Saturday, November 5, 2011

Not Much Sean - But Rangers win 5-3

Let's start with the important stuff: Sean Avery played his first game of the season for the New York Rangers tonight - something that one week ago seemed like it would never happen again. No matter what happens next – at least Sean got to pull on that blue and red uniform one more time – got to jump on that Garden Ice – got to hear the faithful chant his name again.

Honestly, Avery seemed a bit rusty – a little tentative – and did not get mixed up in a big helping of the fights and penalties that featured prominently in this hockey game.

All in – Sean played 7 shifts, and had one shot on goal, one hit, and one take-away in 4:46 of ice time. On the other hand – no penalties and no give-aways. If all goes well, he'll get another chance tomorrow.

In other news – the Rangers won a hockey game tonight – 5-3 over the Montreal Canadiens, snapping the Habs 4 game win streak and starting up a 3 game streak of their own.

The Key Stats: Montreal was penalized 40 minutes in a 60 minute game. They just didn't allow themselves enough 5 on 5 to get any kind of offensive flow going – especially early on. Just take a look at their penalties:

1st period
1:24 - Max Pacioretty: 2 Minutes for Boarding 
4:18 - Michael Blunden: 5 Minute Major for Fighting 
4:18 - Petteri Nokelainen: 5 Minute Major for Fighting 
4:18 - 2 Minute Bench Penalty for Too Many Men on the Ice
4:18 - Michael Blunden: 2 Minutes for Interference of 
4:18 - Petteri Nokelainen: 10 Minute Game Misconduct
4:18 - Hal Gill: 2 Minutes for Roughing 
8:21 - David Desharnais: 2 Minutes for Hooking 
10:48 - David Desharnais: 2 Minutes for Tripping 

2nd period:
0:45 - Tomas Plekanec: 2 Minutes for Hooking 
8:17 - Brian Gionta: 2 Minutes for High-sticking 
10:40 - Ryan McDonagh: 2 Minutes for Holding 
14:56 - Yannick Weber: 2 Minutes for High-sticking 

3rd Period:
13:19 - P.K. Subban: 2 Minutes for Unsportsmanlike Conduct

In some nice reversals of recent trends - the Rangers won 31 of 50 faceoffs and led in shots 29-28.

Hits and Errors: The Rangers was out hit by Montreal 25 to 18, and fumbled the pucks 8 time to the Canadiens 1. On the plus side – we led 14-10 in take-aways.

Big Moments:

Brandon Dubinsky had the puck and a free path into the Canadien's zone about 4 minutes into the first period. But when he looked behind him for Rangers trailing the play – Michael Blunden jumped off the Montreal bench and on the ice directly in Dubi's path – actually becoming the 6th skater on the ice in a dangerous and illegal maneuver. Brandon caught sight of him at the last second – it was still a huge collision – but it could have been much much worse for the Ranger forward. The Rangers stuck up for Dubinsky and in a few moments there were three seperate fights on the Garden ice.

When the linesmen got it all pulled apart – ten separate penalties were handed out. The worst of it for the Rangers was the game misconduct to Michael Sauer – meaning that one of our top 4 defenseman was done for the night after only 1:33 of ice time – leaving an already-depleted blue line unit to have to fill 55+ minutes of defensive ice time with just 5 healthy blue-liners.

After the first period – when the MSG broadcasters interviewed the newly signed ranger defenseman Anton Stralman – I started yelling at the TV:

“Take that TV suit off – pull your Red Pants on - and get out there Strals!”

The melee ignited the Rangers who went on to outshoot their opponents 16 to 3 in the first frame and jump to that (dangerous) 3 goal lead.

Christensen broke the ice on a 5 on 3 that resulted from the Dubinsky blind-siding and subsequent fight. Girardi and Del Zotto added 2 more for the Rangers to lead 3-0 after 20 minutes. Delzi's goal was a pretty one – he made a huge deking move right in the crease to sneak the puck past Price in goal.

In the 2nd period – predictably – when Henrik doesn't see a lot of shots – he gets off his game a bit. The games 4th Canadien shot on goal was put aside by Lundqvist – but yielded a dangerous rebound to Max Pacioretty that was put right back past Henrik from 24 feet out on the left side.

Later on in the 2nd – after an odd-looking penalty on the Ranger Goaltender after Lundqvist acted like a linebacker with a perfect football tackle of Brian Gionta. Less than a minute later Andrei Kostitsyn snapped one in the net from 13 feet out and the Ranger's had squandered 2/3 of a 3 goal lead.

But then, at 18:50 we got a chance to see exactly why Brad Richards is Brad Richards. The top line Center grabbed the puck – maneuvered into position and with one minute 10 left on the 2nd period clock, buried a 17 footer to boost the Ranger lead back to 2.

Still, the 3rd period yielded more chills and thrills as Brian Gionta scored on a twice-deflected slapshot from52 feet and with 1:50 left in the 3rd – we once again had a one goal lead.

Finally – at 19:21 – with the Montreal Goalie pulled for the extra skater – Ryan Callahan tossed one that deflected in the empty net from 84 feet out – and the Blueshirts had a 5-3 win.

Heroes and Zeros:

Anisimov and Stepen each had 2 assists. Christensen – feeling the Avery pressure – had a goal and assist. Cally, Girardi, and Richards had goals, with lone assists for Deveaux, Dubinsky, Gabby, McDonagh, and Prust.

Pipe-Cleaners: Hank stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faces, just topping Price who stopped on 24 of his 28 shots. Hank's .893 save percentage was below his usual average – but the Rangers were down a defenseman.

So all in all – the Rangers got enough offense to overcome a less than perfect night for Hank – and the loss of a starting 6 defensemen for the night. I can't help but thinking that without Brad Richards and his 2nd period goal – we lose this game.

The Red Pants queue it up again tomorrow night – for the last game of this first Ranger home stand – facing the Jets at 7pm.

Good win fellows. See you Sunday night.

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