Monday, October 20, 2014

Close To Perfection

It would be hard to imagine the Rangers playing a more complete and satisfying game that they played yesterday afternoon, than the 4-0 win over a very good Sharks team. The Sharks came in tied for first in the Pacific with nine points and had shellacked the Devils the previous game and are considered a strong Stanley Cup contender. So what went right?

Everything. Lundqvist got his first shutout of the year, 51st of his career, and made 33 saves. The one he almost missed was saved by D-man Matt Hunwick, who cleared a teetering puck from the goal line early in the match that would have given the Sharks a 1-0 lead. Lundqvist was so impressed with Hunwick's effort he awarded him the Broadway Hat after the game.

It was a big night for firsts. First goal scorers were, Hagelin, St. Louis and rookie Kevin Hayes, who looks like he may blossom into a big contributor. The Rangers also set a franchise record by scoring two goals, St. Louis and Nash, in four seconds. Nash's goal was his 7th, becoming the first Ranger to score 5 goals in the season's first six games. Also, the Rangers have won 66 straight games when getting at least 4 goals. The last time the Rangers scored four goals and lost was 10/29/2011 in a 5-4 shootout loss to Ottawa.

Other good news. The Rangers were 41-21 on faceoffs. And guess what else? The coach basically stayed with the four line structure. Hayes centered Nash and Kreider. Brassard centered Zucarrello and St. Louis. Moore was moved up to the third line between Hagelin and the surprising Stempniak and Chris Mueller, promoted from Hartford centered the battering rams of Malone and Glass. Glass had six hits and Malone had five.

Anything go wrong? Yes, but minor. The power play was 0-1 and now is 0-17, the longest drought since 2003-04 that went 0-32. So we have a way to go, but as the coach is fond of saying, don't critique a win. Two big road games coming up at New Jersey and Montreal. Let's Go Rangers!

ICINGS: T/Birds were trounced 7-1 in their last game dropping them to 1-3. Still time to turn it around.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rangers Edge Canes in Shootout

I gave a sigh of relief when Nash scored the game winner in the shootout. Yeah, we won but now I could go to sleep and stop fighting it, watching a bad game between two mediocre teams. The Canes have not won a game this year and are 0-2-2. Of course they are playing without the Staal brothers, Eric and Jordan, plus Jeff Skinner, Patrick Dwyer and D-man Andrej Sekera, so their team is depleted. So what's the Rangers excuse?

The Ranger coach reverted to the tactics of his predecessors, with many line changes, some even on the fly, so it was difficult to tell who was playing with whom. Sam and Joe did a good job keeping us updated. They also did an admirable job making a poor game sound interesting. Reminded me of the 'old days' when Yankee announcer Mel Allen had the Yankees making all those great catches and hitting all those bullets, all on the radio. Then we went to TV and saw that most of the stuff was ordinary. But I digress.

However, both goalies were good. Lundqvist made 29 saves and the Cane goalie, Anton Khudobin made 33. Carolina was 0-3 on the power play, the Rangers were 0-5. For the season the Rangers are 0-16. The crowd booed the Rangers after the second period. Sam and Joe didn't mention that. Only good news folks.

But we have seen this act before. Last year we started 3-6 before turning it around. So we keep the faith and wait for the turnaround. However, it would be good to play a good game. We have had one this year and one of five is not good. Let's get it together boys. Maybe the coach had it right after the game, "Don't critique a win."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What's Really Going On In Rangerland?

First, an apology for posting so late after a big rivalry game. At least it used to be called a big rivalry game. So a close 2-2 game after two periods explodes into a 6-3 Islander win as they scored four goals in the third period. This is the second straight game in which the Rangers, and Henrik Lundqvist have given up six goals in a game.

The reason for the lateness is that I had a colonoscopy this morning. After seeing the third period last night, I vote for the colonoscopy. Yes, the defense was bad. Two huge turnovers by D-man Mike Kostka didn't help, but you usually expect Lundqvist to save the D-men from harm.

Now the Rangers have some serious problems. Number one center Stepan is out with a broken leg for at least another 8-10 games. Dan Boyle, number two pair with Staal, and hope for the power play point is out for 4-6 weeks. And Staal who is playing under par also has issues, fortunately not physical. Staal is playing with a new partner every night. Also, he is a free agent after this year and the Rangers should sign him up now and not wait til the end of the year when he will surely bolt to his brothers in Carolina. Sign him up and relieve his anxiety.

While the Rangers have found a replacement for Stepan, Martin St. Louis, they still have a hole at center. So far, they have found no replacement for Dan Boyle. Without a Boyle replacement the pressure is on Staal and Girardi and McDonagh. More ice time, more tired, more mistakes.

As for Lundqvist, I recommended in my last post that he sits against the Islanders. This was no stab in the dark. Records show that Henrik endures these slumps a couple times of the year. He bounces back best when given a game off to watch, reflect and calm down. The guy puts too much pressure on himself and sometimes over reacts.

There was some good news, however small. Nash scored two goals, (5) and (6) and Ryan Malone was finally inserted into a game and showed the coach, team and fans what he could do. In 11:39 of ice time he had two shots, five hits, was a force on the power play which was 0=3. As I have said previously, it's too early to panic, but it's not too early not to be concerned.

ICINGS: I didn't mean to make light of the colonoscopy, but if you are 40 or over I recommend you make an appointment with your gastro doctor and get a checkup. Colon cancer is the largest killer in men. However, get it checked early and it will be corrected. Trust me, I speak from experience.

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