Tuesday, December 27, 2011

22-8-4: Two Points

Monday night's match between the Rangers and the Islanders was largely lifeless and dull. The Blueshirts were outworked most of the night, pinned in their endzone time and time again and terrible with the man advantage. It was not pretty. But it was two points.

The Rangers managed to get just two pucks past Evgeni Nabokov, a guy who left all of his ability in San Jose. They barely challenged him, putting shot after shot after shot into the round logo on his chest. They didn't just play down to the level of their opponents, they played below it. It was not pretty. But it was two points.

Late Hits:

*Henrik Lundqvist made his case for the Vezina and Hart trophies in this one. Hank was left utterly alone as the inept, exhausted players in front of him were steps slow covering the more-active Islanders. Torts inexplicably kept matching the Boyle line to the Tavares unit even though they couldn't keep up and were left standing around their own end. And yet the King came through with a shutout. All hail.

*Wouldn't be shocked to find out that Prust had re-injured his shoulder in that fight against Krys Barch a few weeks back. He has not been the same player he used to be, definitely not the guy who scored five shorties last season. It is hard to take his grit and determination out of the lineup but perhaps he needs a real break to fix his wing.

*No one kills Ranger power plays like the Rangers.

*Anton Stralman is +10 in his last six games, so clearly he is deserving of massive accolades. After all, everyone is heaping praise over that one-way Del Zaster of a defenseman who plays alongside him. DZ is just atrocious in his own end - I mean, at least he isn't passing directly to the opposition anymore but he continues to get beaten in footraces and board battles.

*That being said, as my buddy Eric pointed out, the Rangers were beaten in board battles all night long (all night).

*I do give Del Zaster credit where it is due and it is certainly due for his feed to Hagelin for the second Ranger goal. It was a fantastic give-and-go with Callahan that left the Swede open in the slot for the one-timer. A truly beautiful play. His schoolyard toe-drag earlier was ridiculous but the puck ended up in the net thanks to Cally, who crashed the net to get the rebound off of Nabby's chest.

*Disappointing crowd at the Garden. Multiple times over the night you could hear the players yelling from the upper reaches of the 300s. For a packed house, it was pretty dead in there ... at least until the fan fight down in 113. That Garden roared for that but, from my vantage point, it looked like a bout between Ranger fans - utterly unacceptable when there were so many idiots in orange around.

*The crowd did manage a pair of chants for Sean Avery though. After such a torpid display by the Blueshirts, we were begging for the sparkplug player - even up 2-0.

*Instead of Avery we had Mike Rupp lumbering around like Frankenstein's monster for eight minutes (more than Avery got in 10 of his 15 starts). Seeing Rupp too tired to move in the Ranger end during one Islander push was just pathetic. And he was a real deterrent out there, he really stopped Michael Haley from giving Bickel a black eye.

*Haley is one of the one-dimensional goons who has no place in the NHL. The neanderthal jumped Stu Bickel two minutes into the game, pounding the Ranger defenseman. The only possible cause I can imagine would be the Wallace incident where Bickel beat on him before he could get his visor off - but if that was the case, why didn't Wallace take care of business himself? It is not like he is some kind of skill player who is better served being on the ice than in the box. He is a coward, just like Haley. Guys like Haley just keep giving ammunition to the pacifists and we all will wake up one day with a fighting and checking-free NHL. Terrible. Four seconds of ice time, 17 minutes in penalties.

*I said 'checking-free' because these players are intentionally positioning themselves where if they get hit, there will be a penalty. Frans Neilsen did it several times, once with Ryan Callahan all over him. Neilsen faced the boards and kept his numbers straight back so the second there would be any contact, he could have drawn a boarding call. It is as much a disgrace to this game as Haley's animal antics.

*If that was the quality of the ice after one NBA game, we will be completely screwed for the rest of the season. The puck took several bad hops and there were guys tripping all over the place - although Nabby taking a tumble was chuckle-worthy.

*Hmm, rewatching the game right now and Sam just pointed out that McDonagh hasn't played a full season worth of games yet - a stat I pointed out the other day. That combined with his usage of my Prust stat leads me to believe that someone is ripping me off without giving credit ...

*PHW Three Stars
3-Michael Del Zotto - two assists.
2-Carl Hagelin - two goals.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 28 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Bork Bork Bork - Hagelin was in the right place at the right time to collect two more goals. Definitely had high hopes when he got called up and he has even surpassed those expectations.
2-Cally - The captain saw just 13 minutes of ice time (interestingly none on the PK) but he made them count. Callahan came to Girardi's aid after the defenseman was jumped when Tavares took that dive, and he collected assists on both Hagelin goals.
1-Hank - The King protected the Kingdom yet again. With the injuries to Staal and Sauer, there truly isn't another player in the entire league who has been more valuable to his team.


Anonymous said...

3 mentions of Avery, not one mention that the Rangers took over first place in the conference. You are very lucky there are people who read your garbage there Scotty.

Anonymous said...

