About Last Night: Rangers vs. Predators

I can’t believe that in this day and age that I was actually able to watch two Rangers games in a row, live.  Granted, one of them was that stinker in Montreal (and by the way, it really shouldn’t be that hard for this team to play there), but still, watching hockey, you know?  Good stuff.

– The one thing that still makes me uncomfortable about this team (other than the power play, which is simply dreadful) is that scoring goals just looks difficult lately.  It’s nice to get scoring from your defense and from a guy like John Mitchell, but man, where is Gaborik?  Where are Richards, Dubinsky, Callahan (he had the “empty netter” last night) lately?

– One thing I will say: the puck possession in last night’s game was a totally different story than Sunday night.  Frankly, Sunday night seems like the aberration.  This team controls the puck better than any Rangers team that I’ve seen in recent memory.  The D is strong.

– I also love how every talks about Hank having a mini slump, two games where he gave up 3 goals or more.  It’s laughable.  This guy is the best goalie in the NHL right now.  He’s in his absolute prime and completely locked in.  I wish the playoffs started tomorrow, because Hank looks like he could take them all the way through by himself.

– I really don’t remember I time where I felt like this game was going to go to Nashville.  And these guys aren’t patsies.  Coming in with the 5 game winning streak, playing sick hockey.  Granted, they were without Suter and Rinne got the night off, but still this is a good team.  And the Rangers made them look slow and small.

– You have to love this quote from Dolan (and I”ll have another post following this about this quote):  “I think we’re pretty close to getting that back.”  He’s obviously talking about the Stanley Cup, but come on.  Do you think this guy even remembers that he owns a hockey team half the time?  I feel like he said “that” because he couldn’t even remember the name of the Stanley Cup and didn’t want to look like a total idiot.

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About Last Night: Rangers vs. Maple Leafs

As we enter the third week of life without the MSG Network, I’m starting to feel a little like Robinson Crusoe marking off the days that he was stuck on the island on the side of a cave wall with a stick.  Pretty soon, these blog posts are going to begin to look like this:

Day 15 without the large rectangular machine hanging on the wall delivering the moving pictures that I’ve asked for.  What do I need to do to get it to give me what I want?  I’ve done all that I can.  For now, we wait.  And then tomorrow, we hope that there will be relief.  A rescue in the form of Brandon Prust or perhaps Brandon Dubinsky.  Or perhaps some other Brandon that has come on the scene since last I saw those Blueshirts of Broadway perform their task.

In any event, huge game last night for the boys, who had already lost twice this year to the Maple Leafs of Toronto (see?  It’s actually leaking into my writing when I’m not trying) and were coming off that ugly performance at the Garden against the Sens.

– The Rangers won the way they have to win: by playing physical from the first drop to the last whistle.  They simply don’t have the firepower to outgun a team.  They need to work hard, push people around, cycle down low and generate some offense.

– Good to see the puck go in the net for Brian Boyle.  You want to talk about a guy that brown bags it to work every single day.  He doesn’t take a single shift off, and it’s good to see it finally pay off in a goal.  I’ve said all along (to myself, because no one else is listening) that if we’re expecting him to score like he did last year, it ain’t going to happen.  But we should expect to see somewhere between where he’s been all year and where he was last year.  Frankly, mainly because someone’s got to score.

– Speaking of Boyle, I’d give him one of my stars last night (I didn’t see who the actual stars where, so I don’t know if he actually got one), but he spent most of his night playing against the Kessel-Lupul-Connolly line and neither Kessel nor Lupul even had a shot on goal.  Kessel’s legitimately in the discussion for the Hart Trophy and the Boyle line shut him down completely.  Good stuff from them.

– Dubinsky missed another game with the shoulder injury.  We keep hearing that nothing showed on the MRI and they’re being cautious, but I hope we don’t hear about this being a dislocation or something more serious in the next few days.  I’d love for him to be on the ice at home against Nashville on Tuesday (another team that’s pretty hot lately, and has Weber back on the ice and producing)

– Biron.  Can’t say enough about a guy who could probably be starting somewhere else, but is a fantastic safety net for Hank.  If Marty can truly take 20 games from Hank (or more accurately, Hank lets him take 8 or 9 more), that’s a really good thing for the playoffs.  This is a guy who’s played in 12 games that has 2 shutouts.

