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Archive for April, 2008

Folks, the Rangers were still in this one until the start of the third period. They looked dead right from the start of the third. They couldn’t get the puck deep and when they actually kept the puck in the Penguins’ zone, they couldn’t get shots through to the net.

Then there’s the Power Play. The Rangers went 0 for 6 with 9 shots. So that’s a shot and a half per PP. The Penguins went 1 for 5 with 15 shots (almost half of their total). That’s 3 per.

The Penguins’ Power Play is just S-C-A-R-Y. It’s so much different than the Rangers’ PP. They just keep feeding the puck to the point for the quick, low slapshot and wait for the rebounds. Why can’t the Rangers do this? The second line (Gomez-Drury-Shanny) seems to be trying but just can’t get it done. Jagr’s line is just wasting time looking for the perfect shot. It’s just terrible. GO TO THE FRONT OF THE NET! STOP CUTTING BEHIND THE NET! YOU’RE NOT GONNA SCORE A GOAL FROM BEHIND THE NET!

Anyone notice who wasn’t on the ice when the Penguins scored their only Power Play goal? It was the guy in the box who was off for a questionable call that could have gone to either player. Chris Drury.

Chris Drury is the best penalty killer on the Rangers right now. How many times do you see him breaking up the other team’s power play and clearing the puck? Lots of times, that’s how many.

I’m kind of pissed off right now. If Marc has any thoughts he’ll add them later.

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Here are some choice notes from the first period:

  • Penguins are flying out of the gate getting the first 8 shots
  • Rangers balance it out with a PP
  • Drury-Betts-Callahan best line half way through
  • Gomez centering Sjostrom and Prucha for a shift
  • Drury is still the man; great on the 4-on-3 Penalty Kill
  • Jagr tells Crosby to stand up and stop falling down after Tyutin threw him down
  • NBC has replayed Tyutin’s interference penalty on Crosby about 5 times since it happened about 10 minutes ago. No one was arguing it.  But 3 of the 4 commentators seem to think someone is.  Surprisingly, Millbury is the only one not getting involved.
  • Lots of former Rangers and Penguins playing in this series
    • On the Rangers now:
      • Jaromir Jagr
      • Martin Straka
      • Michal Rozsival
    • On the Penguins now:
      • Petr Sykora
      • Adam Hall
      • Pascal Dupuis
  • Avery gets away with a slash on the hand of Crosby.
  • All of the Penalties that have been called so far have been the right call.
  • As expected, Penguins fans have been taunting Jagr throughout the game.

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I mentioned it yesterday, and now it has been confirmed. Petr Prucha will see his first game action of the playoffs this season. Here’s what Coach Tom Renney had to say:

“Petr is really, really hungry. . . . I see it in his eyes and he has had some success against Pittsburgh. I liked his game against them. He’s done a good job. He’s worked hard. He’s got a good touch. I like the second and third effort in his game and because usually beyond that, there’s a result with good consequence. . . . It gives us a little more quickness, a little more speed.”

Prucha will take Colton Orr’s place in the lineup.

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This might get your blood boiling. I came across this article written by an annoying Pittsburgh sportswriter.

My favorite line:

“Coach Tom Renney implied through a protracted silence that he was disgusted with the call.”

What are you, friggin clairvoyant? Send Joe an email to remind him of his lack of journalistic talent.

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Petr Prucha skated today in practice on the 4th line with Blair Betts and Fredrik Sjostrom. Renney didn’t say definitively whether Prucha was in, but it seems to be the way he is leaning. I am very much in favor of this move. That line will be fast on the ice, and with 3 solid back-checkers it should provide the Rangers with a few shifts per period to counter Crosby’s line or Malkin’s line (and give Gomez and Drury an extra breather).

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I’m not sure why Michel Therrien is so ticked off, especially after a game in which the referees did not hesitate to blow the whistle when Crosby hit the ice, but he had some interesting comments for the Rangers today.

“And where I’m kind of disappointed is that there’s gamesmanship before the series about Sidney drawing penalties. And I’m disappointed. I’m kind of disappointed about that.”

