Rangers 2, Blackhawks 5.
Nothing better than an original 6 matchup between two storied franchises like the Black Hawks and our NY Rangers. The Hawks in the midst of a 6 game road trip came in to the Garden having been outscored 20-10 in the last five winning only once. That, and third string goalie Tanner Glass in only his second NHL game, was a cause for worry. The Hawks are not a playoff team if the season ended today and while not a must win for the team from Chi-town, a hint of desperation certainly was in the air given their play of late. Combining the Hawks need for two points and our sexy boys atrocious history with back up net minders, I wasn’t terribly optimistic before puck drop. Tonight, true to form my worst fears were realized and our team lost 5-2. With that here’s my review.
1) Jerry Sandusky look-alike Joel Q. has won 3 cups with the Windy City boys. They are a good team despite their record this year. When you have studs like Tays, Kane, Sharp, Saad, Duncan Keith Richards, and Seabrook it’s easy to see why they’re so good. Crawford in goal isn’t too shabby either.
2) Rangers started off well controlling the play and early on had several good chances. Tanner Glass made some good saves and it seemed to settle his nerves.
3) At the other end, Hank was up to the task making several huge saves. Historically he’s played well against the Hawks and probably has one of the better records against them. Hank has really come on since his atrocious early season play and it bodes well moving forward.
4) Chicago scored first. Three Rangers, Shatty, JT, and Smitty allowed Tays to softly pass the puck from behind the net to Hank’s left and were caught flat footed as Hinostroza beat The King to make it 1-0 with just under 4 minutes left in the first. Hank had no chance.
5) Rangers tied it 2 minutes later on a blast from Holden from the right point off of nice passes from Boo to Carey to Holden. Duncan Keith with the excellent screen. Tied at 1 and that’s how the first ended.
6) I was surprised to see that the Hawks outshot the Rangers 14-6. It didn’t seem that lopsided. Perhaps it was because many of the Rangers’ shots either missed the net or were blocked. In any event it was an exciting first period with plenty of speed from both teams. The Rangers had back to back power plays as Tays was penalized twice. Not many good chances but they did have zone time. Their power play has not been as effective as it was pre-Zbad’s injury and since his return it’s still not where it needs to be.
7) I like JT in the first unit. His hustle and effort is far superior to that of Gnasher. JT works his butt off and while still prone to making that ill advised pass, his desire has future captain written all over it.
8) The second period began and the Hawks dominated play for the first 10 minutes. Rangers were having a tough time penetrating the zone. Chicago’s good play was rewarded at the 9 minute mark as Kane made a nice pass to Schmazty breaking in all alone. Hank made a great save and as the puck lay in the paint with Hank off to the right post Marc Staal scored while sliding into the puck pushing it into the goal after a vicious cross-check that wasn’t called giving the Hawks a 2-1 lead. Hank obviously had no chance. How two refs missed the cross-check wasn’t a big surprise. The NHL remains the worst officiated sport of the big four which is really saying a lot given there’s holding and pass interference on every NFL play and traveling on every NBA play. Not sure what can be done. The play is so fast it’s difficult to find fault but there’s clearly a problem. And in this case it hurt the Rangers. Instead of a 1-1 tie and a power play chance, it was a 2-1 Hawks’ lead and 5 on 5 play.
9) The Hawks were controlling the play but a pair of penalties led to a 5 on 3. Mika drilled a one timer just off Ovi’s office to tie it at 2. Zbad has a monster shot and while he was out concussed, he was missed dearly. That right-handed blast is a weapon and going forward the Rangers need to keep feeding him the puck on the PP.
10) After tying the score the Rangers took back some of the momentum and the second ended 2-2.
11) The third period was the Rangers’ best even though they were outscored 3-0. True, 2 goals were empty netters but it was the Chicago’s third goal that made all the difference. A turnover led to a 2-1 break and Patrick Sharp scored a goal scorer’s goal high glove side far side on a shot Hank again had no chance. Rangers lose 5-2.
12) It was an exciting game. The Rangers played well. Hawks were better. I saw plenty of passion and energy by our boys. The PP let them down as they went 1-6. Too many extra passes and too many passes into the skates however. Rangers must lead the league in passing to a player with 3 opponents draped all over the intended recipient. Especially frustrating is the number of times the Ranger player has a good scoring chance but defers to make that extra pass. And the most guilty Ranger is Zucc. He makes more bad passes – giveaways – than good passes. True, he makes a brilliant play on occasion, but too many times he just hands the puck to the other team.
13) I may be in the minority but I’d love to see Evander Kane in a Ranger uniform. Nash for Kane and a pick? I would.
14) The Rangers are a good team and aside from TB, and maybe Toronto, there isn’t a dominating team in the East. The Rangers could and should make a deep run this season if they can fix the PP and Hank continues his stellar play.
My 3 stars: