Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fleury, Pens Special

The Penguins were 1-5 on their power play, generating fifteen shots on goal on the PP and thirty-two shots over all. The Rangers were 0-6 on the power play getting only nine shots on goal and twenty-six over all. Therein lies the tale of today's 2-0 Pens win giving them a 2-0 edge in the series that now goes back to New York where the Rangers must win the next two games. Also, the Penguins blocked twenty-two Ranger shots and the Rangers only blocked nine Penguin shots. The hits were even at twenty-eight apiece and the only key area won by the Rangers were faceoffs where they held a 37-20 edge. Unfortunately the Rangers could not capitalize on that stat just as they failed to capitalize on the power play, a bugaboo all season long.

Coach clueless made one lineup change, but looking at it I came to the conclusion that he made no lineup changes. Petr Prucha was penciled in over Colton Orr and got all of 5:50 of ice time including no time at all on the power play. Sean Avery, agitator extraordinaire in front of a goalie, got no ice time on the power play. In fact, Avery got the least ice time, 12:43, of the top six forwards. Ryan Callahan and Nigel Dawes got eight seconds each on the power play. So four young, aggressive type players got zilch on the power play while the usual suspects who have been ineffective all year on the power play got at least 5:25, Shanahan, to a high of 6:46 for Jagr who got three shots on goal the entire game and had four blocked. Martin Straka, who you would think would come out roaring after yesterday's call, got 20:45 of ice time, 6:00 of power play time with all of one shot on goal, one blocked shot, one missed shot but many pirouettes. He also has no luck as his game tying goal with a little over four minutes to go was overruled as the whistle blew before the puck squirted over the goal line. Tough call, but the rules can be cruel. Two games in a row Straka is involved in a game changing call.

Coach clueless has basically destroyed Petr Prucha this year. The guy who holds the Ranger rookie record for power play goals in a season and scored thirty goals in his rookie season has been relegated to the taxi squad so to speak. His percentage of a goal per game for his career is 28%, exceeded on the Rangers only by Jagr and Drury, and Drury is only at 30%. Prucha belongs on the PP and deserves more that six minutes of ice time. The power play has killed the Rangers all year and is the only constant on this team. The constant is bad and it lost a big game today.

Give the Pens credit though. Even though an effective power play could have turned the game around, the Pens controlled the game from start to finish. Fleury won the game but I don't really think he outplayed Lundqvist. Lundqvist made 30 saves, many spectacular, and Fleury made 26 saves.The defense in front of Fleury was solid as the twenty-two block shots attest to. The Rangers need some changes for game three, but I doubt that clueless will make them. The fourth line of Betts, Hollweg and Orr should be reunited. Prucha needs to be on one of the top three lines. Clueless will not sit Straka, even though he should, so maybe he should replace Dawes who is struggling a bit. I don't like to see Dawes sitting, but Straka will never be benched and Fredrik Sjostrom should sit. I fail to see what he brings to the party.

On defense, it's time to put Christian Backman in the observatory. He got over twenty minutes of ice time with 5:46 of power play time and no shots on goal the entire game. Play Jason Strudwick who brings stability and toughness, both qualities lacking in Backman, and both needed for our defense corp. I also don't understand the philosophy on the power play that has two defensemen at the points. Well, I do understand it. Coach clueless is playing defense even when the Rangers are on the power play. He is more concerned with giving up a shorthanded goal than scoring a powerplay goal. Both changes will probably not be made for Sjostrom and Backman were acquired by the Stealth GM and there is no way clueless will buck the GM. If the Stealth acquires them they must be great. Remember how long we had to live with Poti?

The Rangers are now in a similar position that they were in last year against Buffalo, down 2-0 in games and coming home. However, they cannot let Pittsburgh seize control of the game like they did today. I still believe that the best defense is a strong offense and we need an effective power play but did not have that today. Lundqvist played one whale of a game today. Too bad the Rangers didn't match him. The Penguins are now undefeated in the playoffs. But it ain't over yet!


BlueShirt Bulletin:
Rangers Unplugged in Pittsburgh -- the credit has to go to the Penguins, their underrated defense turning in an outstanding performance in limiting the Rangers' scoring chances at even strength as well as on the power play...

Scotty Hockey:
Rangers No-Show -- In playoff hockey, the team that leaves it all on the ice is the one who prevails. Simply said, the Rangers have yet to do it. They didn't even seem to break a sweat until late in the third period, when the urgency factor kicked in. And that is just not good enough. They limp home down 2-0 after losing Game 2 2-0. They tried to adapt their style of play to the way the Pens play and it didn't work...

Aggggggghhh! -- These are grown men. The instructions are very simple. Keep your sticks down and if you lose position on the enemy, you are baiting the referees by reaching in with the twig...

