Friday, March 22, 2013

15-13-2: The Rollercoaster Continues

The up-and-down, back-and-forth Ranger season continued on Thursday night with another low, a 3-1 loss to the injury-ravaged, NHL-worst Florida Panthers.

A normal reaction would be outrage, outrage for the lack of effort and emotion. But, frankly, I don't feel that. I'm numb. There have been far too many occasions over the last few seasons where the team followed solid victories with inexcusable failures. Consistency is simply not a characteristic of the John Tortorella Rangers.

And that is to be expected. Torts is the jockey to this horse of a team - a jockey who relies on the whip to get a response. He starts raining down blows at the start of the race and rarely relents. A few good wins changes his spirits and he lowers his crop, only to see the stallion slow. So he begins the abuse all over again.

The Rangers didn't reach the finish of last season's race because Torts' continual castigation wore them down a few furlongs from the line. This current race is more of a sprint due to the lockout but the beast beneath Torts is simply not as strong, and it isn't responding to the lash nearly as well as the last.

Late Hits:

*Brandon Prust was around last season, and when he fought early his teammates followed with an effort. Well, he's long gone now and the Rangers don't bother showing up for the first 10, 15, 20 minutes on most nights.

*Happy birthday Cally. Sorry your teammates gave you such a terrible present.

*Rick Nash has to be suspended. Has to. There is no place for gutless, blindside, leaping elbows in this sport anymore. I love a bit of the old ultra violence, but at least look the guy in the eye as you attack him.

*But, alas, the stellar NHL officiating didn't even bother to penalize Nash, and he set up Gabby's goal just a few minutes later. Amazing how that worked out.

*Nice of Gabby to score, reminding us of what he is capable of. Just hope that it isn't another eight games before he strikes again.

*That was the Slovakian Sniper's ninth goal of the year. Just one of them came on the power play. Martin Brodeur has one power play goal too. He's a goalie.

*Brodeur's touch tonight allowed him to match Brian Boyle's goal total for this season. He is awful, and should have been the one sent to Hartford instead of Micheal Haley. Yep, he is so bad that I'm advocating the Rangers keep an ex-Islander on the roster. Haley, at least, makes the most of his size and he's willing to risk his body to make a play.

*Speaking of ex-Islanders, Marty Biron should have started this game. Hank was concussed on that elbow from Girardi on Tuesday and yet Torts put him right back in net, against an opponent that (on paper) deserved a backup. One thing I learned from the incessant head shot talk is that any bruise to the brain counts as a concussion and Hank having a headache for an hour after the hit proved he was black and blue.

*Despite being at risk for another, worse head injury Hank had himself a good game. He was a big more jumpy than usual but he still made a half dozen stellar saves - six more than Markstrom had to.

*I'm so demanding. I begged the Blueshirts to 'Hit. The Net.' Now I want them to Stop. Shooting. At. The. Logo. Far too many shots were right at the leaping cat on Markstrom's sweater.

*0-3 on the power play. What a surprise.

*The fourth line played three minutes and Halpern nearly scored. But keep on putting Brad Richard$ out there, maybe he will work himself into shape one of these days. Said it before, as an older guy Richie shoulda played somewhere, anywhere during the lockout. He still has not regained that step.

*Only time I noticed Chris Kreider was when he was being punched in the back of the head.

*Happy trails to Alex Kovalev, one of the first high-profile enigmatic Europeans in the NHL. Kovy was incredible at times when he wore a Blueshirt, and was infuriating at others. But Mark Messier wouldn't let him give anything less than his best and he helped bring us the Cup in '94.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Scottie Upshall - one goal.
2-Brian Campbell - one goal.
1-Jacob Markstrom - 44 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Hank - This easily could have been a 5-0 loss if not for the King.
2-Markstrom - The Swede certainly knows how to get square to the shots and swallows rebounds off his chest quite well.
1-Cally - It was his birthday, he deserves the top star!

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