Saturday, March 31, 2012

Winning Hab-it Continues: Rangers 4, Canadiens 1

While watching the Rangers convincing 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, I got into a back and forth internal dialog with myself. How really good are these guys I kept asking? Are the Rangers truly the best team in the NHL, a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs, or are the Habs that bad now?

Have the Canadiens checked out early and started their off season? They must be just going through the motions and letting the Broadway boys have their way, I thought. Because, for a 'good skating' team they can't find any room to get shots on Lundqvist.

No, I would then think, the Montreal players must be playing hard. They are playing for their pride, their families, and most of all for their jobs for next season. So the Rangers are just playing their lock down, shot blocking, Tortorella game. They ended with 18 blocks.

But on the other hand, what about the dismal losing atmosphere that has infiltrated Montreal? Heck, the Montreal fans are all singing the ‘Lose Habs Blues.’ The franchise is in total disarray and they are just mailing it in.

So how can we tell if this is one of the best Rangers teams of all time? They will certainly have more than 50 wins and are challenging to beat the season record of 112 points from the '94 Cup team. Plus they can and have shut down much better teams than La Canadiens.

But, how could this be the same Habs team that toyed with and tortured the Rangers the last two times they played at the House of Horrors, the Bell Centre? Montreal won those two games, 4-0 in November, and 4-1 in January. Is that just an old curse that haunts the Blueshirts? Must be, I thought.

Maybe the Rangers cursed Montreal right back, when we pawned Scotty Gomez on them back in June of 2009. The Habs have been going downhill ever since then, in terms of playoff performance. Call it the Curse of the Scotty Gomez.

The truth, as usual, probably lies somewhere in the middle of my mental monologue. The Rangers are a team with the playoffs in front of them and confidence coursing through their veins. The Canadiens are the polar opposite. Plus, Lundqvist in net, turns a good Rangers team into a great team. The last period was still riveting, because I think we were all pulling for The King to keep the shutout. The Montreal score with 2:29 remaining, was a big disappointment. You could see Henrik was not happy.

Anyway, this debate will rage inside and outside until we close out the season and get to the acid test of the playoffs and see where this team really stands in history.

But in the meantime, what a treat this team is serving up as they come down the home stretch. They are an over achieving group, when for years we have been saddled with chronic under achievers.

Notes and rehashes:

Richards, Gaborik, and their kid flash, Hagelin, have caught lightning in a bottle. They look like a threat to score every time they are on the ice. Richards is getting his points in bunches now, 1 goal and 2 assists this time.

De Zotto, as is typical, played a Jekyll and Hyde game. His early turn overs and defensive lapses gave way to a couple of  great goals and an assist.  #Maddening

The Dr. Jekyll power play also showed up. That Mr. Hyde 0-fer-ever is in temporary remission.

Once the Rangers had the 3-1 lead, it seemed like the intensity level went up as every player on the Rangers started looking to take home some points from this game. #PadtheStats

Finally, it was great to see Cally win the Steve McDonald Award. Adam Graves won the award 5 times, and Callahan looks like he will challenge that record.

-----
ICINGS:

Scoring Summary:
G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 1 08:56 EV NYR Gaborik(39) Richards(38) Hagelin(24)
2 2 00:30 PP NYR Richards(25) Stepan(32) Del Zotto(31)
3 3 08:17 PP NYR Del Zotto(9) Stepan(33)
4 3 16:58 EV NYR Del Zotto(10) Gaborik(34) Richards(39)
5 3 17:31 EV MTL Bourque(18) Plekanec(34) Campoli(9)
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6 comments:

  • Jen9400 said...
     

