You can blame this one on the injuries and the minor-league roster, but that wouldn’t be accurate, because the way the Rangers played, they would have lost even if they’d had most of their injured players. They didn’t play the way they have played most of the season, and the way they will need to play because of who’s out and who’s in.
1) This kid Chad Kolarik (by the way, how is that pronounced Caloric?) didn’t look out of place at all. He has some skill, he played in the dirty areas of the ice, took and gave. I wonder, if he’d had the luxury of being Rangers property during training camp and auditioning for the Rangers coaches, if he might have not been here sooner. Now it will be interesting to see how he follows up, and if he can stay a while. He will definitely get some minutes tomorrow.
2) Brandon Prust=Monster. You have to love what beats inside this guy, and he doesn’t hurt the team anywhere on the ice. That said, he can’t be fighting unnecessary fights with that bad hand and bad shoulder. Especially if it’s just to try to light a spark in a 3-0 game. I understand the Rangers want to play to the buzzer, to grind it out, to never feel out of a game, to feel they can come back — and that Prust embodies all of that. And I understand that often they have been sparked by some rough stuff. But, still, maybe sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war. Maybe Prust has to think, ‘It might not be worth it to fight in this situation just to give the team a jump-start.’ Then again, Prust may not be programmed to think that way. That’s why so many have become Prustbyterians this season.
3) Oh, and he also had the Rangers’ only goal and another breakaway.
4) The defensive play was non-existent, and the play of the defensemen was lousy. It started right off the opening draw when Dan Girardi ice the puck, and continued in a pond hockey first period. Girardi made a wonderful sweeping play to keep a puck out of the net in the first, but otherwise was awful, awful. He failed to tie up his man on the power-play deflection, and had a couple of big cough-ups. McDonagh and Sauer and Eminger had bad moments. And the forwards coming back — Anisimov and Stepan and others on various occasions — didn’t help much.
5) I think what was missed on TV was why Sean Avery was slashing Erik Cole late in the game. I could be mistaken, but I think it was because somebody — perhaps Cole — took a run at Avery or Anisimov at the blue line. And if that’s what happened, then good for Avery.
6) I liked what Marc Staal was doing in the third period, when it was 3-0. He realized it doesn’t make any difference if you lose 4-0 or 5-0 or 6-0. And he went deep into the offensive play shift after shift. Very Leetch-like.
7) Kris Newbury has won some faceoffs, and is tough as heck, and I’m wondering if he might stick around even after guys get healthy. They sure could use a little more muscle with Derek Boogaard pretty much done.
8) Hard to gauge if the Rangers were better on faceoffs last night, though, because the Hurricanes are just as bad at them.
9) That Jeff Skinner can fly and has all sorts of hands and skill and instincts. Must be a blast to watch down there in Hockeytown.
10) And I’ve said this before, Carolina is going to be heard from in the Eastern playoff race. Somebody who’s in the playoffs now is going to be knocked out by the Hurricanes.
11) Marian Gaborik went from four goals against a bad team and bad goalie(s) to zero against a good team and a very good goalie. But I’m not saying 1+1=2 in this case. I thought Gaborik did a lot of good things in the offensive zone in this game. I really did.
Still haven’t heard from Matt, the winner of our contest. So, Matt, if you actually exist, I need you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’re on the clock. Otherwise I have to pick a winner from between the two Levs. Or give the tickets to Sally.
AP Photo, above.