Longtime bonehead and frequent contributor Stranger Nation (SN) has taken the initiative and wrote a review of last night’s debacle. I can only say that I’m glad I went to bed after the second period, although, I’m sure you guys felt even more sick than I did.
Pits 7 – NYR 2
1. After last season’s run to the Cup, the Dirty Birds have resumed their role as enemy #1b (Azzlanders always being #1a and Derbils recently irrelevant, but whatever) [Editor’s note: I hate the Flyers so much more than the Devils or Penguins] as the hated division rival. Many use these games as measuring sticks to assess how your boys in blue stack up against one of the top teams as well as an emotional benchmark of desire and fortitude. Well, suggest not using this game as such a benchmark let alone a barometer of anything of importance including emotional your emotional health.
2. The condensed NHL schedule had your boys in blue playing their 8th in 13 days, 9th in 15 days and 35th in 69 days. With season schedule compromised by the World Cup, the league wide holiday break and the All Star week; the first half has NYR playing almost every day which is great for fans but not so great for game to game adjustments from coaching and players regaining their strength or even catching their collective breath. There is one more game on this recent slate which has the blueshirts getting on a plane to Minny to face the red-hot Wild before the holiday break. One of my favorite coaching axioms is not ‘Practice makes Perfect’, but ‘Perfect Practice makes Perfect’. I wonder what No Practice makes? Probably not perfect…
3. Layered on top of the jammed game calendar is a roster depleted of three top 9 Ranger forwards with Nash pulling or straining the other side of his groin, Zika still in a cast from his ghastly leg injury and Butch penning a new version of Brighton Beach memoirs while receiving secretive back massages and hot oil treatments in little Odessa. But haven’t they been playing shorthanded for some time now? Can’t the emergence of The Mighty Pimple and Wribbit make up for these absences? Uh…no. While those two were involved with scoring the first goal, a fourth line with Pirriwinkle centering those two top 6 wannabe’s is not the checking line you need against star forwards Cindy Crosby (no relation to Gerry), Malkenstein and Amanda Kessel from the Burg of Pits.
4. The recent stretch of solid play has featured the return to form of ‘King Henrik the First’ of Gotham City so surely his royal highness will stem the tide and serve as the backstop required to offset this depleted roster as fans have recently witnessed against the likes of Chitown Native Americans, The Dallas NorthStars and the Motor City Perps. Well…no. AV decided to call upon some yuletide magic and have Rantaa Claus come to town to bring tidings of joy and goodwill to men in blue. Well…he tried. By no means was Rantaa Claus the Grinch for this beat down, in fact, he was probably their best player in a game where 7 goals were scored. In the first period Rantaa Claus was facing danger not seen since the Winter Warlock almost prevented the Kringles from passing through the Mountain of Whispering Wind. No magic corn for the beleaguered Defense was provided as Dancer Girardi was in full melt down mode during this entire affair. Things were looking bleak as Rantaa called for other reindeer but no Nasher, definitely no Dasher maybe a Cupid (Zucc) and Blitzen (Haze), and Rudolph hanging out with Herbie the future Dentist.
5. On Wounded Knee; a new shot blocking technique has emerged which must be encouraged or, at least somewhat tolerated by staff as it is all the rage amongst the D corps. The defender, usually D-man but forwards have been doing this as well, bends one leg in what can be described as a sideways curtsy which does little to nothing to block the shot and may only screen goalie. Buek needs to keep these guys on his skates moving toward shooter with stick on puck. Girardi is the worst offender/defender for this move, but not alone as Holdon, Shea Butter and Staalled practice the art as well. Stop it. Now. [Editor’s note: Fedor Tyutin used to do that a lot]
6. In the middle of the 2nd period, the league’s leading goal scorer and one of the faces of the NHL reverted to a career long tendency to lead the Dirty Birds in plays that cross the line. The knee on knee is the most dangerous of plays in a league of many. Why does Cindy revert to such plays? Not sure, but if you didn’t like Sausage Lips because he plays for Pissburg, now you cannot stand him as a hockey player. No mistake, it was against Grabber who was one of the few able to generate scoring chances. Don’t worry, the fiery Captain McD immediately came over and gave Skidknees a mighty shove not seen since Derrick Brassard left for Ottawa. Grabber already had two break-aways in the period and would eventually score in the 3rd. He has scored 14 goals in 35 games with some dry stretches as he was removed from Haze/Miller line when Nash came back but he is such a crafty player and their best player in game.
