Wednesday, January 11, 2012

27-9-4: The King Carries On

The Rangers edged out the Coyotes on Tuesday night in the Garden, winning 2-1 in a shootout. It was remarkable: despite facing a talent-lacking team like the Desert Dogs, the Blueshirts needed to receive heroics from the King time and time again to escape utter embarrassment.

And to escape with two points? A minor miracle. The Rangers are the top team in the NHL but they are far from the best. As mentioned, the King was often relied upon to save the castle as his serfs scrambled to keep up with their less-skilled but harder-working opponents. Hank made 18 saves in regulation and three more in the shootout and most-every one was impressive. How he hasn't entered some Hart Trophy conversations is inexcusable. There has been no single player more valuable to his team in the NHL to date.

Phoenix is in the lower half of the Western Conference and likely would be in the basement if not for the stellar coaching of Dave Tippett. As Mr. X From The Blue Seats observed, the former Hartford Whaler has his team playing like he did - talent-free but forever hustling and intelligent. They grind the way he did and they are defensively responsible the way he was.

The Coyotes choked the life out of the Rangers but the Rangers still won the game. That has been the truth of this season so far: no matter how bad they are for long stretches, no matter how many mistakes they make and no matter how often they've had to rely on majestic netminding, the Rangers still managed to win the game. Remarkable.

Late Hits:

*What, no tribute video for Michal Rozsival?

*A couple of years ago this evening would have ended in regulation after Hank gave up a soft goal. Lundqvist and Benoit Allaire appear to have taken that largely out of the King's game and it is what is keeping the Rangers atop the table.

*The Rangers top two lines were all-but-invisible, negated by their hard-hatted opponents. Phoenix's defensive acumen kept the New York attack away from the many rebounds of Mike Smith and, in the process, making Smith look like Patrick Roy - quite the impressive feat. With Tampa two seasons ago he had a GAA over three and last season he had a save percentage below 90 but this season he actually looks like the player Tampa hoped they were getting when they traded away Brad Richard$.

*Was the penalty shot call in overtime the NHL's way of saying 'our bad' on the penalty shot in the Winter Classic? Gabby simply stopped playing the puck when he was 'hooked' by Adrian Aucoin (looked like a slash to me, if anything). Too bad the Slovakian Slacker took the easy way out after deking Smith on the ensuing penalty shot - had he not half-assed his wrister the game wouldn't have had to go to the shootout. At least he gained some redemption there, eh?

*Ranger fans, STOP THE POTVIN SUCKS WHISTLES!!! I mean, seriously, stop it. I know for many folks these are their first games at the Garden in years and they want to feel like they are still fans but doing the whistle and chant a dozen times in a game against the Phoenix-freaking-Coyotes is not only annoying but just plain stupid.

*Radim Vrbata has some sick hands. Wow. They were so impressive that four Rangers stopped to watch him shoot the game-tying goal.

*I would love to see Carl Hagelin race Oliver Ekman-Larsson. May have mentioned that before but, seriously, what an exhibition of speed that would be. Young Carl powered down the wing several times and OEL showed off his wheels in overtime. The defenseman took two maybe three strides and ended up ahead of all of his linemates (going offsides). They might even be faster than Mike Gartner. Gartner at 52 years old, not Gartner in his prime. No one can be that fast.

*Mike Rupp fighting Biz Nasty was totally pointless. Sam said it might have had some carry-over from the first matchup of the two teams but I don't recall any incidents in the 0.1 game needing resolution, other than the justification of Biz Nasty's presence in the NHL.

*Prust had one of his best games in weeks. The Rangers can definitely use his skill set with the schedule they have ahead.

*Stu Bickel was on for just one shift in the third period - the one the Rangers scored on. Not sure what was wrong with him or with his coach but it was interesting to see Staal back out on the ice with Girardi. Sadly he is still not yet the Staal of old but we're slowly getting there. A full return to form and a Sauer resurrection would really be something ...

*Multiple Del Zastrous moments in the first period but he blissfully became a non-factor the rest of the night.

*While Boyle was not directly screening Smith on the Feds goal, he had just crossed in front of the crease. Boyle may be snakebitten or he may just not be very good but he has to at least use that freakish size of his for something other than filling out his sweater.

*Really would have loved an all-access 24/7 to hear what Dubi was yelling at Langkow. I mean, Daymond Langkow. Really?

*Seemed like an awful lot of broken sticks for the Coyotes, right?

*Interesting: on the day where Torts says he may send Wolski and Christensen to the AHL to get some games in, John Mitchell blows his attempt in the shootout.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Mike Smith - 31 saves.
2-Derek Stepan - Shootout gwg.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 18 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Fedotenko - Even before he scored Feds was having a great game.
2-Vrbata - Did I mention he has sick hands? Because he does. Game-tying goal and an incredible shootout goal gets him a star.
1-Hank - Just give him the Hart now.


Cranford93 said...

Don't call yourself a Ranger fan, we don't want you, you are a clown with no real knowledge or appreciation of this team.

Pete said...

LOL...the trolls figured out that blogger accounts are free! Love it!

I think this has to be the Vezina year for Hank, if not the Hart. I've been cheesed off ever since they gave the Vez to Fatso in '07-'08 out of sympathy, though, I'm probably not as mad as Evgeni Nabokov should be.

