Sunday, January 2, 2011

22-14-3: Happy New Years

By a show of hands, how many of you believe that the Rangers missed the ball dropping because they headed to bed early the night before their game against the Lightning?

I don't see a single hand in the air so you - like I - believe that the team rang in the New Year in some form. Whether they overindulged or just regularly indulged is irrelevant, the result of their celebration showed on the ice as the team played quite poorly in their 2-1 overtime loss tonight. When you consider the circumstances - New Years libations in Florida - the point in the standings that the team escaped with looks a lot better than the game that it was earned in.

The game itself should and could be completely written off but let's face it, we don't work that way. It will recede into memory much faster should the team beat the Panthers tomorrow but until then, let's take a quick look at some notes:

*Having the Winter Classic in prime time isn't a bad idea but having other games going on is. It was quite difficult to concentrate on the Blueshirts while the world was keying on the Classic.

*Personally, I have always believed that the axiom that 'the clothes make the man' is nonsense - the man makes the man. Well, Henrik Lundqvist was the man, despite his Sipowicz-inspired attire (a tie on a short sleeved dress shirt). Hank was nothing short of outstanding. He made good glove saves, his positioning was perfect and he could hardly be faulted for his team's inability to score.

*Some credit is due to Cedrick Desjardins but not much. The rookie left a lot of open net to shoot at but the Rangers couldn't figure out how to get to it (here is a hint, RAISE THE PUCK). That being said, how can you not feel for the kid when he wins his second straight game - allowing just two goals on 63 shots over 120 minutes - and then gets the job he appears to earn taken away moments after the final buzzer as Stevie Y decided to trade for Dwayne Roloson. That has to be soul crushing.

*What did Sean Avery do last night to piss off John Tortorella? Did he bring his teammates to a late-night party full of strippers and booze? He must have done something because Torts limited him to six minutes of ice time. Avery had three shifts in the second period and two in the third while the team struggled to create offense and match Tampa's physicality.

*Mike Sauer and Matt Gilroy were on the ice for both of Tampa's goals. Neither were Sauer's fault as Gilroy pinched on Dana Tyrell's goal and then sprawled out on Nate Thompson's. Two unfortunate mistakes that should open the door for Del Zotto's return to the lineup, which is a shame. Torts has said that the team has to deal with the mistakes of the youth so to bench one for the other would be folly. He should bench Rozy, who was ineffective offensively yet again and mediocre defensively. There is no upside left in Rozsival, Gilroy could have a future.

*Brandon Prust has become a favourite of Ranger fans and deservedly so. But everyone should agree that he doesn't deserve more than 18 minutes of ice time, especially when the Rangers take just three penalties. If the team is going to keep Mats Zuccarello around then he deserves more minutes - preferably without the albatross that is Alex Frolov around his neck.

*The third member of that all-Euro line, Arty Anisimov, shows good offensive instincts - can't take that away from him. He simply is not strong enough to take advantage of them. When he goes into traffic he either loses the puck or gets pushed around. Arty achieved when he was paired with stronger players who would do the work in the trenches for him - Prust-Shelley and Dubi-Cally. When with them, he could stay on the outskirts and take advantage of the opportunities. With Frolov and MZA ... notsomuch.

*On the topic of underachieving Europeans, it was nice of Marian Gaborik to show up before the game ended. Unless that was his plan: do absolutely nothing for as long as possible until the other team believed he was incapable of doing anything. Mattias Ohlund didn't block the feed and Mike Lundin was more concerned about the pass behind the net than the man standing in front of it. Let's just hope that the goal kick starts something in the Slovak sniper because the rest of the team has been overachieving up to this point, it is about time the star does his job too.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Nate Thompson - one goal and one assist.
2-Henrik Lundqvist - 31 saves.
1-Cedrick Desjardins - 34 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Adam Hall and Dominic Moore - Neither ex-Ranger put up any points but they terrorized the Rangers with their physical play and nonstop pressure.
2-Thompson - Damned Islander dirtbag is cut from the same blue collar mold and he had a goal, an assist and a 8-4 record in the faceoff circle.
1-Hank - Without Hank this game would have been over in the first period.


cwgatti said...

Best Ranger analysis on the web.
Keep it up.

Andrea said...

Not your intention, I'm sure, but you made it sound like Hank wore the nerd look DURING the game. Brightened my blah morning :-)

Anonymous said...

Not all the blame should be on Gilroy for those goals. Hell, not even sure if any should be. Yeah, he pinched on the first one and mis-timed his sliding block on the second, but it was actually Gaborik who needs to take some (all the?) blame on both. Goal one - Gilroy pinches. Any hockey kid from squirt-level on up knows that if your D goes up, a forward needs to cover. Gabby did that, but instead of backing out when they came at him, which anyone not comfortable with or used to playing D should do there, he himself pinched in to attempt a half-assed check on the puck carrier. It did diddly-squat, and the Lightning were off to the races for the goal. Goal two, Sauer takes out a forward, Gilroy is left with the rest. Again, any squirt knows you take the pass in that situation, so that's what he tried to do. Misplay on his part, yes, because he missed it, but Gaborik's lame excuse for a back-check led to him just standing there and watching as TB scored the winner. Gilly's not perfect, but Gabby needs to shoulder some of the defensive responsibility, and therefore the blame as well.

Anonymous said...

wow a sad performance, Tampa Bay is good but not that good, watch us miss the playoffs again this year if we don't start seeing consistency

craig said...

interesting take on Arty's line pairings, i agree

anonymous...the second goal is on gilroy as he should not leave his feet like that and be in no mans land. playing the pass means playing the man that is going to accept the pass, not just sliding through the lane

i think gilroy should stay in for his offensive instincts as the team needs goals and i like his pinching and rushes

dejardins played well

Pete said...

Just a funny story; I got to see Desjardins play here in Wilkes-Barre versus the WBS Penguins earlier in December. Norfolk and the Pens had a brawl-filled night prior to the game I saw, and they continued with fights and scrums all night. I had comped seats to the game, 2nd row center, so I was close to all the action. With about a minute left in the game, and Norfolk up by more than a few points, all 10 skaters on the ice got in a pile up brawl. The goalies were looking at each other. Desjardins likes to lift his mask when there is a stoppage. I, of course, wanted to see a goalie fight, so I caught Desjardins' attention and motioned for him to go across the ice and start something up. He just smiled at me and shook his head. The exchange made my night, even if I didn't get to see the goalie fight.