7. Isn’t that Special? For the first time in long time, the Special Teams do not come through after a torrid stretch featuring World Class goaltending and smart aggressive play on the puck. Well, without the latter, you can barely survive on the former against an opponent this talented. On the first PP, a 4 minute Ein Kleiner stick to ex-NYR Haggler has over 3 minutes killed when a PK forward tandem featuring Wribbit due to No Nash is on and Cole slaps a pass to Cindy who deflects into goal. Good point by Valley Cat in game review to recognize Wribbit needing to get his stick in passing lane to prevent such a play. Second period PK featured Holden on Wounded Knee, Coach shuffle boarding and Miller Time stiff legged as Amanda Kessel slowly looks for best shooting angle. Rantaa Claus almost stops puck but it squirts through for another PP marker. Third and final PP goal (and goal #6) from a rush around Done G and crease slam dunk by Hornskissed.
8. One of the strongest lines in this recent stretch of solid D has been 2 Swedes and a Slov who was replaced with this Summer’s prize, Easy Peasy Jimmy Vesey. VC has a good stick and great hockey instincts but will never be accused of being in the running for the Selke Award. The bottom 6 has been in a state of flux and needs a veteran presence, ideally a solid defensive forward and PKer who weighs over 200 lbs and can cycle the puck. This current iteration of the 4th line is the Land of Misfit Toys and if Pirri does not score on PP he is basically worthless as he cannot skate. In the second, Oscar had some miscues that led to the goal by Malkinstein. First he let him fly through neutral zone and then lost him in Ozone. Was it a savable shot? Somewhat. But it was a world-class one timer by an android manufactured in Eastern Siberia as part of the Russian sports experiments in the 70’s.
9. Holden/Staal +1 might be the most interesting stat of the night. They were on for the Amanda’s PP goal but Holdon made solid break out passes which result in a clean look by Grabber who lifts it above Murray the Cops shoulder to bring the game back to a one goal deficit at 3-2 in the beginning of the third period. Staal has played a much, much steadier game and Holdon for a 4th rounder is becoming this season’s McD for Gomez/No Gomez.
10. The fourth goal on a “shot” by Sergeant Shultz that deflected in off McD’s skate was a real back breaker after Grabber brought in back of one goal game. Stepsoft skated toward Sergeant Shultz with the speed of a floating iceberg as McD was being jostled in front. By the time the Capt Rogaine almost reached the puck, Sarge Shultz, while hearing nothing, saw a commotion in front and knew enough to shoot the puck on net, deflecting off McDummer’s skate and back to two down. Not one of the young Captain’s games to remember, but carrying around Done G for 25 minutes, providing steady PK duty, trying to create Offense while playing against top lines is yeoman’s work and Yo Man, he did not get it done last night. Another player who needs a break to rest his body and mind.
11. Playing the Dirty Birds in their barn will lead to lots of penalties, mostly against your team. While Kleiner’s penalty was somewhat legit, the Kreider penalty where he was pushed into the Murray the Cop while skating by the crease was a reputation call and Hazy Daze’s high stick should have been neutralized by an embellishment call against Kunitz for acting like he was shot from the rafters.
12. When teams get tired, players tend to revert to bad habits that are in less evidence when they are rested and ready. Personal favorite JT Miller Time was just AWOL in this game. Salmon Joe mentioned he spent time with family the evening before. Well, I hope he had fun because he was invisible in this affair finishing -1, no shots, 1 hit, 1 giveaway in over 16 mins. Hazy Daze was back to his old tricks playing with himself, head down stick handling to his heart’s delight while his line mates floated around and defenders laughed.
13. Finally in the second half of 3rd period, white flag was waving as Pissburg layered insult on to NYR injuries with a meaningless goal at the end with 10 seconds to go resulting from a Shea Butter miscue on a seemingly harmless play behind the net compounded by the Mighty Pimple’s inability to support his D and in a game like this, the biscuit ends up in the basket to heap more salt in this festering wound of a game. Turn the page. Spit happens. This team needs to catch its breath and get healthy! Upward and onward.
1. Rantaa Claus
2. St. Nick Holdon