Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lost Weekend

Hang in there fellow Blueshirt Brothers – as losses go this was an interesting one. Playing the world champs in their own arena – we may have lost but we did not go quietly. Missing several players – some to injury: Dubinsky and Redden (I know – but just go with it), and some to Tortorella's decisions - Lundqvist and Lisin - our heroes fought as long as as hard as they could – but when the breaks went against them and and the Penguins were just too much, at least we went down with honor. Well, actually we started fights and were sore losers – but that was fun to watch and showed some spirit.

In the end the score was more lopsided than the game really was – we were down 3-2 with ONE SECOND LEFT IN THE SECOND PERIOD before a 56 foot wrist shot from Mark Eaton founds it's way past Valiquette with 0.4 seconds on the clock. Still we fought back with a goal from (and yes I checked it twice) Michal Rozsival 33 seconds in to the 3rd to make it 4-3. But the roof fell in after that, we fell behind, we got in some fights, were penalized, gave up power play goals and in the end it was 8-3. The worst aspect of the evening is that the hated Sidney Crosby got a hat trick on Penguins Hat Night – so the Pittsburgh fan just about covered the ice with hats when Crosby got his third goal of the evening.

The best part of the evening's ugliness was Don Brashear continuing to throw punches around the linesmen who was trying to separate Punch-Man from Matt Cooke. Brash is such a veteran fighter that he landed a few going around the ref's body. And not to be left behind – our Sean Avery collected 17 minutes of penalty time for his fight with Fedotenko.

What I like is the fight – literal and figurative – this team displayed. The Monday night rematch – with Hank back in net and the team at home – should be interesting to watch. Hang in there friends – we got 3 goals and with Hank – that might well have been enough. And sooner or later there are a bunch of guys who will start scoring.

Okay – the unhappy recap:

The Goalies: In a way this game was over when Torts picked Stevie V. But Valiquette hung in there fairly well for a while – making some good saves in the first 39 minutes and 59 seconds of play – where we stopped 20 of 23 shots. But in the end it got worse and Steve let in a terrible 8 goals on 33 shots by the time the night was over. I'm still saying – let's give someone else a shot at the #2 goalie slot. We're not getting enough from Vali.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 22 of the 25 shots he faced – good enough for the win.

Special Teams: Our butts, once again, kicked. Rangers 0-3 on te PP and Penguins 2-7. That's your hockey game right there.

The New Veteran Rangers: Two assists for Gaborik – who was shadowed all night by Penguin defensemen. And assist for Kotalik and Prospal. Mr. Higgins, however, was pointless with 6 shots and a -2 on the night.

The Kid Rangers scored a goal from Matt Gilroy and got an assist from Sean.

The Returning Rangers did well for a change, contributing goals from Marc Staal and Michal Rozsival (!) and assists from Avery and Captain Chris.

Defense on Offense: All three Rangers goals came from our defensemen. Not a bad night. Of course letting up 8 goals takes some of the shine off the accomplishment.

In Conclusion: Well, if we're not good enough to beat the NHL champs in their own building – we've got plenty of company. This was rough 2 days for the hockey club – out two game winning streak now flipped on it's head. But think about it – we've got some scoring – we got some defense and we've got some goaltending. And we've got a coach who won the Stanley Cup. So I think we've got enough to turn this around. But can we do it? That's the mystery of this season.

That and how – with Gaborik and Prospal and a full year of Tortorella – can we be worse than we were last year?

Oh yeah – and why was Lisin benched? And has Tortorella created a rift with his franchise goaltender?

Next Up: Sunday off – then home for the rematch to the Penguins.
Where We Stand. It's bad. We're below the line-of-death in 10th place, tied in points with Philadelphia and the hated Islanders.

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