I’ll get to the pre-game notes later, and I’ll be headed for MSG this afternoon.
Until then, I’ve got one word for you:
1) I believe concentration is at the root of being good or bad on faceoffs. I really do. Some are naturally better than others, and some have better technique. Some just aren’t paying attention. The Rangers don’t have good faceoff men, overall, but they shouldn’t be that bad, either. There is no excuse for the 3 of 16 first period on draws and that put the Rangers on their heels as much as the penalties and the bad plays. This is a team that needs to have the puck to be effective, needs to gain possession and get it deep and go to work. You can’t do any of those things without winning faceoffs. I don’t know if John Tortorella and his staff have had open tryouts—a lot of teams have wingers who are good at draws, better than their centermen. It has to change for the Rangers … and it did change to a large degree in the third period. Is that concentration?
2) Concentration. I didn’t think the little shot Brandon Dubinsky gave P.K. Slewfoot was much worth a penalty. In the pre-wussification days, that stuff happened all the time. Still, Dubinsky has to be more careful, especially after a whistle, especially when it’s been established that he has a thing going with Slewfoot, and had drawn a penalty against Slewfoot earlier. The PPG went in off Girardi. OK, you shake that one off and move on.
3) Conecentration. I know the Rangers want their D-men to play aggressively, but Marc Staal has to know better, while trying to kill a penalty, than to chase the puck all the way to the right point. He can’t. He did. The result was that Slewfoot made a pass to a wide-open teammate, Plekanec, down low, with poor Dan Girardi trying to cover two Canadiens. On TV they raved about the pass, and it was a good one. But Derek Boogaard could have made that pass because nobody was within 10 yards of Plekanec. I could have made that pass. Slewfoot could have kicked that puck to his teammate.
4) Concentration. Wojtek Wolski can’t just leave his man, Kotstitsyn, in the high slot. Can’t just turn away. Did. 3-1. GWG.
5) Good thing Marian Gaborik got through customs in time to play the third period.
6) I know he’s had a lot of problems this season, and he’s not exactly playing with Forsberg and Sakic, but in my opinion, that’s as bad and ineffective as Chris Drury has played this year.
7) I like Newbury’s toughness and willingess. And I’d like to see him get a shot against the Flys tonight. Maybe Weise, too. But who comes out?
8) Henrik Lundqvist was as good in this game as he was in his 1-0 win over Vancouver, or any other game this season. He’s really at the top of his game now. And you had to love it when he went all Hextall there.
9) Tough night for the Sauer/Eminger pair. You know what? You live with that. It’s actually remarkable that their young D pairs haven’t had more nights like that.
10) Based on the way this season has gone, I fully expect the Rangers to have a strong, strong game tonight. But if they don’t, if they get beaten again, and especially if they get beaten and have trouble scoring again, is this the first little crisis in a while?
11) That too-many-men penalty against the Rangers. That looked like a bench-clearing brawl breaking out.
12) How does the NHL justify not suspending Alex Burrows for trying to neuter Staal the other night?
13) Now this was a game the Rangers couldn’t win 1-0. That’s 11 actual goals scored in the last eight games, not counting the “awarded” shootout goal.
AP Photo, above.
Hey, Boneheads, one of your own donated a prize that I want to give away. I need an idea for a contest we can have … it has to be something in the next week or so. Any ideas? Otherwise I’ll come up with something simple.