Yes, I know that Jagr got his 52nd goal to tie the game and also tie Adam Graves's Ranger record for 52 goals in a season. I know he got a hugh assist on Petr Sykora's third period goal. I know also that Jagr tied Jean Ratelle's Ranger record for most points in a season with 109 points. And yes, Sykora besides his big third period goal scored the only goal in a shootout. But let's face it folks, if the Prince doesn't come in and make those eight great saves in the third period, one outstanding save in OT and three spectacular saves in the shootout we don't win this game.
Maybe Kevin Weekes was a little soft but he wasn't any softer than his defense which was awful for the first two periods. Rozsival and Malik made like Abbott and Costello on Drury's opening goal. DuMont waltzed through three Rangers to score Buffalo's second. Tyutin gave a master giveaway for Pominville's goal and Weekes left a juicy rebound for Briere. Outside of that the defense was flawless.
Flawless was the Prince. He made a great glove save on Mike Grier. He stopped J. P. Dumont's breakaway chance in OT and in the shootout he was magnificent. A pokecheck by the Prince negated Daniel Briere attempt. An unbelievable stop with the left leg stopped Maxim Afinogenov and then put out his glove hand to flick away Derek Roy's last gasp for the win. He now has 29 wins which ties Jim Henry (1941-42) and Johnny Bower (1953-54) for most wins by a Ranger rookie goaltender. He is now battling Cristobal Huet of Montreal and Dominick Hasek of Ottawa for the goalie awards the GAA race it's Hasek 2.09, Huet 2.14 and Lundqvist 2.17. In the save % it's Huet .930, Hasek .925 and Lundqvist .924. Not bad for a rookie that wasn't even on the Ranger radar screen in the long off season. Of course Huet has been tough on the Rangers and they would have their work cut out for them if they were to meet Montreal in the first round of the playoffs.
Ah yes the playoffs. With the Flyer loss to the Maple Leafs last night the Rangers are two points ahead of the Flyers for the Atlantic Division lead with ten games to go, two against each other. Tonight the Rangers go into the lions den at the Coliseum against the Islanders, a team with no where to go and nothing to lose. The stats favor the Rangers, but throw out the stats when these two teams play. The season series stands at 3-1-1 with three games left against each other. The Ranger power play is sixth in the league and have scored at least one power play goal in 49 of their 72 games this year posting a 33-8-8 in those games. The Rangers penalty killing ranks 5th in the NHL. The Islanders rank 22nd on the power play and 26th on the penalty killing. The Islanders would love nothing more than putting a big crimp in the Rangers playoff plans.
Any combination of seven Ranger wins or Atlanta Thrashers losses will give the Rangers their first playoff spot since 1997. Of course we are aiming higher. The Rangers want to win the Atlantic Division to get home ice advantage for the first round. A second place finish in the Division would put them in fifth place and have to face Buffalo with home ice advantage to Buffalo. Right now the Rangers are two points behind the Sabres so there are a lot of spots at stake in the final ten games.
ICINGS: Look for the Prince to be in the nets tonight and tomorrow night against Ottawa.. Renney may have blundered in starting Weekes against Buffalo at the Garden but the Prince sure saved his onions. If Weekes sees any more ice time it would probably be on the road against the Bruins or the Devils. Kasparaitis should return tonight. Rangers post Olympic final 24 stands at 5-5-1-3 with ten games to go.
Sorry for the delay in getting this out but was having computer problems the last few days and spent them talking to Jake from Bombay who claims I am now ok, but I doubt it. So we shall see as we go along The Road To Mandalay. My computer is old, he said. I reminded him that so was I, and we both need fixing occasionally.
Let's Go Rangers!
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Posted by mike at 2:03 PM