion for the game (read: none) when asked about how he deals with the boos from the crowd at MSG.

I'm trying to find it on MSG's website and NHL Netowrk online but I had a feeling the Bettman police might be a little too reluctant to let that slip.

Andrea said...

Oh yeah NYR34! I saw Christensen's soliloquy! Quite a speech--pressure from the knowledgeable crowd, squeezing sticks--he even name-checked Higgins. I also noticed the room was silent. Kid was obviously by himself. The NYR PR guy must've been off getting Gabby his Gatorade. Was that a smirk Erik was sporting? I think it was. . . "I haven't been here that long, but . . ." then he unloads like a fan! Helluva piece of theater.