Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Dreaded Two Goal Lead

You can come up with a lot of reasons why the Rangers blew another two goal lead and lost to the Penguins today. You can blame Malik's stick for deflecting Corey Armstrong's shot past Lundqvist. Of course if Malik had any speed he would have been in front of Armstrong and could have blocked the shot. However, you really can't blame Malik on this one because both Straka and Rozsival made weak attempts to clear the puck out of the zone and were both unsuccessful.

You could blame the power play which went 0-5 and on two successive power plays in the second period failed to get a shot on goal. They had a chance to put the game away with a 2-0 lead but they allowed a shaky Marc-Andre Fleury to wiggle off the hook and turn the game around.

You could also blame referees Dan O'Rourke and Chris Rooney who must have thought it was St. Patrick's Day and let Sidney Crosby get away with everything including a quite obvious goalie interference in the third period that had Lundqvist livid. Crosby is the true heir apparent to Mario Lemieux in that you act pained every time you are touched and get away with murder on the opposition. Jaromir Jagr doesn't get this respect because he isn't a Canadien.

You could blame the loss on the fact that the Rangers were tired from their two wars against the Islanders. How tired are they going to be tomorrow afternoon against the rested Hurricanes? Or you could put the blame on the fact that Jagr got hurt and did not play at all in the third period.

However, I put the blame solely on the shoulders of head coach Tom Renney. Why did he start the OT with Straka and Nylander as forwards along with two overplayed defensemen, Rozsival and Malik? This is a dangerous group to have on together. They were tired skating on to the ice. One forward, Straka, can't shoot, the other, Nylander, won't. In 21:36 of regulation time Straka had no shots on goal. In 19:55 of regulation time Nylander had all of two shots on goal and none in the third period. They spent most of the game skating east west and even took the OT faceoff and skated backwards. From there it was all downhill. Why play a guy like Straka, if he can't shoot? Isn't an able bodied youngster like Immonen or Callahan or Dubinsky, who was dressed but I don't think Renney knew it, better than a player who could just skate?

The power play in the second period had three attempts to get the elusive third goal and in two consecutive penalties failed to get a shot on goal. On one attempt the second unit got only 29 seconds of PP time. What did Renney do to fix this? Nothing. The Rangers were 0-5 on the PP and Renney constantly sent out the usual suspects and they routinely went into the North Carolina four corner offense, pass, skate; pass skate; pass skate; ad nauseum. What happened to Mara and Cullen on the points? Certainly they are better than Rozsival and Straka. Again, not to be redundant, one can't shoot, Straka, the other, Rozsival, won't.

Nothing has changed with Renney. Brandon Dubinsky, who showed great promise against the Islanders, got all of 4:46 of ice time. Daniel Giradi, 11:15, Thomas Pock, 10:22, Petr Prucha, who scored two key goals against the Islanders in the two game series, got all of 11:35. Rozsival got 28:44 and Malik clocked 23:39 of ice time. Is it any wonder why they where dragging and were beaten at the end.

Lundqvist was quite livid at the end. He criticized the team for taking too many penalties, nine, and not being able to clear the puck. All three goals scored by Pittsburgh were a result of the Rangers inability to clear the puck out of the defensive zone. Two were scored on the PP. The Pens were two for nine on the power play. Like Lundqvist said, too many penalties and we can't clear the puck. Renney was happy with the point.

ICINGS: Jagr left with soreness in his right leg after the second period. No word as of this posting on his availability for tomorrow's game against Carolina. Unfortunately Tom Renney will show up.

March 10, 2007
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Journal News
Islanders' Simon Suspended, Could Be Charged

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