Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dawes' Revenge: Flames Cheat and Beat Rangers

It was a missed call,” Ranger Coach John Tortorella said about the blind side hit to the head against Chris Drury in the game's first minute by Calgary's Glencross, “it should have been a major”.

The Ranger Captain (and the team's second shortest player after Avery) went down hard with a concussion, had to be helped from the ice, and did not return. Drury, one of the toughest guys on the ice, was away from the puck when Glencross attacked him and never saw him approach from the side. With Brashear (bad wrist) and Voros (bad player) not in the lineup, the Rangers had no one to police the game – and the refs were no help at all.

And to add injury to injury, Brandon Dubinsky took a slapshot off his hand during a Penalty Kill. The Rangers generally don't disclose their team injuries, so we're left guessing about how much time the two Centers will miss. But coming in to the season we were a team lacking a first line center. Now we're left with the Artem ("Anis") Anisimov, Vaclav (his name's not Vinnie) Prospal, and Brian (large but lacking) Boyle as our only legit centermen.

And you can add Henrik Lundqvist to the injured list, he's missed two straight games with some kind of undisclosed leg soreness. The only good part of any of this is that we've got our biggest days-off break of the season so far – we don't have to suit up and play until Thursday night.
Oh yeah – I almost forgot – we lost 3-1 to the Calgary Flames – despite playing pretty well. We scored late in the first and then the Flames Goaltender shut us out the rest of the way.

Big time payback for ex-Ranger Nigal Dawes, who had assists on all three Calgary scores.

Here's how it happened:

The Goalies: With Hank hurting, it was Steve Valiquette's second straight start for the first time in a long time. Credit the Ranger's for limiting his shots-against to just 22. And fault Steve for stopping only 86.4% of those shots. The Flame's Kiprusoff was the difference, stopping 97% of the 33 shots the Rangers fired at him. No way to sugar coat it – we lost the game in the goalie position and if Hank was in net – this would, could, and should have been a different hockey game.

Tortorella agrees: "It was one of our better games of the year. Our transition was good, our forechecking was good, the power play was good, Kiprusoff was the difference."

Special Teams: We were 0 for 3 on the powerplay and the Flames were 1-3. You can also put the blame here. You very rarely win a hockey game that you lose the special team's battle. The PP got their chances though – and Kiprusoff came up big.

The New Veteran Rangers: There was one assist on the night and of course Marian Gaborik was the man who got it. Plenty of shots for these guys (4 for Kotalik, 3 for Gabs, Higgy, Lisin, and Prospal) but nothing found the back of the net. And for Higgins, his 2 consecutive goals-per-game streak comes to an end.

The Kid Rangers were pointless. But we got a shot from Anis, 4 from Teen Ranger and one from G-Roy. Dane Byers: one hit, no shots.

The Returning Rangers had the lone Ranger (no pun intended) goal from Dan Girardi in the first period. 3 shots from Callahan, 2 from Dubi and Staal.

Defense on Offense: The entire offense (one goal) came from this unit. The defense scored for us – where was the offense?

In Conclusion: As losses go this was a pretty good one (Let me finish!) What I mean is, we outplayed the Flames. We out-worked them and outshot them 33-22. Most nights you'll win a game like that. And most night we'll have Hank and we'll win this game – or at least get it to OT.
The loss puts us at 10-7-1. And I hate to say it, but we need Don Brashear back so that other teams don't headhunt guys like Drury. Next time it could be Gaborik who goes down.

Next Up: Plenty of rest for a team that really needs it. Four big days off to get yelled at by Tortortella and to try and get healthy. And it will be a longer rest for Hank who sat out the last 2 games and who should come back Thursday refreshed, healthy and ready to shut some teams down for us.

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