Hoping to have a couple more posts out the door today, assuming there’s something that’s poorly written or stupid in the Sunday sports sections.

About Last Night: Rangers vs. Senators

I’m trying to remember the last time that I actually watched a Rangers game on TV.  It was the Winter Classic.  I was at the game after that.  And everything else has either been on MSG or blacked out on the NHL Network.  Good times.

And to add insult to injury, I was in the air flying home last night, so I couldn’t even get periodic updates on the game.  Based on what I’ve read, this was a game where they came up against an immovable force named (and I’m not laughing) Craig Anderson.  I actually have Anderson on my fantasy team this year, and for most of the year, he’s been totally erratic.  In the last 8 games or so, the guy’s been lights out.  He good run started when he replaced Alex Auld in a game where Auld gave up 3 quick goals.  Anderson came in and didn’t give up another, while he team came back and won the game.  It’s been nothing but sunshine and daisies since then for the Sens, who are the NHL’s new hottest team.

As for the Rangers, you have to hope this is the only game that Dubinsky misses.  It seems like they missed his hustle last night.  I’m not much for “intangibles.”  It’s the kind of thing people say when the player that they like kind of sucks or isn’t as good as they think, so they pull out this bullshit argument that you can’t prove or disprove.  Things like “he’s a good clubhouse guy” or “the stuff he does doesn’t show up on the scoresheet.”  But Dubinsky does embody whatever that type of intangible counts for.  He’s a ferocious forechecker.  He kills penatlies.  He stands up for teammates.  All that stuff means something.  Not as much as actually scoring a goal (or helping someone else score one), but something.

Speaking of not showing up on the scoresheet, Anisimov was shut out across the board last night again.  He’s someone they’re going to need to get back on the scoring train, and really soon, if they’re going to keep up the pace they’ve set for themselves in the first half.

About Last Night: Rangers vs. Penguins

I’d have a whole lot more to say about this game if I’d actually seen it.  Instead, I watched a few episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  Here’s a summary of them:

– Guy drives up to a restaurant that local people love

– He takes three bites of something that has enough calories to feed a small African villages for 5 days and calls it “off the chain.”

– Shampoo, rinse, repeat

As far as the Rangers are concerned, from the sounds of it, they came out completely flat in the first period and badly outshot.  They caught their legs late in the first and tied up the game.  From there out, they played harder, took advantage of some Penguins mistakes and got an all-world effort from Hank, who took home the Broadway Hat (again).

Basically, a 2011-12 New York Rangers win.

You have to wonder when relying on Hank so much may come back to bite them, as it did in their games against the Leafs this year.  And how it might effect them against Boston, who is just beating the crap out of every team that comes their way.

But not today.

About Last Night: Rangers vs. Panthers

It wasn’t the prettiest game last night, but it sure was the same result they’ve ben getting lately.  3-2 over the Panthers last night makes it 3 in a row and 8 of 9, the lone loss being the the stinker that they put up in Washington last week.

Some thoughts:

– I’m not saying that he shouldn’t, but boy, Marc Staal looks rusty.  That pass that got by him on the 2-on-1 that led to the first goal is one that he stops 10 times out of 10 last year.  The good news here is that he’ll have the next couple of month to work this out before they get into the stretch.

– The Rangers looked pretty flat for most of the first period.  I know they outshot the Panthers big, but other than Rupp swinging and missing on the doorstep, I don’t remember jumping out of my seat at the end of the first period.

– I had a title all ready for this called “Big Shot Brad”, but then Biron gave up the softie to tie the game immediately after and the goal was credited to Cally, so there went that.  I still think I want the nickname Big Shot Brad to catch on though, because he really seems to be that guy.

– To me, the three Rangers goals summed up what their whole season has been about:  a ton of hard work (Cally), a good amount of skill (Gabby) and a little luck (Stralman).  That’s what you need to keep winning.

– I can’t really stand the way the refs do these games sometimes.  I thought the penalty on Fedotenko was a real ticky tack call.

That’s all for now.  I’ll have an Around the NHL and a 24/7 wrapup coming a bit later.