1) It’s funny how we critique these games sometimes, that we pick at how well or poorly played they might be, and always with the caveat that “it’s the Islanders.” I think John Tortorella said it right last night, that when the Rangers and Islanders play, it’s always a “screwed-up” game. So take your four points and move on. The Rangers probably played better against Pittsburgh on Monday than they did on Long Island on Thursday. Which result would you rather have had? And how bad a loss would that have been Thursday at Nassau if they played that way and didn’t win?
2) Some guys who played much better Friday: Anisimov, Frolov (whom Butch Goring was calling “Frolik” on the Islanders broadcast)—maybe there is something to that fourth-line sparkplug—definitely Staal and Girardi, Dubinsky, Stepan.
3) Some guys who were darn solid right through the home-and-home: Del Zotto and Rozsival, Gaborik and Avery, Callahan, Prust, Boyle.
4) If you’re an Avery fan, you have to like that the newer, kinder, gentler John Tortorella got his back up when it was suggested by a reporter that Avery had fallen off the discipline wagon. This is what Avery is, and if you’re going to punish him for what he did last night, then you’re going to lose him. You will get the 2009-10 Avery, and you don’t want that. I do think that Avery didn’t need to take that misconduct. That’s where he needs to zip it, especially when he’s playing first-line minutes. Those minors he took, and all the aggravating he did, you accept that whole package.
5) Boy, do we spend a lot of time talking about this one guy, No. 16.
6) The Rangers have established this down-low style, and it works for them. But two things. First, they need to learn, and are learning, that the puck eventually has to come back to the front of the net to create offense. Second, it looks sometimes that the power play is trying to play the same game, when the puck should be moved much more so out in front of the goal line. You don’t want to kill the two minutes cycling.
7) And maybe this should have been No. 1, Marc Staal has really shown late last season, during the preseason, and so far through this season, that he’s got very good hand skills in close, that he’s got a good shot from the point, that he can go back-hand. Look at the four goals he scored and, if I recall correctly, the beauty he got in the preseason. There is no reason this guy shouldn’t be able to be an offensive force, too, and no reason why he shouldn’t be able to play on the power play and be the No. 1 D-man everybody expects him to be. And I think he will be all of that. Maybe that’s starting to come.
8) Besides, the Rangers sure are desperate for PP point men after Del Zotto (who is struggling there a bit). I think the move to Stepan there has been fine. I think Staal should get more and more looks there. The one thing I don’t like is Gaborik on the point. He’s too important by the hashmarks, too dangerous there, to waste up high. But he’s good on the point, too.
AP Photo, above.