Thursday, January 24, 2013

1-2-0: Slovak Success

For many of the True Blue faithful, the first real time they noticed Marian Gaborik was when he collected six points - five goals - against the Rangers in 2007. At the time this space grudgingly gave some credit to him, while largely blaming Blueshirt breakdowns for the five. Time heals and provides perspective, and now it is easy to admit that it was a masterful performance by Gabby.

Last night we saw another.

The Slovak showed a sublime scoring touch and potted a hat trick against a good Boston squad, giving the Rangers a 4-3 overtime win over the Bruins. Timing, speed, hands ... just amazing. Performances like last night certainly make things more infuriating when he isn't performing, when he is half-heartedly lazing around like he did for stretches of recent seasons past. This shortened campaign will hopefully keep him involved and bring about more performances like last night.

Late Hits:

*"That's what yer paid for Braden!" 1: The top line guys played like top line guys (at regular strength). Richards' touch pass to Nash on Gabby's first goal was simply amazing. While he needs to work on his faceoffs (not the only one on this team, another in a moment), Richie showed the instincts that earned his paycheque. Only troubling note for the top trio was Nash's showboating. Dipsy doodling may delight the crowd, but, unlike in Columbus, our team is expected to win and that takes priority over some half-assed hot doggery.

*Now if they could only do it on the power play. That third period five-on-three atrocity is inexcusable.  They could have put the game away, and instead allowed the seconds to slip by with nary a chance. Horrifying.

*That was one of the few offensive opportunities in the third period, as Torts kept his team from trying to add to their 3-2 advantage. They tightened up, and Boston took control. Yeah, "safe is death" my derriere. The bench boss puts the fear of death in his players and they lose all faith in themselves, which ends up costing them time and time again. The Bruins should not have gotten a point out of this game; that is all on Torts.

*"That's what yer paid for Braden!" 2: Taylor Pyatt has been everything we wanted him to be: a big body that battles around the net. Delightful, utterly delightful to see him working down low. While he is unlikely to keep this scoring touch going at this rate, as long as he puts in the same effort night in and night out he will be just fine. Now Torts needs to put him with some decent linemates.

*Brian Boyle should not be one of them. If not for Mike Rupp, Boyle would be the worst player on the roster. He can't skate, he has hands of cement with the puck that turn into pillows when trying to punch. He's awkward and overpaid. Yes, he scored a buncha goals a few years back when goalies were fooled into thinking he didn't know how to shoot. They know better now, not that he has even been able to put himself in good spots to shoot ... just awful.

*Jeff Halpern has a pass, for the moment. He is exactly the kind of low-line guy hurt the most by the lockout. No matter how much he worked out, as a veteran grinder, it'll take a while to get his game together because rust did creep in. Faceoffs are an art form based upon instincts and timing, and that will come back with more action. Just, hopefully, not too much more.

*Wanted to give Kreider a pass for his poor play in Hartford because it surely was a disappointment to go to the AHL after doing so well last spring in the playoffs. That pass has been revoked. The kid came into the season uninterested and, now that things have gotten 'real', has shown himself woefully underprepared to play at the NHL level. A banishment back to the bus league is in order, where he needs to be treated like the rookie he is.

*Del Zaster giveth and Del Zaster taketh away. His long pass to Richie on the aforementioned first Gabby goal was perfect. He got the helper on the second Gabby goal after finally getting a shot off after two fumbles, a nice turn of luck. And then he showed he is still utterly inept in his own end on the Lucic goal, standing around lost as the Bruins swarmed the Ranger end. He still hasn't learned. Ugh.

*Bad luck for Bork! on the Horton goal, having the puck go off his stick right to the Bruin. The young Swede's effort is unquestioned but he is far from the Swagelin' that was called up alongside John Mitchell last season. He and Stepan need to find that confidence that they once had and turn all this effort into some success.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Brad Richards - one assist.
2-Rick Nash - one assist.
1-Marian Gaborik - three goals.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Lucic - Almost put Bergeron in this spot because of his puck skills but Lucic was a handful for the Rangers to handle all night long. Same could be said for Marchand too.
2-Richards - Finally showed the skills that helped Loui Eriksson turn from a middling, uncertain Swede into a stellar sniper.
1-Gabby - One problem with my relocation to the roof is that I couldn't reach the ice with my hat. But a hearty hat tip to him for the tremendous trick. 

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