Friday, March 5, 2010

Rangers get 2 goal lead - Lundqvist makes 50 saves - and we LOSE in OT

Heart breaker. The Rangers led the world champion Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 and chased (hyphen-man) Marc-Andre Fleury to the bench midway through the 2nd period. But we only managed 4 shots the rest of the way while Crosby and company launched 55 shots at Henrik. The Penguins caught us and eventually won out in OT 5-4.

The game winner was a deflection by Olympic gold medalist Jordan Staal. It went past Jordan's brother Marc Staal - and then past Lundqvist - while our dreams of a 4th straight win crashed to the ice like Sidney Crosby taking a dive.

And it was one of Sid's crybaby specials - a sad look to the refs and a flop early in the first that had Henrik Lundqvist steaming. Hank left the crease to let Sid know how he felt about it. Very cool move by the Hank-ster - and it reminded a few of us veteran Ranger fans of Jagr's similar conversation with Sid in Jaromir's last playoff series as a Ranger.

"You don't need to do that cheap stuff Sid - just play hockey like a man"

I'm paraphrasing - and sanitizing - but that's essentially what Jagr said back then and what Henrik said last night. More or less.

The Rangers competed hard and got some scoring - but their offense completely ran out of gas at the mid point. The third period and OT looked like a 20+ minute Pittsburgh powerplay - despite the fact that the teams were at even strength. When Redden got called for hooking in the OT - the Rangers mustered what they could defensively - but ultimately could not give Hank enough help to hold off the Pens.

The best news is that we did get a point - and we've gotten points in 4 straight games without Gaborik. Before the Jokinen trade we had never gotten a so much as a point in Gabby's prior absences.

But as the remaining games fall into the teens - we're still below that playoff line-of-death looking up. We need points. But last night we let one get away. Here's how it happened.

The Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist makes an all time career high 50 saves. But he let in 5 goals. The Rangers didn't do enough to help him - no one should have to face that many shots. So you can't blame Lundqvist.

Fleury was pulled after making just 8 saves on 12 shots. Johnson saved the game - but incredibly only had to make 4 saves to do it.

Special Teams: Our Powerplay was 2 of 3 - pretty good - but in the third period when a goal would have won it - we went 2 minutes with the man advantage without taking a shot.

Our PK had an uncharacteristic breakdown - successfully defending only once in three tries - including losing on the OT 4 on 3.

One more stop would have won the game.

The New Veteran Rangers - Jokinen - still sans-mustache - had two assists and was the one Ranger able to generate a shot on goal in the third. Prospal had an assist.

Your Returning Rangers: Stop the presses - Rozsival had a nice goal - roofing it from close in - and an assist.

Captain Drury had a goal. Dubinsky scored as well. Avery had an assist. Redden had an assist but also took the OT hooking penalty that did us in. On the other hand - Redden has quietly upped his plus-minus to +5, the 5th best number on the Rangers.

The Kid Rangers - We’ve been calling for Anisimov - and he comes through with a rare goal. Del Zotto returned from his long recovery from a slash injury from Malkin’s skate - and had an assist. And Gilroy had an assist.

Defense on Offense? A good night - one goal - and 4 assists. We could have used more defense though.

In conclusion: With an Olympic-charged Jokinen, Drury, and Cally - the Rangers are scoring. But with time running out on our season we need Marian Gaborik to get back out there and help the team. Get well soon Gabs. Or we’re finished.
Next Up: Back to back games on Saturday and Sunday. Both are tough ones – The Caps (with Ovechkin) and the Sabres (with Olympic MVP Ryan Miller).
Where we stand: We’re in 9th – tied in points with 8th place Atlanta – but they have 2 games at hand. And The Playoff Clump lives – just 10 points separate the 6th place Flyers from the 14th place Panthers.

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