Bob "Battleship" Kelly was mentioned during the broadcast. A few of his fights:
His NHL Fight Scorecard

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  • wes said...

    What is Renney thinking not playing Avery more? Avery is the linchpin for any offense that the Rangers can muster. This is crazy stuff to be pulling in a big game. Does he have a death wish?

  • Dr. Turkleton said...

    nice game review from your Rangers' perspective.

    Thank You for not calling for a Crosby dive on the Tuytin penalty. From my seat in the 1st balcony above that looked like a high/low 'check' [high with the glove/ low with the body] and a legit call. I've yet to see a replay, so I could reverse course if/when I see one.

    that was 1 tight game & I knew the Rangers would have a couple chances down the stretch on the PP to get the equalizer but just couldn't put the puck behind Fleury [at least before the whistle blew]

    I'm not a Pens fan that is calling for a Sweep or saying the Pens have dominated the series to date. Until the Pens can win as MSG, this series is FAR from being called 'over'.

    Thanks for using The Devil Wears Avery PS a few days ago!!!!!!!

    I'm probably in the minority of Pens fans when I say that I like 90% of Avery's's that 10% that gets him into trouble based on his rep that rubs me the wrong way.
    I believe he'll always earn an NHL paycheck because he CAN play the game, he's an A- skater, an A+ pest, but his off ice [including inside the penalty box] antics gives people reason to HATE him.

  • jb said...

    This series is setting up exactly like the one last year against Buffalo.

    Last year the Rangers won game 3 at the Garden on April 29th, but the "faster, younger" legs of the Sabres prevailed in the end. Jagr is a year older and he was the one last year who carried the team on his back in game 3. I get the same vibe of "faster, younger" legs from the Pens.

    Shanney for one is shot, he's good for standing in front of the net on the powerplay and that's about it.

    Shelving Avery like Renney did is baffling. And I think I'm most worried about the defense, playing Backman, as pointed out, is not a solution. Renney on defense wants to dance with the ones who brung us here, while on offense he's left Avery as a wall flower. Strange.

    Given how dire the Rangers problems are it's hard to get worked up over Crosby being light on his skates.

  • mike said...

    wes-Coach clueless is not a thinker. In Italian we have a phrase for guys like him, a morta viva, the living dead.

  • mike said...

    dr. turkleton-Welcome to the RP>

    Crosby didn't dive but he goes down fast for a big guy. That is why Jagr was screaming at him. Jagr is not a diver. Super Mario was a diver.

    Thanks for the Pens side of the story. Without Avery there is no playoffs for Rangers. Look up the record with and without.

  • mike said...

    jb-You are right. Crosby, right now, is not the Rangers big problem. Coach clueless is the Rangers big problem.

  • Section 335 said...

    I am a fan. I have not lost hope.

    I expect the Rangers will win the next two games, and, if so, then the next two after that. Why? Because we have not lost three in a row since January. Because we get the last change, and it matters. Because Jagr does not want to go home to Europe yet or hand over the NHL to the next generation (which will not be Crosby but Malkin and Ovechkin), because the King will steal a game or two and the kids will feel at home at home.

    If we play to win, we will.

    It is still 12 to go, one at a time.

    Let's Go Rangers!

    PS. I must say that I have a very strong dislike for Bettman and his desire to copy David Stern's path for success by riding on the back of a league of self promoted stars.

  • mike said...

    swction 335-You're right. We still have a good chance to come back.

    Don't forget Bettman came from the NBA. He thinks Crosby/Ovechkin will become Bird/Johnson. No way. Basketball is basically a one on one sport. Hockey is a team sport. Fans don't flock to see the stars, they flock to see their team win.

  • Anonymous said...

    If the Penguins can steal game 3 or 4 at MSG, this series is o-v-e-r

  • jfl1066 said...

    lovin Shanny, but get Prucha up there on that line so Gomez isn't skating by himself. I may have had a beer or two, but I'd rather see Malik than Backman. Can't wait to be in MSG tomorrow...I wonder what will be the chant when Bing touches the puck?

  • The Big K said...

    Nice review with strong, unbiassed opinions.
    All good things to say about your blog.
    Good work.

    One of the only Ranger blogs not calling our best player bush league names like 'Cindy' or calling him a diver.

    I wish you all the best, except against the Pens haha.

  • mike said...

    anonymous-So you think if the Pens could steal game 3 or 4 the series is o-v-e-r. Wow! You are one mathematical whiz.

  • mike said...

    jfl1066-Have another beer. Backman will do that to you.

    Its not going to be a family cheer.

  • mike said...

    the big k-I try to call them as I see them. After 70 years you can't cover anything up.