In the old days of Broadway the shows would open in places like Hartford, Scranton and Buffalo, and if successful they would bring the show to Broadway. Thank goodness they don't do that anymore because off of last nights performance the Rangers would have to close in Buffalo. Maybe the Rangers had too much time off. Maybe the Sabres are the elitist of the elite. Maybe Tom Renney should not have changed the lineup. The bottom line is the Rangers bombed in Buffalo.
What happened to this fine tuned machine that blitzed through the Atlanta Thrashers? True, the Sabres are a better team than Atlanta but it was more the Rangers ineptness and sloppiness that brought down the Blueshirts last night. The Rangers took eight penalties, three holdings, two hookings, a goalie interference, closing the hand on the puck (Malik) and a bogus roughing call against Ryan Hollweg, who played all of 5:29.
Martin Straka's giveaway and subsequent hooking penalty at 13:54 of the second period was the start of the Rangers downfall. The Rangers had started the game strong and Jagr almost scored at the 32 second mark and even though they put 34 shots on Ryan Miller they really never challenged him. The Cullen, Callahan and Prucha line seemed to have the most jump but how do you explain Renney giving Prucha all of 7:42 of ice time? Why play Hollweg over Orr and give him so little time? Watching Rachunuk out of position on Thomas Vanek's second goal made me long for the safe, position playing Thomas Pock. Second guessing, why change a winning lineup?
The Rangers have to regroup and do it fast. Jagr has to be more assertive and forceful. He got two shots in the first period and then went into a funk, giving up the puck five times. Despite getting four hits, Avery was not a factor and finished with a minus three. The Shanahan, Straka, Avery line was a combined minus ten. Lundqvist kept the Rangers in the game with 15 saves in the first period but was left naked in the second period when the Sabres broke it up with three goals in 4:05.
The seriousness of the Rozsival injury is not known but the Rangers have to be more disciplined this time. They must cut down on the penalties. One good thing about opening off Broadway, you get a chance to recast and rewrite the script before you come to the big town. Let's do it. Renney has to rewrite this script to bring the series home even.
April 26, 2007
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