Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas in Ottawa-Rangers Give til it Hurts

How else to explain last night's fiasco. The Rangers were in a giving mood. They kept giving the Senators opportunity after opportunity until it killed them. The Rangers were "credited" with ten giveaways which was kind. On the other hand the Senators were credited with thirteen takeaways mostly given up meekly by the Rangers. Make no mistake this was one Ranger debacle.

It started with Michal Rozsival turning over the puck and taking a penalty. It led to a power play goal by Dany Heatley and all this only 2:13 into the game. To the Rangers credit they stormed back with a tying goal by Martin Straka 43 seconds later and a go ahead goal by Prucha, the fearless, his 17th. But then it all collapsed as the Rangers continued to give the puck away and were outhustled by the Senators. The last goal by Ottawa was fitting, a clear out by Dominic Moore, on to the stick of Mike Fisher who buried it past Lundqvist. Lundqvist came in to replace Weekes after Anton Volchenkov's goal at 14:58 of the first period.

While Weekes was not the main culprit in the loss, Tom Renney passed up on a golden opportunity for a showdown between two of the top goalies in the league. Right now Hasek, The King, and Lundqvist, The Prince, are tied for second in GAA, each with a 2.11. Fernandez of Minnesota leads the goalie race with a 2.06. It was also a chance for Renney to see how far the Rangers have progressed against the top team in the NHL.

Renney said he was going with experience. We wrote about this experience thing early in the year. Henrik Lundqvist played all year in Europe during the NHL lockout. In 40 games in a select league in Europe Lundqvist had a 1.79 GAA. Renney is now coaching like he forgot it is a rebuilding year. Rebuild? You go with the young hot goalie over the experienced, but less steady goalie. The Rangers have now lost four out of five games and Weekes has been the losing goalie in three of those games. Granted, Lundqvist can not play all the games, nor do I expect he should. However, in the big statement type of games, he should be the goalie. The Rangers have to find out soon how far they have progressed and that progression must include Henrik Lundqvist as the goalie.

ICINGS: It was the kind of game that brought our penalty killers down to earth with a 3-6 penalty kill. The power play returned to its usual doldrums with an 0-5 performance. Jaromir Jagr sat out the third period after a collision with Chris Kelly of the Senators. Jagr is suffering neck spasms but should be ready for the Islanders Wednesday on the Island. Jason Strudwick continues to be the odd man out despite solid and feisty play while the Rozsival's and Poti's get ice time despite their soft and inconsistent play.

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