Don’t want to be a broken record, and I really don’t believe in moral victories, but I thought the Rangers played pretty darn well in this loss, better than they’d played in their previous two games (which were wins). And that’s a darn good point, despite the one that got away.
1) The two goalies were fabulous, but the best player in the game was Brandon Dubinsky. You have to love when he plays like that. Also the way Brandon Prust and Brian Boyle played (again, broken record) and Artem Anisimov, and even Alex Frolov played.
2) Speaking of whom, he really does have to start putting pucks in nets regularly. No more nice-tries.
3) I really expected Marian Gaborik to get one before the game was over. He really came on after Tampa handled him pretty well in the first period.
4) Speaking of which, I think it’s cool that the Lightnings coach is a bit of a throwback in the style of play, and especially in the use of a checking line. Not many do that anymore. Wonder what would happen if John Tortorella used Boyle and Prust and whomever against some of the opponents’ top players.
5) Faceoffs, according to the statisticians in Tampa, were 38-30 in favor of the Lightnings. I thought it was closer than that, and I really do think the Rangers have made some strides in that department since the captain came back … not just because he’s good at it, but I think Dubinsky, Anisimov and Boyle have gotten better lately. Still, they lose a few big ones every game.
6) Sometimes I defend Michal Rozsival, and I didn’t necessarily think he played poorly. But the guy is just so indecisive so often, you have to wonder how that fits into the way they play. Though I did enjoy the way he flung Dominic Moore to the ice.
Saw some of the Winter Classic, too, during Rangers stoppages.
1) Hey, does Gary Bettman know that there were 10 other players on the ice getting in the way of the game between Alex Ovechkin and Sid the Skid? Everything I had seen leading up to the game led me to believe that it was going to be just those two.
2) Very, very cool: The shot from the blimp. Indeed, that might be the way to televise hockey that the NHL has always been seeking. Get rid of all those hanging scoreboards and put a camera in the ceiling above the red line and show most of the game from up there.
3) When the rain was making the playing surface slush, Pierre McGuire compared it to the ice at the World’s Oldest NHL Arena. Ouch.
4) You really couldn’t hear the large crowd because it was so far from the ice, but you could hear the Penguins fans whining on every call and non-call, like they always do.
5) Love the throwback Capitals uniforms.
Will have pre-game notes for Rangers-Panthers later.
AP Photo, above.