Wednesday, December 21, 2011

19-8-4: Beating Brodeur

As a Ranger fan, there have been few things as delightful in recent seasons as the sheer domination of Henrik Lundqvist over Mmmmaaaarrrtttyyy. Hank has been largely lights-out while Fatso has been finding life against the Rangers difficult without the stellar defenders who made his career at the turn of the century.

On Tuesday, after watching his team dominate for 37 minutes, Mmmmaaaarrrtttyyy melted like the marshmallow man he resembles. The Rangers rallied from down 1-0 to defeat the Devils 4-1 in the opening game of the season series between the Hudson rivals. Henrik was outstanding, stopping 30 of 31 shots and standing tall as his team was outworked for two periods. And he did it behind a piecemeal defensive corps, making it that much more remarkable. But we call him the King for a reason and he showed it on this night.

Late Hits:

*There aren't many more ardent supporters of fighting in hockey then me. That being said, Mike Rupp vs. Cam Janssen three seconds into the game was horrifying and unnecessary. There was no reason for it other than to justify the salaries of those cement-headed neanderthals. This was the first meeting of the teams this season, there was no carry over bad blood between the two teams or the two fighters. It was pointless. And it is exactly the kind of ammunition that the doves crave to push their pacifistic agenda. Dubi fighting Clarkson wasn't part of the game either but at least those guys have been immersed in this rivalry for years and have genuine on-ice dislike for each other.

*Given all of the ice time he eats up and the top assignments he has so often taken on, it has been easy to forget that Ryan McDonagh is just a kid. McD has been helped by stalwart work by Dan Girardi, who seemingly wants to play all 60 minutes alongside Hank. So far the pair haven't shown many signs of grinding down but the team has to be wary - this is a loooooong season. But back to McD for a second - this was just his 72nd game in the NHL. Can you believe that? I can't. It is unfathomable to me considering his level of play 95% of the time. But that five percent does remind you on rare occasion like the performance against Tampa and his catch and throw of the puck in the third period tonight. That was comical.

*Also funny? The majority of the Devil fans. All 4,000 of them. They seemingly have embraced their role as second-class citizens, aping other team's chants and celebrations while knowing virtually nothing about the game. There are a few knowledgable, intelligent members of the so-called Devil's Army but most are ignorant cannon fodder.

*Despite being on the bad side of the battle for two periods, the Rangers could easily have had the lead if their three shots off the iron found the back of the net. They were good shots each, but with Mmmmaaaarrrtttyyy's girth there wasn't much to shoot at.

*Del Zastrous performance. Counted four times that he couldn't hold the offensive blue line, two defensive zone turnovers and a few blown coverages.

*The pairing of Tim Erixon and Stu Bickel wasn't bad but it was clear that Torts was trying to shelter them. Bickel looked better than he did in preseason but is still not quick enough for regular NHL action. Erixon didn't look particularly comfortable but his decision making with the puck was good.

*Bork, bork, bork! Young Carl was the only Ranger aside from Hank to play great buzzer to buzzer. And it paid off in his shorthanded goal. As I said to a friend the other day, shorthanded goals are some of my favourite things in hockey and to see Hagelin score one was wonderful. It was also nice to see the guys try to reward his effort by setting him up for an attempt at the empty net time and time again but it didn't work out. Still, a steller effort from the Swedish Chef.

*Brian Boyle really has been bad of late and has not shown any signs of getting better. The third line center has one goal in his last 27 games and just two this season.

*Dubi has been snakebitten as well but he has been improving the last two games. This game against the Devils may have been his best so far this season, even if he didn't get a single shot on goal.

*Do you think Sean Avery would have been able to wake up the Rangers earlier in the evening? I'd like to think so. He certainly would have been better than Rupp was all night long (all night). That being said, there is no way he would have taken the opening faceoff bullet for Prust the way Rupp did ...

*PHW Three Stars
3-Carl Hagelin - one goal.
2-Artem Anisimov - one goal and one assist.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 30 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Derek Stepan - What a set up to Arty, wow. His second assist on Gabby's go-ahead goal was ridiculous as the Slovak did a give-and-go with Arty but hey, if Del Zaster can inflate his numbers with them so can Step.
2-Gabby - The Slovak absorbed one helluva hit on the play that led to Arty's game-tying goal and went on to pot a pair of his own. Usually little credit would be given for an empty netter but after the Keystone Kops routine that led up to it, we'll take it.
1-Hank - The King kept the Rangers in the game despite some serious scrambling in front of him.


Avery's Purse said...

It took awhile, but at least you worked Avery into the recap.

Well done sir!

Steve N. said...

24/7 has some really solid material, don't they... No mention of Gabby being 1 goal off the NHL lead? That's significant, no?

Really enjoyed watching that game AND Cablevision finally provided Verizon FiOS with the MSG HD feeds to boot!

Schnee said...

