Martin Straka would never admit it but maybe the opponents doubling up on Jaromir Jagr is not such a bad thing. Last night Straka was free in front of the net and converted a beautiful pass from Nylander for his first goal. The second came off of a rebound to the right of Robert Esche, Flyer goalie, which he roofed and on the third he sprung himself free from the pack and went in all alone to score his third after Alexei Zhitnik's shot rattled off both goal post's behind Lundqvist.
Lundqvist tried to spoil the party by going for an empty netter but the puck hit Michael York in front of the net and he converted it to make it a one goal game with about 22 seconds to play. That was the only mistake Lundqvist made in another sterling performance. He made 22 saves and could have had a shutout except for his gaffe and Matt Cullen's lazy offensive zone tripping penalty which paved the way for Philly's first goal. The goal went in off of Eric Meloche's skate. Hey Renney, how come Cullen didn't sit the rest of the period? It's a shame that Jarkko Immonen sits while Cullen impedes the number two line.
Lundqvist now has a GAA of 2.90, 24th in the NHL, behind Hasek's number one 2.01. His save % is now up to 9.02, 25th in the league, behind number one Huet of Montreal at .920. Lundqvist has given up eight goals in the last five games. Should be a good matchup Saturday afternoon in Montreal.
Straka is on a pace to set a career high in goals for a season. He tallied 35 goals for the 1998-99 Pittsburgh Penguins. He is 21-27-48 which is second to Jagr's 54 points which is fourth in the league behind Sidney Crosby's 61 points. Jagr's body language is not very encouraging. Though nothing has been said I almost have to believe his shoulder is not 100%. He did get off a great blast in the third period that almost drove Esche into his own net.
The win stretched the Rangers winning streak to three games and ended the Flyers streak at three. The Rangers won five straight, then lost seven straight and now have won three straight. That's 8-7 in the last 15 games. Overall they are 21-17-4 and it all adds up to a .500 hockey team. So what's the problem? You don't think its the coach, do you? I do.
ICINGS: The fans love this new NHL? The Rangers and the Wild were the only home teams to draw capacity crowds last night. Granted there were a few empty seats at the Garden but by and large it was a full house. The Devils against the Islanders drew 12,529, 6,511 short of capacity. Last years Stanley Cup Champs, the Hurricanes, drew 15,096, 3634 short of capacity. At Boston in an original six matchup against Toronto they drew 14,560, 3005 short of capacity. At Washington 11,287 showed up, 6,990 short of capacity to watch the Caps battle the Canadiens. The Blackhawks, another original six, drew 11,849, a whopping 7,411 below capacity. There are about seven or eight strong franchises that regularly sell out. Rangers, Flyers, Maple Leafs, the Wild, the Red Wings, Senators and the Canadiens. I may have missed one or two but that's about it. Add to this weak attendance to the TV national station Versus, is it any wonder that poker gets higher ratings than hockey?
January 5, 2007
Daily News - Rangers' hats off to Straka
NY Post - RANGERS PULL WIN FROM STRAKA'S HAT
Newsday - Straka on mark for trick
January 4, 2007
Daily News - Jagr Assist For Prucha
NY Post - Prucha Pounces
Newsday - Prucha Regaining Touch
Journal News - Rangers' Prucha Having Trials As A Sophmore
8 hours ago