Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Intent To Blow"? Did Sam Rosen really say that?

Now there's a phrase I never heard Sam Rosen say before.

On Prospal's second goal - after a wild melee around the King's net - the ref originally waved the goal off. But the replay showed the puck went in before the whistle blew. That's when Sam brought up the concept of "Intent To Blow".

What it means, apparently, is that if the ref is showing that he's trying to blow the whistle - that the whistle blowing motion is "in progress" - that in this situation you can count the whistle as already having been sounded even though it hasn't yet. Is that right? What an odd NHL rule.

But "Intent To Blow" is a good way to describe what happened to the Rangers last night. Playing their 3rd game in 4 nights against a hot Los Angeles team, the Rangers were clearly outplayed, especially over the last 30 minutes. In other words, they won in spite of themselves - which is something that never ever happened last year - and is mighty good to see. They won ugly - a 4-2 victory that propels them to an astounding 6-1 record.

For a few minutes - before the Aquatic Birds won in a Shoot Out - our Rangers were in first place - and I was tempted to update our standings (and take a quick photo) - but I've messed up the Nugman's standings too many times before so I left it alone. As a result - the league rules being what they are - we're in 4th place in the Eastern Conference but many points ahead of the 2nd and 3rd place teams (both division leaders).

The third period was something to marvel at. A justifiably tired Ranger club was struggling against a big, offensively skilled, well coached team. The Kings were all over our defenseman and kept intercepting the puck in the neutral zone and sending it back toward Lundqvist. We were outshot 10-1 in the final period. But it was the Rangers who scored the period's only goal.

What we saw in the third period was talent win out. The Ranger's two superstars, Hank and Gabby - took over the game. Lundqvist was brilliant, again, stoning the Kings despite their barrage of shots. Hank still can do this as well as he ever could. But under Tortorella's system - he's only asked to do it some nights, instead of every night. Last night he was asked - and he answered - saving 36 of the 38 shots launched at him.

And Gaborik - what a great player he is. Again with the third period dagger goal. This one was a little bit of play-acting by the lefthander. Gabs reached back to grab the puck - and brought it to the forehand in a slow - almost lazy fashion. It looked like he was planning to circle behind the net or pass to a trailing attacker. But then - in a lighting flash - he fired a wicked-fast rising wrist shot right at the top corner of the goal. The shot stunned Ersberg, the Kings back up netminder, and gave us the big 2 goal lead.

You're not going to outscore a team that outshoots you 10-1 very often. But with guys like Hank and Gabby on the team - the Rangers did it.

Special Teams again were the difference and again the Rangers won out here. We were 2-3 on our own power play, and we were 6-7 on the penalty kill. That is your hockey game right there - despite the fact we were outplayed at even strength. For the season, our PP is now at 26.5%, just about doubling last year's output. And the PK is hanging tough at 86.1%. Overall, with the 2 shorthanded goals, on Special teams we've scored 11 and let up 5, a great ratio.

At the Goalie position we dominated - yet again. Hank let in 2 goals on 38 shots. Ersberg only made 17 saves and let in 4 goals.

Our New Veterans rocked the house once again. Prospal had 2 gaols and an assist. He nearly had a the Hat Trick as Gabs tried to find him for a late empty netter. "Cannon" Kotalik had 2 assists. Boyle had a post-Ersberg-net carom goal against this former team. And, as mentioned, all Gaborik did was throw in a huge 3rd period goal and be a force on the Penalty Kill. There was one sequence where the Gaborik and the shorthanded Rangers dominated the action - almost as if they were the team with an extra skater. (Poor Chris Higgins can't buy a goal right now - but he's working hard and playing well and it will come).

Our Returning Rangers added something to the mix. Hard working Mike Callahan got an assist. Dan Girardi did also. And Rozsival.

And The Kids: Del Zotto, the teenage wonder - another two big assists. This kid is here to stay as far as I can tell. Gilroy continues to play well at the pro level.

The old Rangers would never win a game where they got outshot 36-21. Winning ugly is new for us - and compared to last year, a big difference. Just like the difference between "Intent to blow" and actually blowing.

(The ref's whistle, that is.)
Check out Nugman's recap and awesome in-game lunatic posts in the multiple entries just below this one.

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