Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sykora Leads The Comeback Kids

The crowd was stunned. Thirty eight seconds apart in the first period the Calgary Flames scored two goals against their Prince and it looked like a long night for the Rangers. Two shots from the blueline, one by top rookie Dion Phaneuf off of Marek Malik and the other by Rhett Warrener off of a Chuck Kobasew screen and lo and behold our heroes were down 2-0 after the first. Were they to blow another statement game? Was the Prince's mystique about to be shattered? There were even some scattering of boos. This was not one of the Rangers stellar periods of hockey this year.

But at 4:30 of the second period it all came to a screeching halt. That was when the Prince stood tall and stopped Jarome Iginla on his doorstep to keep the game in hand. Thirty three seconds later Straka on a pass from Sykora cut the margin to one by ripping one past goalie Mikka Kiprusoff. Sykora wasn't finished yet. Copying a page out of The Dominic Moore book on how to score goals behind the net, Sykora banked a shot off of Dion Phaneuf to tie the game. Minnesota Fats would have loved that shot.

Then it all changed. The Kamikaze Kids took over and bodies were put upon bodies. The Rangers were credited with 29 hits, three each by Niemenen and Prucha and four each by Kasparaitis, Ortmeyer and Hollweg. Hollweg got his four hits in less than nine minutes of ice time. He would have had more but the Calgary players got rid of the puck quickly when this human cannonball got near them.

The winning goal came off of a rush down the side by Ville Nieminen, who played another outstanding game, fanning on his original shot he put a pass into the goalmouth where it was easily tucked in by Jason Ward. Dominic Moore then scored an empty netter with 38 seconds remaining and the Rangers had a big victory.

The last two periods of hockey were about as good as any the Rangers have played this year. They limited the Flames to only twenty one shots on goal and the addition of Sykora give the Rangers two solid scoring lines. The defense was solid. There were 'only' ten giveaways and wonder of wonders Michal Rozsival had none and Marek Malik had only one. Good job guys.

Henrik Lundqvist was our Prince again. Despite having two goals scored against him rather quickly he made 19 saves in the game and finished with a flourish with some outstanding saves. His presence in the nets seems to breed more confidence in the rest of the team. They know the last line of defense is as solid as it comes and you could see it last night as the level went up after each shift. Lundqvist was voted the third star and the peasants cheered. Straka was number two star and Petr Sykora on his triumphant return to the New York Area was voted the number one star. Big win against a big team.


The Battle of Alberta puzzles over - Of Wins and Two-Goal Leads...

No matter how you slice it, that's freakin' terrible....I just can't believe that there's any explanation besides fluke for why the Flames have a better record in games where they take a 1-goal lead (but no more) than in games where they take a 2-goal lead (but no more).

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