That said, there were a lot of positives, including the PK early, then the PP, mostly Gaborik getting going and the offense in general getting into gear, and the Rangers needing to win because they’d lost three of four, and because they were beginning a difficult stretch of five in seven nights, including the next three on the road against decent Southeastern teams.
Of course there were gargantuan negatives, too, those being the injuries to Brandon Dubinsky and Ruslan Fedotenko. Some thoughts:
1) I happened to walk into MSG at the same time as Gaborik last night. He was signing autographs, a lot of them, and doing so in a very friendly manner, and as he was done and stepped inside the entrance, some clown hollered at him,“Score a byfuglien goal!” Gaborik told me he heard it. He smiled and shook his head. It bothered him. Some fans just really make you scratch your head, don’t they? This guy must have been a jackwagon.
2) Gaborik has 10 of his goals in three games … against Edmonton, the Islanders and Toronto. So there’s a “Yeah, but.” Yeah, but … nobody scores 40 without having a few big games, and nobody scores 40 only against the good teams. How many times do you suppose Phil Esposito, or Mike Bossy, or The Great One or Mario Lemieux lit up the Golden Seals or the Kansas City Scouts or the early Devils or the early Mighty Ducks? Yeah, but the Rangers need him to score more consistently, and to score in those close games with the Flyers and Penguins and Canadiens. He knows that. Everybody does. He understands that. And he cares a lot more than people understand.
3) I’m not going to say anything bad about Colton Orr because a mutual friend keeps inviting me to play golf with him in the summertime — I haven’t been able to do it yet — but the last thing I want to do is ruin a round of golf by getting the bejesus kicked out of me. But I do think he might get suspended for that vicious, needless, senseless slash on Steve Eminger. I say “might” because I thought plenty of other hits and things this year should have resulted in suspensions and didn’t, most recently P.K. Slewfoot.
4) The Dubinsky injury really came out of nowhere, and it really is a big one. He’s the team MVP this season, to date, and probably, IMO, more irreplaceable than anybody but Henrik Lundqvist, and that includes Gaborik or Marc Staal or Ryan Callahan. Another bad side is that — I’m no doctor and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night — with a stress fracture, I think rest is the prescription. Which means that when he’s ready to resume skating he will have to go slowly, and that means his conditioning could be an issue, unlike those guys with broken hands and such. And it might mean he won’t regain his form for a while after he does return. (I was really looking forward to him vs. Ovechkin again next week. And do you think the Caps will be just a little frisky for that game after the other 7-0 game this season?).
5) If Avery-Anisimov-Gaborik didn’t work, my suggestion would have been Prust-Boyle-Gaborik. I would still like to see that at some point. I just think those two guys go get the puck the way Avery does, and they’re pretty good at getting pucks to the front of the net, only they don’t have a sniper there when they do. Plus Gaborik would be better protected physically, and better protected defensively.
6) I’m going to work on the contest results later on. One Bonehead had Rangers 7, Leaves 1. I imagine he/she was rather ticked that that goal was disallowed, though correctly, or that Lundqvist didn’t give up one. So it goes to the first tiebreaker, which was GWG, and since multiple Boneheads had Gaborik, it will now go to the second tiebreaker, Rangers shots. So I have to sift through a few hundred comments over the last two days. Or I could just give the tickets to Sally.
7) The Leaves are really, really awful, and they sure do define the term “gliding” in their play, and they kind of threw up the white flag really early. Too bad the Rangers are done with them.
8) The Rangers roster really looks rag-tag right now. I thought it was good of John Tortorella to heap props on Ken Gernander and the coaches in Connecticut for having so many bodies ready when needed. It’s pretty amazing (or sad) when a team is desperate for Erik Christensen to return, or praying Steve Eminger isn’t hurt too badly. And when some of the mainstays are named Dale Weise and Kris Newbury.
9) I wonder if that whole game might have looked different if A) the Rangers hadn’t killed those early penalties, B) Gustavsson hadn’t lost his stick.
10) Brian Boyle=Monster.
11) Sign of the times. Normally when Toronto visits, the pressroom is full of media from North of the Border. Crawling with Ontarian writers. This time there were only a handful. A lot of newspapers are cutting back on travel, among many other things. Too bad. The upside of that is: More pressroom chicken parm for me.
AP Photo, above.
Back with pre-game notes this afternoon. Until then, do your research on Brodie Dupont and Chad Kolarik.