Thursday, March 08, 2007

Onward And Upward

You have often heard me say here that its better to be lucky than good. Tonight the Rangers had a little bit of luck and a great bit of good. In a game that even exceeded Monday night's classic the Rangers believe it or not have climbed into a tie for eighth with Toronto and Carolina, though they have games in hand on both teams. More remarkable the Rangers are now only three points behind the Islanders for seventh place.

There were two huge plays that turned the game in the Rangers favor. The first one was Chris Simon acting like a madman and almost decapitating Ryan Hollweg and giving the Rangers a five minute power play which resulted in Petr Prucha's (17) game winner. Boy, has this kid come back to put together another fine year. The other was the 'no goal', or was it a goal? Thank goodness for instant replays. It would be rough on the refs if the call would be up to them alone and not the boys in Toronto. But the ref was emphatic waving his arms and the goal judge never put on the light so I have to assume the call was correct.

Give the Rangers full credit for almost sweeping the Islanders in the two games. I say almost because the Islanders got a point. Marty Straka played 15:38 of hurt, aching hockey. Paul Mara scored the tying goal (4) and also played an amazing 22:20 of agonizing hurt time. Brendan Dubinsky validated all of our demands to bring him up by playing a solid 8:35 getting two shots on goal, one hit and winning five out of six faceoffs. He played his best hockey in the third period. The other two young guys, Girardi (9:46) and Pock (9:25) were solid throughout getting eighteen shifts. The thing for Renney now is to make sure these kids stay in the lineup. Keep the Dubinsky's and Pock's playing. Girardi seems to be set.

Henrik Lundqvist was magnificent again. He stopped thirty shots and his GAA is now 2.42. Since the All Star game his GAA is around 1.85 and his save % around .930. He is now carrying this team and with some goal support the Rangers could surprise a lot of people, including me. The big question, can he go every game til the end of the season?

One last word on Simon. I was absolutely shocked to see Chris swing his stick at Hollweg. I always admired him for being a big tough enforcer, policeman. However, I was disappointed at his post game news conference when he did not apologize to Ryan Hollweg. He said he had to talk to the league first. He deserves at least a twenty game suspension but knowing Campbell expect ten.

Prucha, DiPietro and Lundqvist were the three stars of the game in that order. But you could also make a case for about five or six other players on either team. My favorite was Sean Avery. Even though he was a minus one, he played 19:51, got four shots on goal, two hits and drew a key penalty on Sean Hill which led to Mara's power play goal. He got two penalties, one was suspect and just played his usual annoying game and constantly drove to the net and constantly annoyed every Islander near him, throwing the Islander defense off their game.

So the Rangers win again and their young guys, Lundqvist, Prucha, Dubinsky, Girardi and Pock all shine and the two newcomers, Avery and Mara blend right in. There is still no guarantee of a playoff spot but at least with the young guys in there it has become exciting. It was playoff type hockey marred by a vicious stick penalty by Simon that led to the Rangers getting the winning goal and a controversial 'no goal' called that would have tied the game. Just think, fifteen more games to go. Can you take it?

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