Before we get to the review, which has been graciously provided by E3, I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Also, as Carp would say, if you’re drinking today, don’t even think about driving. Finally, as Chris Drury would say, I’m not going to let last night’s loss ruin my Thanksgiving.
And now, for the review:
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. This is perhaps my favorite holiday. For me and my wife, it gives us a chance to catch our breath as we gear up for the last two weeks of lecture leading into final exam week It is a quintessentially American holiday. And no doubt, as a nation, we need that unity. It’s about family, friends, food, spirits, sports, and relaxing. It’s about being thankful. This Thanksgiving, my in-laws are visiting, and as a Ranger fan, that is bad news. For one, I don’t think in the 20 plus years we’ve been together, our sexy boys have won a single game while they were visiting. This includes every playoff series ending game since 1995. For another, my morther-in-law has such a lovely habit of talking incessantly during the game that I pine to listen to Steingerwald and Errey, two of the biggest homers in all of sports broadcasting. Under normal circumstances, I’d rather shove a hot burning poker in my ears than listen to those two bozos. But really, I’m thankful for so many things. Really. Onto the game.
1) All things considered, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln? Ugh. When your team is in danger of having fewer shots on goal than the other team’s actual goals, you know it’s not a good night. “Oh E3” said my father-in-law, “the Penguins scored again.” A few minutes later, “Oh dear! They scored again!”. A few minutes later, when the Penguins feed was showing a replay of some of the Penguins 6 goals, my father-in-law, thinking it was live play, noted wryly, “I don’t think they’re going to come back from this.”
2) It started off well. Rangers took a 1-0 lead, five seconds into their first power play. Stepan won the draw cleanly, back to McD who shot into a crowd, and as the puck kicked off Kreider’s skate, Rick Nash was Johnny-on-the-spot, poking at it twice before lifting it over last year’s wonder-boy Matt Murray. Things were looking up.
3) That was the end of that. The first period was a tight checking affair, and while not the most interesting game, the play on the ice was more or less balanced. Henrik made several outstanding saves. I was hoping Raanta would start, because I felt he deserved it after an outstanding game on Monday night but Hank was solid. The Penguins outshot the Rangers 10-7, and had the better chances. But Henrik stood tall, and the Ranger’s escaped the first period with a 1-0 lead.
4) The first period featured Sid Crosby, one of the most feared pugilists since Petr Nedved, taking exception to what I felt was a clean check by McD on Cream Sherry. Bang Bang along the boards. Sherry was in the wrong place at the wrong time as McD laid a nasty hit on him. The refs saw it differently. Namely, a five minute major for boarding. Sid grabbed McD by the shoulders and tossed him to the ground like a rag doll. Without a doubt, one of the most embarrassing moments in McD career to date. Few punches were thrown, if any, and Sid was given 2 for roughing.
5) The Rangers killed the 3 minute penalty without much incident. I really like their PK. Ready to fly the zone, this Ranger team looks to score at the drop of a turnover.
This year, a quarter of the way in, the second period has been the Rangers’ best so far this season. I, as I’m sure you were as well, expected a big push in front of the somnolent crowd. I miss the raucous days of old. The Garden used to be lively place to see a game. Great energy. The players were able to feed off the crowd’s passion making it tough on the visiting team. Sadly, not so much in recent years.
6) Rangers had chances to increase their lead particularly Nash, who was stopped several times by Murray. Interesting situation in Penguin land. MAF and Murray are both #1 goalies. There is only one net to defend. One of them has to go. MAF has a big cap hit making him more difficult to move, but Murray is younger, better, and clearly the future.
7) The lead lasted two minutes and two seconds into the second period, as Phil Kessel wheeled to the right of Henrik, throwing a centering pass to Scott Wilson, who had snuck behind JT and VC. I’m not sure what they were doing, but it sure wasn’t being attentive to the play around them. Score tied 1-1.
8) Less than three minutes later, Crosby tipped a shot from Cole to make it 2-1. Hank had no chance. In fact thereafter, the Rangers had no chance. The Pens scored 5 second period goals, Hank was chased, and the Rangers’ thoughts seemed to be ‘come to fight and run away, live to fight another day’.
9) You can’t really blame Hank for any of the Pens’ goals except Kessel’s shot that was high glove side, short side, from the right dot. Bad luck? Perhaps, but it seems like Hank has been victim of a lot of bad luck going back to that storied run to the finals three years ago.
10) After two periods, the Rangers trailed 5-1 and were outshot 21-13. Worse was the fact that the Rangers went the last seven or so minutes of the second failing to register a shot on goal.
11) Bracing myself for a loss, I thought if the Rangers came out hard in the third scoring a couple of quick goals, we’d have ourselves a game.
12) And was I ever surprised. Not only did the Rangers not score quickly, they went about 22 minutes between their 13th SOG and their 14th. Oh well, ring the bell.
13) Poor effort across the board. why didn’t anyone get up in Crosby’s grill after tossing McD to the ice? Rangers had back to back PPs with the score 2-1 and didn’t establish much zone time set up and never threatened to score. Different game had they tied it at 2? Perhaps, but I doubt it.
14) It was so bad late in the second that the Pens controlled the puck in the Ranger’s end for almost two minutes and about three line changes before scoring making it 5-1. As Raanta pulled the puck out of the net, he was the first Ranger to have touched it in that span. Incredibly weak effort.
14) Much blame to go around. Shay had a horrible game and his failure to clear a puck in the second directly led to a Pens’ goal. No forecheck. No sustained pressure. no crisp breakouts, no zone time, not much of a physical presence, no effort. Next game. Let’s hope.
15) Rick Nash is having an excellent season. [Editor’s Note: Daily Nash-O-Meter: excellent] He certainly isn’t relied upon like in past years to be “The Man” and I think that fact has helped him to relax and as a result he’s playing big time hockey.
16) What to do with Hank and Raanta? There is little doubt that Hank is #1, but the team plays much better with Raanta in net. Tonight would have made little difference, but who starts next game?
17) I’m confident that this minor hiccup will be fixed. However, Zbad and Boosh are integral players on this team and while injuries are part of the game, these two new faces are what has helped turn this year’s team INTO this year’s team.
18) Calling Derek Stepan. Hello is anyone home? Second highest paid forward is not playing up to his cap hit. He needs to be better. He needs to score goals other than empty netters.
19) Calling Jimmy VC. Hello is anyone home? Such a great start. But he is only a rookie. Playing more games in a shorter time frame than at Harvard, for sure, but he’s young and full of energy and he has a high hockey IQ. He needs to keep attacking the net and not back down. No doubt that he’s the real deal and hopefully he’ll have a long prosperous career as a Blueshirt.
20) At least Girardi is playing better than last year. McD is playing better too. I like Holden’s game. Staal has been good. Shay is young and getting better. So, there’s that. We cannot expect 5 goals a game every game. But we should expect a better effort at home against a bitter rival and defending Stanley Cup champions. What a difference two days makes.
21) It’s on to Philly and let’s win there. Remember its a 1pm start for all my East coast bruthas and sistas.
My Three Ranger stars:
3) Piree [Editor’s note: really?]
RR2’s Three Rangers stars:
1) Rick Nash
2) Michael Grabner
3) Derek Stepan
Your Three Rangers stars:
1) Rick Nash
2) Michael Grabner
3) Annti Raanta