Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Lost Weekend (Well Two Ties)

Lightening win shootoutHow else to explain it other than a lost weekend when you blow two goal leads in back to back games in funny Florida. Yes, Jaromir Jagr continues his assault on the Ranger all time scoring records. He now has 51 goals and 56 assists and is two away from Jean Ratelle's all time record of 109 points.

The other key component of the Ranger surge, Henrik Lundqvist, had a mixed bag night, making 31 saves. He gave up a soft goal in the first period, seemed disoriented in the second and played like gangbusters in the third (10 saves) and OT (6 saves).

The refs (not again?) played their usual dominating roll in this game. The Rangers were called for five penalties, all soft. The Refs missed many cheap shots by the Lightning, calling only three penalties against Tampa Bay. One particular case was a Lightning player, possibly Kubina, slamming his stick across Steve Rucchin's mouth and no call with the ref a few feet away. Reminiscent of the one handed slash by Jay Bouwmeester of Florida on Martin Rucinsky, which broke Marty's finger. The Ref was near the goal and the play was right in front of him. No call, no penalty. Plus a soft penalty call on Tom Poti (what else) in OT killed any chance of us winning in OT.

However, the piece de resistance was the waving off a Ranger goal in the second period. Can't blame the refs for this one. Blame the experts upstairs, or in Toronto or Hades, wherever they are sitting because to quote JD, "It was inconclusive." Inconclusive? The ref pointed his finger to signify a goal, the goal judge turned the light on and it was inconclusive? The Lightning players didn't complain and John Grahame, Tampa Bay goalie never said a word. Why? Because the puck was under him and he didn't move a muscle for minutes. His feet were inside the goal. Look at the picture, if you can find one and tell me its not a goal.

Then came the shootout and the unthinkable. Jagr, Sykora and Nylander unable to put one past John Grahame. John Grahame? One wonder why Petr Prucha was not given a shot on the shootout? Also, it is puzzling why Jagr is so ineffective in shootouts, 2-8. I wonder why he just doesn't skate in and from about ten feet away fire off one of those lasers that he has been firing past goalies in regulation?

Tom Renney seems to have forgotten how we got here. Its Jagr, Lundqvist and the HMO line. That is how it has been mostly done. With Hollweg on a three game suspension, no guarantee he would play anyway, the Rangers brought up Alexandre Giroux from Hartford. Giroux is Hartford's top goal scorer, thirty four. Despite playing well early on, he helped draw our first PP by being interfered by Fedorenko, leading Sykora's PP goal. So Giroux gets all of 2:50 of ice time and this cascades down the HMO line where Ortmeyer gets 3:50 and Moore gets 4:41 of ice time. WOW! The one line that holds its own, goes check for check with the other team and they sit for almost 55 minutes of the game. Remember Moore and Ortmeyer killed of the bulk of the Lightning's five power plays. Tampa bay was 0-5 on the PP.

ICINGS: The Rangers post Olympic final 24 is now 4-5-1-3 with eleven to go. There are three left against the revitalized Islanders, two against surging Philadelphia, two against Eastern Conference leader Ottawa and singletons against the Bruins, Devils, Penguins and Buffalo. Read Larry Brooks' Slapshot article in the New York Post about the machinations of the Jagr deal and how the NHL as a league is 229 games over .500. Only in the NHL folks, only in the New NHL.

17th hole at TPC SawgrassMore Florida Fun: watching professional golfers hit the ball in the water at the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The joy of watching pro's firing blanks in another Florida "shootout." Google Maps satellite view.

The pin is set at 138 yards today with a 7-8 mph breeze.

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