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Archive for the ‘Game Recaps’ Category

83370146JM010_CALGARY_FLAMEThe Rangers have just three regulation wins in 17 games since the start of November with two goals or fewer in 12 of those 17 games. They have been shutout twice on home ice in the last three games and have only scored 2.33 goals per game, second-to-last in the NHL, better than only Tampa Bay.  The Rangers have had the benefit of a fairly easy schedule through the early part of the season.  Now that they’re playing better teams, their true colors are showing. The stars are not playing up to their abilities and the young players have all plateaued.

Scott Gomez has 1 goal in his last 13 games.  Chris Drury has no goals in his last 8, Dubinsky has 1 in his last 20 and Ryan Callahan has 1 in his last 14

Last night’s game against the Flames was not the worst game this season but it was up there (down there?).  They actually played well through the first period and were sticking to the defense first mentality that has worked so well in years past.  They even held the Flames to just 2 shots in the second period.  Those two shots were the shot that led to the rebound which was Jarome Iginla’s goal.

Dear NHL, can you please make a rule change that allows teams to decline penalties?  Honestly, the Rangers’ power play is so bad that they would be better off just playing at even strength.  They had a better chance scoring short handed last night then they did up a man and they now lead the league in short handed goals against.

How is it that a team that has the best penalty kill in the entire league can be so dreadful on the power play?  It’s not like the players are that different.  Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, and Ryan Callahan all had time on both the power play and the penalty kill.  And it’s not like we play with four forwards on the power play.  Why then, can we not defend our net when we have more players on the ice than they do!?!

The highlights of the night were when the crowd started chanting “sloppy seconds” at Dion Phaneuf and when my brother mentioned that the guy sitting behind us sounded exactly like Zoidberg from “Futurama.”  That was the gift that kept on giving.

***

Notes

  • The more I watch this team, the more they remind me of last year’s Ottawa Senators.
  • The Lightning just waived Radim Vrbata.  If they try to bring him back up, the Rangers should snag him at half the price.  This guy had a great year with the Coyotes last season and I think he would play wonderfully next to Brandon Dubinsky and Petr Prucha.
  • Michal Rozsival played his best game of the season last night.  Hopefully he can make a habit of it.
  • Corey Potter played very well in his first NHL game and reminded me of Dan Girardi when he was first called up.  Defensively sound.

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Yes, Sid the Kid graced us with his presence and Marc Staal and Colton Orr showed him to his seat.  If you’re looking for analysis of the game as a whole, Jen C. over at Rangerland.net described it best.

Every time two good teams get together, no one team dominates. One might dominate for a period of time and the other will dominate for other times during the course of the game. And there will be times that the game is even.

And I think we saw that for the most part Wednesday night. The Penguins had their moments of dominating play, and the Rangers had theirs. It was a back-and-forth game, and I thought overall it was a good game.

That is exactly how that game played out.  The Rangers, of course, came tumbling out of the gate (as they have been doing for a while now) and didn’t show anything good until early in the second.  Even when the Penguins went up by 2, the Rangers came roaring back and scored just 1:21 later to keep them in it.  And tied it late in the third to force OT.

Whether or not the Penguins sat back on their lead and let up on offense, the Rangers didn’t quit and that has been a common theme throughout the season.  In previous seasons, if the Rangers were trailing heading into the third period, it would seem as if they just gave up on the game.  This season, I actually have confidence that they can claw themselves out of the hole and dominate late in the games.

Some notes:

  • It was amazing how well Colton Orr distracted Sidney Crosby from playing his game.  Crosby was so worked up at one point that after getting hit by Orr along the boards in the first period, he grabbed Orr’s jersey with no penalty called there (surprise, surprise) and yapped at him until Orpik came and got called for two penalties against Orr.  Crosby and Michel Therrien were even yelling at Orr from the bench until Don “Have Another Doughnut” Koharski settled them down.
  • Orr did so much last night but only had 4:56 of icetime?  That can’t be right.
  • Dmitri Kalinin should be embarrassed at how easily Sidney Crosby took the puck from him right before the Penguins first goal.  Crosby gave Kalinin no respect and frankly, why should he?  Crosby knew how easy it would be to overpower Kalinin and it paid off.
  • In a combined 46:12 of icetime, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were held to 1 assist and 5 shots on goal.
  • Petr Prucha looked like he was everywhere on the ice with only 13:10 of icetime.  He came through in a big way by burrying that bounce off the boards.  That was a typical Petr Prucha goal.  Now put him on the PP to clean up the rebounds from Drury’s shots.
  • Oh yeah.  I liked having Drury at the point during the power play in the second period.  He was ripping shots like there was no tomorrow.
  • I’m glad the refs decided to swallow their whistles in the 3rd.  It gave the game some flow and made it much more intense and physical.  It almost felt like a playoff game.
  • PRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Prucha

