OK, it was unwatchable. And the Garden crowd was dreadfully quiet—that’s what happens when people buy season tickets and have to sell a lot of them because of the cost, and then cherry-pick which games they’ll attend; but also when the Garden insists on making hockey games in New York City like games in smaller towns where they have to have silly noise-making contests and throw T-shirts into the crowd.
But enough of that. The game, much as it hurt the eyes and offended the hockey senses, was an enormous one for your boys. It was such a big win under the circumstances, and so good for the Rangers to know, and to show, that they aren’t going to succumb to the “trap game” garbage, or to the home-ice woes (which have mysteriously disappeared with four straight MSG wins).
1) That all said, this was one of those games that always remind me what Tommy McVie used to say: They should let everybody in for free and make them pay to get out.
2) Hey, Sky-Is-Falling crowd. Your team has 40 victories. It is 10 games over “NHL .500,” six games over actual .500. It is going to the playoffs. And you’d better believe some of the teams in the top half of the Least would rather see somebody else than play possibly seven games against these guys, especially the Prusts, Boyles, Callahans and Dubinskys.
3) Speaking of which, early in the season the Anisimov and Boyle lines were carrying the Rangers. And now both of those lines are back to where they were.
4) Marian Gaborik lost his point streak, and though he wasn’t great in this game, he created some excellent chances, and that’s a good sign. His line was scary at times in its own end, though. And Erik Christensen wasn’t very good in this one … and continues to be proof that plus/minus is not a defensive stat, and in fact it’s a pretty useless stat altogether. He’s plus-6, tied for sixth on the team, ahead of Dubinsky, Callahan, Anisimov, Prust, Boyle. OK?
5) Another one I thought wasn’t so good was Wojtek Wolski, who appeared to be giving it a full 75 percent effort. He might ultimately make the decision to put Sean Avery back into the lineup a simple one for John Tortorella. This team can’t have passengers, and a mistake/penalty-prone Avery going 100 percent might be better than a Wolski going less than that. Especially against Philly and the Islanders and Boston coming up, and in the playoffs. Or maybe it was just me.
6) I didn’t see the broadcast, but I don’t know if they made a big enough deal of the play Ryan Callahan made on the GWG. Because, in addition to several hard plays by that line down low on the same shift, Callahan then lifted the stick of Keaton Ellerby from behind, stripped him of the puck, looked up, saw he had no shot, and waited for Brandon Dubinsky to arrive at the goalmouth. The steal was better than the pass. Incredible.
7) Callahan=Captain Monster.
8) Henrik Lundqvist really does love this time of year, doesn’t he? He’s such a competitor, and while I’m sure he’d love to have Martin Biron healthy and ready to give him a breather, I’m also sure Lundqvist would want to be playing all of these games now. Every single one of them.
9) I feel bad for the fans of Florida, few as they may be, that they have to watch that crap. The Panthers have some good young players and a great goalie, but it’s going to be a rebuild and it’s going to take a while an dn the meantime the few who show up have to watch icing-icing-icing, turnover-turnover-turnover. Gee, wonder why they can’t get a fanbase in South Florida.
10) One more thing on that piece of cooke Cooke. The NHL hit a triple, almost a home run, finally, with that decision. And Larry Brooks and others made a great point about how repeat offenders now have to be slapped even harder, much harder. Now, if the NHL really wants to get rid of the headshots now … and not gradually … and I am still not convinced the league is ready to do what it takes—they need to start suspending first-time offenders. Everybody should know the law by now. And if they don’t know it, then tell them with a letter to be posted in all lockerrooms and team areas, and make GMs meet with the team to reinforce it. And then, if somebody’s dumb enough to hit somebody in the head, first time, second time, 20th time, suspend him. More games, of course, for repeat perps. But why should first-timers get a pass any longer. Sorry.
11) Man, I’m really praying for Manny Malhotra, one of the best guys not just in hockey, but in the whole damn world.
12) Too bad the Rangers blew those four-point swing games with the Canadiens earlier in the year, because they’d be in sixth place if they’d won one of those they lost.
13) Thanks to Jesse Spector for figuring out that that’s the Rangers’ Magic Number. Thirteen points, and Carolina can’t catch them, meaning they’re in the playoffs. Of course with tiebreakers it might be less than that.
14) Does anybody have any doubt that the Rangers will get two more points tomorrow against the Sens? But they’d better not think that way, and I don’t believe they will.
15) Boy, the junk teams in the Leastern Conference trunk are all winning, too. And too late. That is, except for the Miracle Devils, who are now done like dinner.
AP photo, above.
I might need one more guest blogger to do the review on Saturday’s game against Boston. Anybody interested, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d prefer it to be one of our regular Boneheads.