You clearly haven't watched the Rangers this year because Del Zotto has had a complete turn around from last year and there is a reason that he is playing 22 minutes a game. Trying watching the games before you say that Del Zotto isn't good in his own end because he has been great this year with the absence of Staal

Scotty Hockey said...

I love you guys. As I tweeted, first place in the conference in December is utterly meaningless. I want first place in June.

And I knew I forgot something. I should have watched the games! Whoops.

Anonymous said...

so, basically just stay extremely negative all year round because you don't wanna be accused of "drinking the kool-aid"

Anonymous said...

best part about all this is that Scotty has to root for the team he supposedly loves so much to fail so he can write blogs saying "SEE SEE, I TOLD YOU SO". rooting for own team to fail so your meaningless blog has credibility is very silly.

Scotty Hockey said...

Jimbo, I don't root for the team to fail, are you insane? I want this team to win the Cup. Nothing less. I'm sorry if I don't enjoy the ride, what can I say? Been disappointed far far too many times to get excited over some first half success. This franchise is a terrible tease, as someone who has been a fan for more than five minutes knows. Ride the bandwagon, enjoy it! Just don't expect me to get on, too much pain falling off.

As for credibility, this is a fan blog - my opinion as a fanatic. Nothing more. So relax.

And to all: I deleted an anonymous personal attack ... critique the material, offer your opinions and have a conversation. But outright flaming will not be tolerated. People are real tough when hiding behind anonymity on the internet, likely because they are so pathetic in reality they need to feel big somewhere.

Duniyadnd said...

@ScottyHockey - Figured this belongs here - though I should post it after every post you do put up. I may not agree with everything you say, but I do appreciate the work you put in your blog after every game (I do miss your Peepin Foes though - was my favorite part). This was one of the few reasons I got back into hockey as well.

@Jimbo - I don't think Scotty Hockey is going out of his way to downplay NYR. They were lacking the punch/spark they need, but they did get the two points. I watched parts of the game on TV, and forgot it was on at times, because the crowd was listless. I used to think that this blog was really negative in general, dissing players like Gomez, Zherdev (even after his awesome first half of a season) and Drury when they had a few off games, but in the end, I ended up being more wrong than right and I'll respect Scotty's view because he has a perspective which I don't, and it's good to be aware of it.

Also, we can't have Callahan/Richards playing the minutes they are playing night in and night out, and Prust playing while he's clearly injured. They're going to get burned out by the time the play-offs come.

Brother P said...

I disagree with your take on the game. The Boyle, Dubi, Mitchell, line spent a lot of time in the isles zone in the 3rd period. they weren't getting any shots on net but time was running off the clock and when you are winning 2-0 that's good work. And what exactly did the Taveres line do against them? pretty sure nothing since the King recorded a shutout.

Anonymous said...

A shutout win, yet we get another negative blog entry, several mentions of Avery, and a bizarre critique of Michael Del Zotto, despite going +3 on the night with 2 assists, and a highlight reel play.

It's a little strange to me that Scotty is obsessed with the 2 best looking guys on the Rangers team, in Sean Avery and MDZ. Multiple mentions of them in every blog. Love for Avery, hatred for Del Zotto.

Like I said after last game, bash Del Zotto all you want last season, but this season, he's a friggin' ace! The guy looks better and better every game. He's hitting, he's passing, he's keeping the puck in the zone, and the dude is +25! He's 3rd in the NHL right now, +1 off being the best Plus/Minus guy in the entire league! Yet DZ gets no love from Scotty Hockey. It's really bizarre at this point.

With that said, I do enjoy reading these blog entries, Scotty. I mention these things in good fun, and all Rangers fans are my bros. If you have a crush on MDZ, I respect your lifestyle decision 100%!

jb said...

Tough crowd Scotty, you should charge a 2 drink minimum to keep the riff-raff out.

Completely agree on your take of Rupp. Why a lumbering Neanderthal instead of our speedy metro-sexual?

Take away Lundqvist and Biron and this team is border-line playoff material. So, no need to get too puffed up about their ability.

Keep it coming, Scotty. This is always my first stop.

rons17 said...

You are morphing into a cranky old man, I think you missed a pretty good game, the fans were into it, pretty high level througout the game. Contrast this with the Dallas game where there was no energy in the building. The rangers are finally using the kids- yet you crank about their growing pains. You should enjoy more and criticize less, life is short. Rons17

Scotty Hockey said...

Sean Avery and Del Zaster are good looking? I can definitely see how Hank is considered hunky but neither of them...

Brother P - you answered your own point - the King recorded the shutout. How many times was that united pinned in their own end? Two, three?

Ron - The sections around my seat - aside from one guy who started a few building-wide chants - were dead quiet. Not even people chatting about the game or what was going on.

And I've been told I was an angry young man for many years, eventually I would turn into cranky old man ...

Squarp said...

at jb

If you take away any teams top 2 goalies im sure they wouldn't be as good as they would be with them, but nice try though, you must have really thought you were on to something there!

jb said...


Thank you for your value added to the conversation.