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Chris Drury is still the man.

82757796AB006_TAMPA_BAY_LIGMore later when I’m bored at work.

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Seriously.  Don’t panic.  It was one game.  It’s still early in the season.  The Rangers have overcome terrible games in the past and they will again.

The game last season against the Canadiens was a terrible game, as was the last 10 minutes of the third period of Saturday night’s game against the Maple Leafs.  But, in the next 10 games after the loss to the Habs, the Rangers went 7-2-1 for 15 of the possible 20 points.  In the 20 games after the loss they went 12-3-5 getting 29 of a possible 40 points in those games.  They maintained an above .700 record for the rest of the season after that terrible loss.

I’m not saying that the Rangers are going to continue at the pace they are playing, but what I am saying is this:

All teams have clunkers. What is the mark of a good team is how they rebound. Last year the Rangers brushed it off and played pretty damn well to finish the season. The Rangers aren’t worried and we shouldn’t be either. This was only the 14th game of the season and they’re still 10-3-1.

If they were now 5-6-3, I’d be worried.

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Even kissing Scott Gomez's ass couldn't have saved the Islanders Monday night.

Even kissing Scott Gomez's ass couldn't have saved the Islanders Monday night.

Hello again, everyone. I know Eric and I are horrible at being consistent with this blog, but we’re doing our best. We are, after all, terribly disabled. What’s this crippling disability which afflicts us, you ask? We’re lazy.

Anyfart, last night’s Monday’s game against the Long Island Douchebags was mighty fun, was it not? Rick “My Vagina Hurts, I Can’t Play” DiPietro was out, most likely watching his stories and getting a bird crap facial, so that of course meant that the Rangers’ offense was going to make Joey MacDonald look like a Vezina finalist, like they do all back-up goalies. But alas! They didn’t! With a final score of 4-2 and shot totals of 39-30, I’m a happy camper.

One thing I felt the game was missing was an all-out brawl. They came close a couple times, and there were some good fights(although Voros needs to stop it with the uppercut, he didn’t land a single one), I was getting really excited for a full-team throwdown at center ice. Although since Rick “Meat in a Man Sandwich” DP wasn’t playing, the Battle of the Pretty Boys would have to wait for another day. So I guess it was better we didn’t waste a brawl, because everyone knows, a good slamming is no fun without a DP.

So I know this is a day late, and not very inclusive, but hopefully it was entertaining and included the main facts – we won, there was no DP, and there were fights. Oh yeah, Dubi took some shitty penalties and Tommy Boy brought the hammer down on him and made him ride pine for a few shifts.  Chris Drury scored his first two goals of the season.   I think that about covers it. Until next time, my friends.

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(Yes, this is late.  Midterms.  Suck it.)

Really? – The Dallas Stars? – They’re 1-3-1, and we can’t beat them? Seriously?

I’ll be quite honest, I was looking forward to this game since this season’s schedule came out. Actually, I look forward to The Lundqvist Bowl every year (more on that later), but this year was different. Because it was the return of Sean Avery. I always loved him as a Ranger, and even up until tonight, I was still a big fan of his. I actually wore my Avery shirt the other day, come to think of it. Yes, he had expressed frustration in what he felt was being rejected by the Rangers, then seeing them turn around and give the contract he wanted to someone else. But, honest as he was, he was still gracious(as gracious as Sean Avery gets), and left his teammates out of it, which proved to me that I was totally justified in still liking him beyond his Ranger tenure.

Until tonight. You, Sean Avery, are an ass. Are you an ass for yapping at anyone and everyone during warm-ups? No. Are you an ass for getting all up in Hank’s grill on the first whistle? No. I expected you to pull all that shit. Looked forward to it, actually.