You do realize Del Zotto is a plus 17 right? He's the teams number 3 Dman now and he's really showing that last year was a sophomore slump. He is so much stronger on his skates and in the corners. You do realize he's still just a kid playing the hardest position in the sport other than tender. Dunno why you have such a hard on for him.

Anonymous said...

What in the world is going on in the crowd behind Fatso?

Brother P said...

Rupp on the power play? did I really see that last night? Torts is losing his god damn mind. Henrik was amazing, Gaborik is playing unreal. Stephan is really starting to show he's a future star in this league. let's go Rangers

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Schnee. I'm not the biggest Del Zotto supporter but he is only a kid. With Staal and Sauer out he has been playing some big minutes for us. Sure he makes mistakes and some of those passes he makes are horrible but you make it seem like he does these things all game. He's not great but he def deserves to be playing. Give the kid some credit. Same with Anisimov, u always put him down too. BTW one of those pucks he couldn't keep in the zone was because the pass Rupp gave him was atrocious. He plays the hardest position in the sport, give him a break

Dave W said...

I think part of the problem is MDZ was so bad last season that he almost needs a Leetchian effort most nights to really turn the tide of opinion for Scotty.

In regards to Devils fans... holy shit. Scotty is being nice about them. I went to the Dallas game on Friday (free ticket from a friend) and got to experience it first hand. I didn't wear my Avery jersey as I liked not being bothered by the cast of Clerks x 4,000.

I wasn't able to watch the game (sadly) but did the Devils fan have the balls to ape the Hen-rik chant for Adam Henrique? Did I really hear the potvin whistle end with Rangers suck? Did the goal chant really have the crowd saying 'suck' every other word? What doesn't suck at the Rock?

Scotty Hockey said...

Dave - yes to all of the above.

When Del Zaster does something good I give him credit for it. I just rarely see the kid do anything good. You guys see some bloody all star out there that I just don't see. Sorry.

As for Arty, I have always said he could be a great player but he needed confidence. He has shown some of that from time to time this season and I have applauded him for it.

I don't give anyone a break, who the hell are you kidding?

Pete said...

Marek Malik ALSO lead the team in plus/minus one year...that says it all about how asinine the stat is.

BTW, thank you Scotty for the link to Lionel Richie. I had forgotten that the 80's were so...neon.

Anonymous said...

funny thing is that before this season, Scotty ripped Del Zotto on a constant basis for his plus minus. Now that he is leading the league in plus minus, it's a meaningless stat, that's funny

Pete said...

That kind of highlights just how ridiculous the stat is. The guy had a -20 season his first year with 80 games under his belt. In just 47 games last year, he had a much more respectable -5, yet his own coach thought it would be more appropriate to have him sit it out in the bus league, because his ACTUAL performance did not match up with the improvement shown in the +/- stat.

Statistically, +/- not withstanding, MDZ is on track for 10 goals and 32.5 assists this season. His rookie season showed 9 goals and 28 assists. Not marked progress whatsoever.

So really what we have is a defenseman that we overlook his blatant defensive mistakes because we want him to be an offensive powerhouse, yet is only on track to perform as well as his rookie season; A year he was ranked 31st in all defensemen and 1st on the Rangers (based on points), which was pretty good for a rookie, but kinda lackluster for a 3rd year player.

At best he's an above average offensive defenseman. He's not the next Dustin Byfuglien or Chris Pronger and certainly not a Brian Leetch. Frankly, if we ever get Staal back, I say the team should consider him perfect for trade stock.

Anonymous said...

Michael Del Zotto was born in 1990.

Pete said...

...a stat that is almost as useless as +/- ?

Anonymous said...

Chris Pronger was horrendous when he was 21, and the whole city of St Louis wanted to run Mike Keenan out of town for trading Brendan Shanahan for him. Just a lil hockey history for you.

Pete said...

Actually, statistically, MDZ is having a similar career to Pronger. But, do you think that's the way he's going to turn out? I just don't see it working out that way. I guess we'll see.

Anonymous said...

Pete, I don't think you have much of a clue about how long it takes defensemen to develop in the NHL. Del Zotto is already showing signs of be a very good defenseman and he is about 7 years away from even entering his prime. You are the kind of fan who if they traded him away and he became great would botch and moan on every blog you can find that they gave up on him.

Pete said...

Jimbo, I didn't realize you had a degree in NHL player development. Since we're making assumptions about each other, I'm going to assume that you're one of "those" fans who think they know everything there is about hockey, and compensate for other shortcomings in their life by trolling boards and insisting upon yourself as the only valid opinion.

I am simply stating my case for why there's no reason to cream over this kid like people seem to be doing. He has done NOTHING to separate himself from any of his peers except excel is a single MEANINGLESS stat. He isn't even on track to beat his OWN personal best. So, I think it's a good idea for everyone to put away the hyperbole until, maybe, the kid does something of merit.

You think he's a diamond in the rough, I think he's a turd in the punch bowl. Those are opinions. And you know what, neither of our opinions matter for anything, anyway. We're just talking here. So let's not make it any more personal than it has to be, ok?