There have been many poorly refereed games in the new NHL, but last night was one of the worst. Not only were there bad calls leading to penalties there were the usual assortment of non calls. The Rangers got away with nothing. The Sabres got away with everything including the game. The final indignity was Jason Pominville picking Brendan Shanahan on Chris Drury's game winner.
There were ten penalties called on the Rangers and four on the Sabres. The first one was a double minor on Chris Drury for blooding Adam Hall. And wouldn't you know it, there was Lindy Ruff, the old Lady Bynger, screaming about the call on the bench. He must have thought that Hall put his nose on Drury's stick. It must have worked as the Refs only called four more penalties against Buffalo and ten against the Rangers. There were a variety of takedowns, trippings and interference infractions that were never called against the Sabres.
The Rangers helped the Sabres with two beautiful giveaways, a regular practice these days. Trying to kill a questionable Hollweg roughing call, Matt Cullen was in the offensive zone and passed the puck back instead of putting it in deep. The Sabres broke out and scored their first goal. The second was a giveaway by Ozolinsh right to Thomas Vanek, in front of Lundqvist, who buried it for a 2-0 Buffalo lead.
Give the Blueshirts credit as they roared right back with a goal by Straka twenty seconds after Vanek's and then in the third period a tying goal by Straka which sent the game into OT giving the Rangers a point, which moved them into first place by a point over the Islanders. However the Islanders have two games in hand. Jagr picked up his 25th assist adding to his league high 37 points. Nylander recorded his 23 assist and Straka's two goals gave him 13 on the season. Along with Shanahan this has become the Rangers best and only threats to score some goals.
And therein lies the problem. Jagr, Straka, Nylander and Shanahan have 50 of the teams 74 goals, 68%. The other nine forwards on the Rangers have a total of 18 goals, with Hollweg and Orr having no goals. The defense has 6 goals from 8 defensemen, with Malik, Ozolinsh, Rachunek and Kasparaitis having no goals. Contrast that with Buffalo where every forward with significant games except one, Andrew Peters, has scored a goal. Peters has played in 19 games. In effect the Rangers were throwing one and a third lines against four last night.
Lundqvist played another strong game, stopping 28 of 31 shots. The Sabres were 1-10 on the PP and the Rangers were 0-5. However the refs and two monstrous giveaways was too much for the Rangers and Lundqvist to overcome. The Rangers meet Buffalo one more time and that is up in Buffalo on Friday December 1st. If we lose again, that should be a signal to the 'drain trust' that this team needs a big scoring moose up front and Keith Tkachuk would fill the bill nicely. And the defense. You still think Brian Leetch is too old to play for this team?
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