No, you are an ass for this: “Valiquette is really a minor-leaguer and he’s got to get noticed, so what better way than to talk about me?” [Source: Sam Weinman’s Rangers Report] (Ed. Note:  He’s 2-0 with a shutout!)

Also, you’re an ass for this:

With at least half a dozen onlookers nearby, Avery emerged from the Stars locker room with about four minutes remaining in the break and unleashed a barrage of obscenity at Giannone. Unclear what lit the fuse.

During his tirade, when Avery reportedly made a remark about Giannone’s wife, the broadcaster fired back. [Source: Steve Zipay’s Blue Notes]

Going after an announcer and a back-up goalie? You are one classy bitch, Sean Avery. One classy bitch.

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The Sabres downed the lackluster Rangers last night by a score of 3-1.  The Rangers only managed 9 shots through 2 periods, and never seemed to get it together.

The turning point came midway through the 2nd period with the game tied at 1, when Paul Mara dropped his gloves and unleashed a barrage of punches on Patrick Kaleta.  The problem was Kaleta just keeled over and took the punches without dropping his gloves.  Mara received five for fighting and a game misconduct, while Kaleta was not penalized.  The Sabres scored on the ensuing power play, and never looked back.

Were Mara’s actions justified?  Decide for yourself:

If you recall, Patrick Kaleta was the player who took a run at Paul Mara at the Garden last February.  The result of that questionable hit was that Mara needed facial surgery and missed 12 games.  Mara’s take, “If you look at last year, he late hit me and left his feet.”  (I’m not so sure about the assertion that Kaleta left his feet, but it was definitely a late hit.  Anyway, you can decide for yourself by clicking the link above).

What happened last night?  Mara took exception to Kaleta taking another run at him, claiming that Kaleta left his feet again.  But Kaleta missed.  So, what made Paul Mara so angry?  Well, if you believe Mara, in the ensuing scrum, before Mara dropped his gloves, Kaleta asked Mara “how his face was.”  Ouch.

Mara’s parting shot:

If he was a man he would’ve dropped the gloves, and stayed in there. But I did what I had to do, and that’s it. . . If he was a man he would’ve stood in there, but he can leave his feet whenever he wants, and run around, but he doesn’t have the guts to do anything about it.

What does everyone else think?

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I have to admit I completely underestimated the Penguins before this series. I look back at my series preview and I can’t believe I gave the edge to the Rangers offense. I let the flashy shot totals from the regular season get to my head. What I didn’t take into account was which team was going to capitalize on their scoring chances.

These Penguins certainly know how to put the puck into the net, scoring on 5 out of 17 shots in this game. You can’t fault Lundqvist. His save percentage looks terrible on paper, but not one of those goals was his fault. He wasn’t spectacular, but he wasn’t bad either.

How did the Penguins score 5 goals? It’s as simple as this: The Penguins offense was faster than the Rangers defense with and without the puck. The Rangers defense was burned several times, and frequently coughed up the puck throughout the game.

In the 2nd period, the Rangers seemed to have stolen the momentum after tying the game at 3 and keeping possession deep in the Penguins zone for well over a minute and a half. Then, Ryan Hollweg took a braindead momentum killing boarding penalty.  The Penguins power play, which was absolutely killer, capitalized to make it 4-3. The Pens only had 2 power play chances, but scored on both. (The Rangers went 0 for 5).

So where do the Rangers go from here? The series isn’t technically over, but really, it is.

I’d be surprised if the Rangers can even pull out a win in game 4.

Game notes: I’m not sure what happened to Drury, but he’s definitely hurt. After missing most of the 2nd period, he came back in the 3rd but wasn’t taking faceoffs. (Avery skated at center with Drury on the wing). Blair Betts might be seriously hurt after blocking a slapshot. Renney tried a number of different line combinations, but none of them seemed to work. I really don’t like seeing Brendan Shanahan on the 4th line. Gomez and Avery did not generate any scoring chances with Sjostrom on their line. If Renney was going to keep Shanny on the 4th line, why wouldn’t he dress Prucha instead of Hollweg?? I just don’t get it. I’d really like to see someone, anyone, other than Hollweg after that braindead momentum killing boarding penalty.

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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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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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