Paul said...

Hey Scotty,
Did you see Mike Fu#@*ng Rupp's horrible drop pass at the offensive line that eventually led to the Vrbata goal? Horrible play.

Anonymous said...

the most negative "Ranger fan" in the history of blogging. There is glass half full people. There are glass is half empty people. You sir do not even have a glass.

Sammael said...

Can we just officially drop Christensen? He's useless. You don't have a player in the lineup just in case you can have him take one shot on net.

Brother P said...

"The Rangers are the top team in the NHL but they are far from the best"

I think the far from the best is over the top. What teams are better?

Anonymous said...

Scotty, isn't the idea of playing hockey games to WIN them? I'm pretty sure that's the concept of team sports, to win. The Rangers do just that, and do it better than anyone else in the NHL. A win is a win. You don't get an extra 2 points for a blowout, or for highlight reel goals.

This Rangers team is a bunch of grinders, who do exactly what it takes to win. That's the kind of team this is, Scotty. Deal with it.

Whoever we match up with in a playoff series is going to have their hands full. I'm not sure if it's possible to play with more heart, grit, and determination than this team plays with.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you can say Mike Smith didn't deserve a "scotty star" and still have a straight face. Laughable game write up as usual.

Anonymous said...

A win is a win and I will take the points so and Del Zaster is 5th in the league in Plus-Minus not a bad stat their clown

Michael Bérubé said...

I hate to disagree with the formidable Scotty Hockey, whom I ordinarily rely on for stringent assessments of my Blueshirts, but please -- the Rangers should have won this game 5- or 6-1. We outplayed the Howling Desert Dogs in every category-- we won the battles along the boards, we moved the puck crisply in their zone and clogged up their crease, and we stymied them in the neutral zone. We outshot them 30-16 in regulation, and we had about 20 good scoring chances to their ... three? We lapsed into a couple of giveaways; we forced the Coyotes into more than a dozen. And we neutralized their forecheck with savvy defensive-zone hustle and good breakouts. The only reason the Yotes were in the game after the first period was Mike Smith. So Scotty's account of this game-- in which everything depended on King Henrik, holding the fort in support of a realm of laggards -- is basically the mirror image of the game that was actually played.

Look, I get the "tough love" approach to fandom. I've been following these guys since 1969. But when the team is having its best season since 93-94 (wonder whatever happened to that bunch), it makes sense to try to figure out what they're collectively doing right. Just my $ .02.

Anonymous said...

I like how Scotty never responds to very eloquent criticisms like the one Mr. Berube has expressed here. Yet, he'll come on here with his boy Pete and cry over "trolls" all the time. That's interesting.

Scotty Hockey said...

Ah Jimbo, I haven't been back to the blog since laughing at Benny's (their clown!) so I didn't see Michael's response. But I have to ask you Jim, why do you go out of your way to be such a prat? You hate everything I write so why not spend your time doing something more productive? It is interesting that trolls like yourself are so ubiquitous and expect others to have no lives as well. If I had more time, I would be posting more but I do have other things that take priority.

Brother - At least five: Boston, Vancouver, Chicago, Detroit and a healthy Pittsburgh (which thankfully doesn't exist at the moment). So not exactly far but definitely not the best or close to it.

Michael - I respectfully disagree. Rangers lost most every battle in their own zone, every one of the Yotes few attacks went all the way to Hank, few of the Ranger attacks managed to get more than one shot off despite Smith giving up rebound after rebound. BTW - "a realm of laggards" ... I love it.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I am as much of a troll as I am warning you now, you continue to refer to the player as "Del Zaster" in your blogs, I am going to continue to be a nasty thorn in your blogging side. Don't say it anymore, and I'll leave you alone. Your choice.

Anonymous said...

JimCerny Jim Cerny

Torts says 3 #NYR All Stars "is a great reflection on the organization" and mentions that Michael Del Zotto should have been considered too

Scotty Hockey said...

Jimbo - You are quoting Jim Cerny, who is a paid member of the Rangers PR staff. Ok then.

And you aren't a thorn in my side - you are the one who looks like a jerk, popping up and bitching about everything while still taking the time to read my stuff and give me hits.

Anonymous said...

I was quoting Jim Cerny, who was quoting Coach John Tortorella. #RIF

I am going to get you to a point that you'll wanna throw up when MDZ does something well. Unless you stop saying Del Zaster. That's my rule.

Are you going to obey?

Scotty Hockey said...

Haha, I don't obey you. And when you start getting really annoying and not the least worthwhile, I will just delete everything you say.

I keep the comments open so people can contribute. If you are just being a pain in the ass for the sake of being a pain in the ass, there really is no point in keeping you around.

Paul said...

Scotty I think you have a stalker lol!

Demarketed said...

Jimbo said...

......There is glass half full people. There are glass is half empty people. You sir do not even have a glass.

this made me laugh. I know Scotty well and completely agree. An optimist see's the glass half full, a pessimist half empty and a realist knows it's just fucking water...or beer.

Cbenny81ct said...

awww you like my comment I feel so loved......

Cbenny81ct said...

I actually enjoy your blog site but don't feel like getting into a war with you...if Jimbo hates you so much why does he actually read your job site?