Monday, March 8, 2010

Rangers get the point – but they are also missing the point

G-brick. J-kinen. That's what their names look like with the "O" removed. And the Rangers have been missing the "O" – the offense - since the midpoint of the Penguin's game – the last time we scored an even strength goal. As a result it is us who are getting crunched in crunch time – and we have now lost three straight games when we desperately need to win to move into playoff position.

We got another point from another loss - which is better than no points. But as we sit in 10th place with our season winding down - I'm starting to wonder if the Rangers are missing the point about getting the point. It’s good to get something out of a loss – but if we don’t start winning soon we’ll miss the playoffs.

They are playing hard. We see emotion and intensity out there. We out shot, out hit, and out “face-offed” the Sabres. And we are just about hanging with the top teams in the conference. But the time for style points and good efforts are long gone. We need wins. We have teams to climb over to qualify for the playoffs. And there are plenty of other teams that are trying to climb over us at the same time.

The Sabres remind me of us 4 years ago. They got the hot Olympic medal-winning star in goal. They can't score - but they can defend. The US Olympic-star goalie Ryan Miller was perfect in goal. But in the last 3 minutes we countered with our own Olympic Ryan - as it was Callahan who shook off fatigue - took the puck across both blue lines on his own - cut to the net - and drew a huge penalty. In the ensuing 5 on 4 Dubinsky swung at a loose puck in the crease and got just enough of it to tie the game - and rock the Garden.

But OT has been a nightmare for the Blueshirts this year. Patrick Kaleta - a new face in a long line of Ranger Killers (does anyone remember Druce?) Kept scrambling for the puck and banked it off of Henrik from an nearly impossible angle.

Hank - to his credit - felt or sensed the puck rolling up his leg as he lay on the ice - and tried to roll his pad to keep the puck in play.

But no - it trickled into the goal and the Rangers fell – hard – by a score of 2-1 to Buffalo.

The Goalies: Lundqvist was very good. Miller was better. Ryan made 35 saves on 36 shots. Lundqvist made 30 saves on 32 shots.

Special Teams: We won this battle (editor: but we lost the war). We scored on the games final powerplay - going 1-2, while stopping both of the Sabres' chances. Of course this also means we haven't scored an even-strength goal in about 2 and a half hours of ice time.

The New Veteran Rangers - No goals. Olli did get an assist on the Dubi goal. And Jokinen continues to hustle out there - and he creates and takes shots - a rare commodity on this team. Gabby does not look like Gabby. Is it injury - or something else - or both?

Your Returning Rangers were the whole show - what there was of it. Ryan Callahan nearly took it end to end - as the third period was winding down - drawing the penalty that gave us the chance to tie the game. And Dubinsky's diving swing at the puck got just enough of it to edge it over the line and get the Ranger to Overtime.

The Kid Rangers - Del Zotto had an assist on the lone goal.

Defense on Offense? Redden shot the puck wide.

In conclusion: It ain't over til its over - but this year's team has shown a few (bad) tendencies:

We give up the late goal.
We lose in OT
We score just enough to lose.

Good to see Gabby back – but he’s got to get up to speed in a hurry. I was very interested in Tort’s idea of playing him on the Avery line. That – along with Cally on the top line – could give us 3 lines with scoring – and you know Sean can deliver Marian the puck in good spots. But as the game wore on – Gaborik was returned to the top line.

No use crying over spilled points – we have to regroup and find a way to win. Maybe a game against someone who isn’t a top 4 conference team would help...
Next Up: ...but we don’t get that luxury. It’s the Devils on Wednesday. Circle the wagons.
Where we stand: 9th place officially. But Atlanta is one point back with 2 at hand. And Boston is 2 points up on us in 8th – also with 2 games at hand. We need wins.

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