“And we all know what Tom Renney’s trying to do. He tried to do it before we started the series. He tried to do it last night, I saw his comments today. He’s trying to get attention to the referees and complaining about the penalty last night at the end of the game.”

“[Sidney’s] not going to go to the outside. That’s the way he is. He’s not going to take the easy road. He’s going to take the tough road and try to succeed. And yesterday, on that play, he had a step on [Straka] and if he didn’t get hooked, we’re probably going to go on a breakaway. And he drew a penalty.”

I’m pretty confused about that last part. I’m not sure what Therrien was watching if he thought Sid was going to end up on a breakaway on that play. Gomez made a great recovery to dive and sweep the puck away from Hossa, and the penalty was called well behind the play. If no penalty was called, the play would have continued with the Rangers in possession of the puck.

As for Therrien’s claim that Renney is trying to draw the refs attention, well, I have to wonder what Therrien is reading. Renney has been pretty quiet on the subject and today he refused to respond to what Therrien said.

Brendan Shanahan, however, did respond. “I haven’t read the papers today but I feel like the only thing our team did last night was defend Martin Straka. . . We certainly didn’t come into the room and throw down our equipment and say we got hosed by the refs. So I’m kind of surprised that Therrien’s making a big issue today. I’m actually really surprised. But if he wants to bring the referee’s attention to it, that’s fine.”

I’m not a psychologist, but do you think Therrien might be feeling a little guilty?

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Watching that game, I felt like I had just been punched in the gut. Recapping it feels like something not as bad as passing a kidney stone but not as good as slipping on an icy sidewalk and cracking your head. I also have a massive hangover, so I’ll try to keep this short.

It would be easy to blame the referees for some of the Rangers problems, but let’s be honest, the Rangers defense looked terrible. The Penguins were faster and caused about 10,000 turnovers in the defensive and neutral zones. The Rangers need to be more confident with the puck and, as my Canadian college hockey coach would say, they also need to stop treating the puck like a “hot potato.” There were stretches where 3 or 4 shifts went by with the puck spending 90% of the time in the Rangers zone. The other 10% consisted of the Rangers softly dumping the puck to be picked up by the Pens defense in the neutral zone and rushed back towards the overwhelmed Rangers defense and the suddenly vulnerable Lundqvist… not exactly a winning strategy.

Still, the Rangers managed to build a 3 goal lead… only to see it disappear in about the time it takes my buddy Spivack to pound an Irish car bomb. But I digress.

And you know what, while I’m on a roll, I think I will complain about the officiating. My problem is that it was inconsistent, and it has been throughout the playoffs (not just in Rangers games). Sometimes it looks like a classic playoff hockey game, with the refs swallowing the whistle to allow 2 elite teams to really play some hard-nosed hockey. But, at other times, the refs suddenly decide to call the game like its a November matchup between Tampa Bay and Atlanta. It’s completely inexplicable and there’s no way to know when they make this transition. It’s almost like the refs slip into their usual playoff mode for a chunk of the game until they realize, “oh crap… If I want to keep my job, I better start calling penalties.” The result is the weak penalty called on Martin Straka at a crucial point of the game. 3 minutes left in a tie game and you call that? Really?!? The same thing happened in Montreal on Thursday. No penalties for a while, then they call a questionable one and change the outcome of the game. Why is it so difficult for the NHL to let these guys play 5-on-5? [I’ll be right back. I have to go slam my head against the wall for 10 minutes]

[Okay, I’m back]. Here’s what Brendan Shanahan said. “I think it’s a weak call at that time in the game. Sidney embellished and you could make the call that he was interfering with Martin Straka. . . I think it was a tough call for the referee to make at that time in the game.” Ding ding ding.

Oh, and one more thing… Jarkko Ruutu is a [expletive deleted]. Now I know how other teams feel about Sean Avery. There’s no doubt that Ruutu waving his stick in Rozsival’s face during a faceoff should have been an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Maybe I’m missing something, but didn’t they just make a rule about that? The ref went over and actually pushed Ruutu’s stick down but didn’t call a penalty! What’s up with that? Then he scored. I have to go slam my head against the wall again. See you tomorrow.

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