Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Recap: Ranger win streak ends badly - lose to Sharks 7-3

Well, the winning streak had to end sometime - and end it did. The Rangers were a mess last night - losing to Dany Heatley and the San Jose Sharks 7-3. Your Blueshirts actually jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on goals from Captain Chris Drury and the amazing Michael Del Zotto. But then it was as if we pulled to the side of the road and watched a freight train rumble by. There were 6 unanswered goals and the Rangers basically collapsed.

Here's what happened.

The Goalies. Look no further - the game was lost in goal. Both Nugman and I don't understand why Valiquette didn't play Saturday night in Toronto with Hank starting this one. Tortorella sent Steve out last night with one job - to keep it close enough to let Hank rest one game - and Valli was a complete and total failure. Against a potent Shark offense, the Rangers let up 23 shots in the first two periods and gave their netminder a 2 goal lead. But Steve only made 18 saves. He let five goals get by him. His save percentage on the night was a terrible 72.22%. Things got so bad that Torts had to send Hank out there for period three - so Hank didn't even get a rest. In contrast, Nabokov saved 26 of 29 shots on goal for a save percentage of 89.66%.

You know, the whole idea of resting Hank only works if we at least have a chance not get blown out when he's resting. This was a huge step back for Stevie V. Back in the pre-season I said I'd like to see Chad Johnson get a start in goal - but at least for now we're stuck with Valli. He did pitch a shutout his first time out - but this time he was lit up so bad we had to go to a relief pitcher.

Special Teams: The good news is our power play scored on one of every three chances. The bad news is that we only got three chances all night. And our Penalty Kill gave up 2 goals on 7 chances. So we were outscored here.

The New Veteran Rangers did show some offense - but not enough to keep us in this game. Marian Gaborik was shut out for the first time all season. Boyle and Brashear were each "pointless" players last night and each minus 3 for the evening. Lisin did notch a goal and Kotalik an assist. And that was it.

The Returning Rangers showed some fight. Our Seanny, playing up on the 2nd line grabbed two assists. Drury scored a goal, and Staal had an assist. Avery, Drury and Callahan were positive in plus-minus on the night. But Sean committed 2 consecutive penalties that cancelled any chance at generating positive momentum.

The New Kid Rangers added something as well. Del Zotto got his 4th goal and 9th point of his career. And Gilroy added an assist.

And again the Defense had Offense. In addition to Zot's goal and G-roy's assist, Staal had an assist as well.

But it wasn't nearly enough.

The parallels to Sunday's New York Giants blowout loss against the Saints are downright eerie. We scored enough to win most nights, but the defense just couldn't stop the other guys. What remains to be seen is if this is the beginning of a big ugly trend - if other opponents can copy the Sharks and we're in for more of the same - or if Torts can yell his way into righting the ship. I'm betting on the 2nd choice. Look - if you wanted a pure demonstration of what we look like without a hot Hank Lundqvist between the pipes - you saw it last night. We got our three goals alright, but Valiquette was letting in more than 25% of the shots he faced. We can't win that way and we didn't. So now we feel remarkably bad considering we're 7-2, which is something each one of you would have signed on the dotted line for when the season began.

Next Up: That team from Newark which invokes Satan's name will roll their fatso goalie into MSG on Thursday. So a few days of rest and Tortorella yelling his way though practices and then we have to get well again against our most hated rival.

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