If you didn’t watch this game and just saw the score and the boxscore, you might think it was an impressive beatdown. I didn’t think it really was. I thought the first period was lousy, and I didn’t think the second was miles better. But the Rangers did get going, and then Roloson — the goalie who’s going to make a difference for some contender at the trade deadline (huh?) — started letting in softies, and then the Islanders quit.
I thought the Rangers played much, much better vs. Tampa Bay the other night.
1) The start of the game reminded me of some of last year’s home games. I call it the “Scrimmage Speed” malady. You know, you think you’re playing hard, but really you’re only skating at scrimmage speed. And that gets contagious. Before long, several players are going less than full speed, and before much longer, the other team is going faster. I could break down tape and show you dozens of away-from-the-puck instances of guys going scrimmage speed and getting bitten by it.
2) Girardi and Staal, the shutdown pair, sure made it easy on the P.A. Parenteau goal … got beaten in a footrace by one of the worst skaters in the league. In fact, the shutdowners were pretty far off for almost two periods. And, if you want to take it a step further, Michael Del Zotto hasn’t done anything lately as bad as what Staal, Girardi and Michal Rozsival were doing in the first half of the game, and he’s found himself in the pressbox.
3) Just moments before the Gaborik PPG, the kid, Derek Stepan, playing the point on the power play, made as good a play on a 2-on-1 Islanders break as any Rangers defenseman has made on a 2-on-1 all year, taking away the pass and forcing the shot. And Henrik Lundqvist made a heckuva save, when he might have been reeling from the first two goals.
4) For the calendar year 2010, the Rangers went 27-25-8 at home (which is really 27-33). And that ain’t nearly good enough.
5) There have been shenanigans in the pre-game warmup of every Rangers-Islanders game this season, and the NHL continues to just look the other way and wait for a complete brawl to erupt … because until they put officials on the ice, or at least at the benches, during warmups, a pre-game melee is coming. No doubt, it’s coming.
6) They ought to take the clip of that Brian Boyle goal and use it to teach kids how to lower the shoulder and burst around a defenseman, and to teach kids and professionals alike how not to do too much with the puck once you get around the D-man; just get it on net and watch what can happen.
7) Here we go. The Rangers are either A) going to trade Del Zotto or B) showcasing Gilroy for a trade. That’s typical knee-jerk reaction and rumor and speculation. I don’t think they want to trade either one. Why wouldn’t you want to keep two young puck-moving defensemen? I think Tortorella likes both of them, and is putting them through the learning process. Don’t get me wrong. If the Rangers can make a great deal with either one, or anyone for that matter, in the trade, they do it. But I seriously doubt they’re actively shopping either guy.
AP photo, above.