First, this is what I hear: That despite the crisis nature of last night’s game … and the crisis isn’t over until the Rangers follow up their 5-4 shootout win over Washington with some sort of string of victories … I keep hearing that Glen Sather is not and was not close to making a coaching change. That is what I hear. I don’t know if that’s absolutely certain, because trying to talk to Sather is like trying to get a sitdown with the Wizard of Oz. But part of me believes he won’t panic and fire Renney unless it gets a lot worse.
Some thoughts on last night’s game, which was sure better to watch than the previous five, regardless of the outcome of the skills competition that decided it:
1) The Rangers attacked, they went to the net — Markus Naslund’s sliding goal a great example of what can happen when you do — got a couple of rebounds, countered effectively and aggressively. They got it started with back-to-back fisticuffs (we used to call that “synchronized fighting” in the pressbox) and banged all night, and it was like old-days hockey in a lot of regards.
2) That Alex Ovechkin is a monster. People compare him to a young Mark Messier, and he absolutely is all of that with more of a pure goal-scorer’s skills than Messier had. That combo of speed and strength and mean and skill is rare indeed.
3) That said, the Rangers did a pretty good job on him, and when the three stars were announced I thought Paul Mara should have been at the top of that list. He was in Ovechkin’s face all night long, and Ovechkin in his. The big guy didn’t score until the skills competition (he didn’t put on his hat and sunglasses for this one). Callahan defintely earned the star he got, but Mara should have gotten one. I don’t normally pay much attention to that post-game tradition because the selection process is pretty flawed, but this time I thought it was pretty clear who did the best job during the first 65 minutes.
4) Just wanted to let you guys know that the Renney Line Generator posted in the comments yesterday was a huge hit at the Garden last night, especially among the media. So simple, yet so hysterical.
5) Renney should pull five names out of a hat and make that his No. 1 power-play unit, because nothing else works. The silliest, most shocking moments came before and during a 5-on-3. The Rangers were on the power play when a delayed penalty against the Caps was signalled. They still threw the puck around, trying to make a play rather than just giving up the puck to get the two-man advantage. It must have been 12-15 seconds before Scott Gomez figured it out. You give up the puck in that situation to get a whistle and a longer 5-on-3. Then, with the two-man advantage, a Zherdev pass between the point men, Rozsival and Redden, went right between them and down the ice. THAT CANNOT HAPPEN!
6) Fans screaming “SHOOOT!” don’t help.
7) What ever happened to Sergei Fedorov?
8) I still hate the shootout.
Pretty busy the next couple of days, so I don’t know how often we’ll be posting. But we will have the usual running commentary for tomorrow night’s game in lovely middle-of-nowhere Sunrise, Fla., and of course an early (12:30) gamer for Rangers-Flyers from the Garden Sunday.
Everyone skated at practice today, which means Kalinin is likely good to go. Whether Renney goes with that time-honored tradition of not changing a lineup after a needed victory remains to be seen. That can’t bode well for Prucha, obviously.
Sean Avery’s AHL debut is still tentatively scheduled for Saturday. Not official yet.