    Well put JB. I find myself going through the same dialogue almost every game but you hit the nail on the head when you said Lundqvist makes a good team a great team. The difference between 1994 and 2012 is that in 1994 we had a very well rounded dominant group coached by a coach who is aggressive with both offense and defense. That PP was awesome. It seems that coach disagreeable has finally figured out that the PP needs set units and the top offensive players need to be on the first unit. Well at least for now and not to overstate it either. It seems we have one unit with Gaby Cally Step Brad and MDZ. I think coach might - and i stress the might - stick with this for a little while because he can live with it being that Callahan cuts down the risk of having a defensive breakdown. The guy is all defense all the time. People tell me how great he is all the time because he's tough but I see him as the opposite. He's a loudmouth jerk who plays not to lose rather than to win. He can't give the team any compliments always telling the media how the first place finish and 50 wins is meaningless or crap as he put it last night. God forbid he say that first place is important and that is our short term goal - not to mention the team deserves it. Nope. The players might think he has gone soft if he gives them anything positive. The only place that man is soft is in the brain. Anyway, the playoffs are once again upon us and this time it looks like our boys can accomplish something really good. We'll have to keep on doing this wait and see. If Henrik can stonewall teams throughout the playoffs the Rangers could very well be the last team standing and Henrik wants it really bad. Let's enjoy it in spite of the jerk and in spite of all of the holes in the team that us longtime fans have a hard time ignoring. I love the players we have and how they play for each other. As Henrik said on the radio the other day, the guys play for each other and they build each others confidence. To that I say Lets Go Rangers!

  • Anonymous said...
     

    I strongly disagree with everything you say about Torts... He clearly dislikes the media and the hype that it can create so I guess he can be a jerk in that respect, but its impossible to deny what he has done to this club on the ice and in the locker room. Give me a guy that focuses on his team and winning rather than a media savvy personality (ie Rex Ryan).

  • Scotty Hockey said...
     

    "The curse of the Scotty."

    Hey!

  • jb said...
     

    Hi Jen / anon,

    Maybe someday, someone will write Torts the play, because he is like a Shakespearean character.

    The main character in a Shakespearean play possesses a tragic flaw. It is an element of his personality that dominates and drives the story. This flaw leads to an error that eventually causes the character's downfall.

    Tortorella's flaw is an inflated ego that drives him, Torts, to be at the center of every story line that concerns the Rangers. Is he a full on megalomaniac? I'm not sure, but he certainly displays symptoms of the that disorder.

    Is there method to his madness? The results so far this year seem to say yes. But do not forget, this is the same guy who self destructed the team and their playoff chances in 2009. His tragic flaw bit us.

    Just to refresh you on that, here is the Wikipedia recap of that dismal "water bottle" ending to the 2009 playoffs:

    Tortorella was suspended 1 game by the NHL for an altercation with several Capitals fans behind the bench in the third period of Game 5 in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Replays show the fan clearly heckling Tortorella through verbal jeering, before Tortorella responded by throwing a water bottle at a fan before grabbing a stick from Aaron Voros and trying to spear the fan through a space between 2 panes of glass. He did not receive a penalty on the play despite the fact that NHL rules state any physical altercations with fans result in ejection from a game; however, the next day the NHL suspended him.

    So the final act for this season has not yet been written.

    Will Torts go of the rails again and do something that sabotages the team, because his ego has been somehow bruised? We shall see.

    Regarding the powerplay, I heard some stat last night that defenseman have only scored a couple of goals on the PP this season. I think this was after Del Zotto scored. I think that is the main problem. None of the d-men have that wicked booming slap shot that scares anyone. Until they get that I think the PP stays weak.

    Also, why is the 5'10", 190 lb Callahan the only guy who can stand in front of the net on the PP and do any good. Other than Zuccy he might be the smallest forward on the team, but he is the only guy who can do the dirty work near the crease? Something is not right with that picture.

    Some games I want to hit Boyle with a brick, but why introduce him to another relative?

    They say Tampa won the Cup despite Torts, hopefully the Rangers can do the same.

  • jb said...
     

    Scotty,

    Very sorry. I was torn between saying "The Curse of the Mexican't", the Curse of the Scotty, and the Curse of the Gomez."

    I didn't use Mexican't because I think you coined that one.

    I wasn't really thinking, but now that I'm refreshed I think I should call it the "Curse of the Gomez." Sounds kind of haunting in an Addams Family sort of way.

  • Jen9400 said...
     

    Torts the Play? I love it. Now, you know what would be a HUGE broadway hit:

    Torts the Play
    -written and directed by Sean Avery

    I see a Tony in Sean's future!!!!

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