Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Captain and the Kid – both let the Rangers down

That makes 3 games all season without Marian Gaborik. And all three were Ranger losses. Last night the Blueshirts without their goal scorer – could not score - except for a 5-on-3 powerplay.

They fell 2-1 to a Nashville Predator team that had played the night before while we rested. And in the process we wasted an all-too-rare great performance by Henrik Lundqvist.

But worst of all was the play of the Captain and the Kid. Drury was given Gaborik's top line slot - and made the least of it. And Michael Del Zotto looked every bit the inexperienced teenager out there last night. One day after the Rangers’ charity Casino Night - our rookie defenseman went double or nothing on a 2 minute minor – parlaying one penalty into a double minor by yelling at the referee - resulting in a power play that put the Rangers in a hole. It wasn’t that deep a hole – but still – without Gaborik we couldn't dig out of it. Here are the grim details:

The Goalies: Hank was brilliant. And it wasn't enough. He stopped 34 shots. The first goal was a wicked deflection through traffic. And it took a 4 minute powerplay and a failed clearing attempt for him to yield his second goal.

Nashville’s Ellis stopped 37 of 38 shots.

And that was the difference.

Special Teams: It took a 5 on 3 for us to generate our lone Ranger goal. We were just 1-6 overall on the man advantage. The Predators were 1-5. So about even here. One more PP goal would have sent this into OT.

The New Veteran Rangers - The biggest deal was the guy not playing. But Jokinen made a great play to keep the puck in the offensive zone with the Rangers on the powerplay that lead to the goal. Olli got the assist and Prospal got the goal.

Your Returning Rangers let us down yesterday. No other way to say it. Dubi and Cally should be able to produce something at even strength - especially with Jokinen centering for them. But it just wasn't happening and so Tortorella broke the line up.

And Drury. Last night was an attempted wake up call from Tortorella. By putting Chris on the top line in place of the injured Gaborik - it was as if John was saying: Here you go Captain - show us you can lead - show us you're worth all that money we're paying you – show us something - anything.

And Chris tried - you could see it - but he just couldn't make anything happen. I'm starting to feel sorry for the guy. He couldn’t even score on a breakaway.

The Kid Rangers - last night Michael Del Zotto showed us why the NHL is not loaded with 19 year olds. Del Zotto got called for a hooking penalty in the second period – got mad about the call - and started yelling at the referee. The thing is - there are not a lot of NHL refs who like getting yelled at publicly by teenagers - so Del Zotto got an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty thrown in on top of the original - for a full 4 minutes of Predator powerplay.

The Rangers gamely killed off 3 straight minutes - but you can only hold out for so long when you’re down a man. Inevitably Nashville scored the game winner - and Del Zotto got an earful from Tortorella when he got back to the bench.

Nothing else from the other Kid Rangers. Anisimov seems to be disappearing before our eyes.

Defense on Offense? There was none.

In conclusion: I like to be positive here. I realize it's hard to win hockey games. I can see that the Rangers are trying. We just can't score.

It's good that Hank is playing better now. There was a long stretch where he wasn't playing that well. It seems like we can never get it all together. When we score we can’t defend. When we defend we can’t score. We've lost 8 of 10 now and the season feels like it is starting to derail. When is that Olympic break getting here?
Next Up:
With the team in a free fall - we get nothing less than the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night. We can only hope Gaborik will be back soon.
Where we stand:
I don't want to look. It can't be good. Seriously – I’ll check tomorrow.

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