Let me parse things a little more precisely for the slow ones. Last year the Rangers had a 2.38 goals against average over 82 games. That was 5th best in the league. This year the Rangers GAA is 2.03, an even better 2nd best in the league. The league average GAA in 2010-11 was, 2.74. This season the league average currently is about the same at 2.73 goals/game. So if the Rangers goalies simply regressed to the league average they would be allowing in about .7 more goals per game. Therefore if the Rangers merely had average goal tending over their first 34 games it means that they would have allowed in 24 more goals. That means more losses, lower points, lower in the standings, and probably the typical year end struggle to make the playoffs.

Biron and Lundqvist are having great years no doubt. But, also consider that they have been playing without arguably their best defender, Marc Staal. They've had subs from Hartford in front of them. So that makes their performance even more remarkable. The bottomline is that the exceptionally good goal tending is putting a lot of lipstick on how this team looks. I certainly hope they keep it up, but you have to be realistic. Don't breath the fumes.

Cbenny81ct said...

it was a good win...it was a shut out....in first place..enough said.. For some reason Scotty is negative... a lot of people are now a days...the fact that Sauer, Staal, and now even Eminger is out is amazing how they are molding in to a core..you could say Hartford could go for it all if Erickson and Bickell Get sent back you never know...we have an awesome farm system

Jeff L. said...

Looks like I'm not the only Ranger fan who finds fault in those who look to find fault in every game.

Look, Scotty, your work is appreciated--if not always in line with my thinking--as is your blog in general, but at a certain point I have to wonder if your criticisms are constructive or simply naive.

We already have a resident Ranger fan who deconstructs the games in a cerebral manner and points out the miscues and flaws on both a team and an individual basis. When Rodent berates a player, he does so with evidence in hand, and he uses screen caps to make his point--almost always spot-on.

On the other hand, you seem to just want to build up or tear down certain players, night-in and night-out. We get it that you don't like MDZ, that you're man-love for Avery is matched only by the most bitter of Tortorella haters. Now where's the evidence? Tell us, show us, how/where/when "Del Zaster" was "atrocious" in his own end. Be specific, otherwise your words are meaningless and you seem like you just like to stoke the fire of unease in the hearts of Rangers fans.

Also, the "first place in the conference in December is utterly meaningless" line is simply inaccurate. I'll assume you know what probability is and will point to the following page which shows very clearly that being in the position in December does, in fact, mean something:

Before looking at the numbers, ask yourself if being in last place in December is as "meaningless" as being in first place in December. If the answer is yes, then I refer you to the aforementioned page.

The current occupants of 15th in the East (NYI) have an absolute ceiling of 98 points if they finish the season 48-0-0, and have a 3.7% chance of making the playoffs; 0.0% chance at the Division, Top Seed, 0.2% chance of winning the Conference (POs), and 0.0% chance of winning the Cup. The projected points for the team is ~77pts on the season.

By contrast, the conference-leading Rangers have a ceiling of 125 points, a 99.2% chance for playoffs, a 53.8% chance to win the Atlantic, a 25.8% chance at the 1st seed, 17.7% chance of going to the finals, and an 8.5% chance of winning the whole thing. Projected points are ~105.

Finally, let's look at a team right in the middle, the Devils. Ceiling is 110 points, 47.8% POs, 1.2% chance Division, 0.2% 1st seed, 3.3% conference, and a 1.4% chance of winning the whole thing. Projected points are ~89.

So mathematically, because of the Rangers racking up 48 points in 34 games, only Boston has better numbers out of the East, and only Vancouver and Detroit have better numbers in the West. And while probability isn't a science, and projected points are just that--projected--being where they are at present gives them great chances in every sense, and in fact are the odds-on favorite to win the Atlantic.

The Rangers could finish the season at NHL .500 (20-20-8) and they'd still end up in the playoffs with 96 points. So yes, being the Conference leaders in December means a whole lot more than you seem to think. Torts has to say what you did because he's the coach and has to avoid complacency, lest his team follow. The reality is quite different, however, and you may want to look at things like this before statements that don't pass the smell test.

Again, I very much appreciate the work you do with your blog, and you obviously love the Rangers. That said, I fear the cynicism that IS the typical NYR fan mentality (and for good reason) has invaded your mind and dictates your posts.

Why not sit back and enjoy the ride? We all know--as Rangers fans, most of us for decades--there aren't many seasons like that which our boys are having, especially not for the Rangers.

Pete said...

By those numbers, the only positive thing I see is that the Rangers have an almost guarantee to make it to the playoffs. Half the league makes it to the playoffs. The freaking Devils apparently have half a chance at making it to the playoffs. Have you seen them play this year?

The thing that stats and numbers don't show is the intangibles, the ACTUAL performance. I think Scotty's assessment of the team is pretty much spot on, and their performance vs the Capitals last night shows it. I wonder what the "odds" were that Washington would beat the Rangers last night? They overcame those odds, because the Rangers had a mental breakdown AND because their power play is still pretty damn bad. Stats can't account for that.