Told ya. This game was exactly what I expected … except that it really wasn’t very nasty. Come to think of it, other than the fights in the stands, it wasn’t nasty at all; and as I recall, last year the Rangers played better and played tougher in games that had some growl.
I also thought the Rangers were better than they were in Stockholm, except that their special teams and their penchant for taking way too many penalties, and some guy in a 91 jersey, turned this into a loss — their first according to the NHL standings.
1) Speaking of fights in the stands, I was talking to a security guy, a Nassau Coliseum employee by the way, about all the fisticuffs. He laughed it off. Then he told me he loves this blog. God love him.
2) Boy, oh boy, did No. 17 have a tough night, and so did his buddy on the other side with the “C” on his chest. Somehow Artem Anisimov in the middle managed to have a decent game. Thought there was some effort from both wingers, but neither could get much done … and all of their penalties were penalties, though I doubt that Capt. Callahan’s goalie interference penalty will be called very consistently.
3) Not going to make a big deal out of the calls, either, but the Dan Girardi penalty, the puck was right there, the player’s in front of the net, if Girardi doesn’t play the man there he gets killed. He has to make that play. No choice. And I don’t think it should be a penalty. That, my friends, is pansification. And the Boyle call for delay, well, if the referee who called it really thought that was a penalty, then he could have called it 20 seconds earlier. But if you’re going to let a player freeze the puck — and his glove was not on top of it — then you can’t all of a sudden decide he can’t freeze it anymore.
4) That all said, the Rangers take too many penalties. And Del Zotto’s too-many-men penalty is exactly the kind you can’t take. You could see that the early PKs completely wrecked the planned forward lines the first half of the first period.
5) Rangers power play, with Brad Richards: 0 for the season.
6) Though I think Richards has played pretty well overall in the three games, and he sure has Gaborik going. Or maybe it’s that Gaborik is healthy. He looks, for the most part, like he did two years ago. And if you remember, he was nowhere for stretches of games that year, then, boom, he’d bury one or two and the Rangers would win.
7) And Derek Stepan was better than good on that line in his first shot as the No.1 left winger. Much better than good. You’re welcome, Torts.
8) You know what I saw in the Islanders last night? The 1996 Quebec Nordiques. I don’t know if they will ever be what those Nords became — the Colorado Avalanche — but I wonder if they will still be playing in the same place when they become real contender. I also wonder if the current ownership/management group can get it to the next step, because they’re not there yet. But they sure have boatloads of talent. Hard to praise them for it, too, because they’ve stunk for so darn long they’d better eventually get some top-notch talent. But they have it. They certainly do.
9) Was looking at that NYR fourth line and thinking, what a mess. It has no particular skill or purpose, made up of players who don’t mesh. So Mats Zuccarello is demoted — a move that might give the Rangers the cap room to get a defenseman — and Kris Newbury is called up. At least with Newbury and Mike Rupp, that line might be able to provide some bash. But I’ve got to tell you also that so far Rupp has underwhelmed me; not nearly the player I thought he was (again, so far). And about Erik Christensen, somebody who knows a lot about the team said, just when you think he couldn’t accomplish less in a game, he goes out and does.
10) Not sure I understood John Tortorella’s whole mea culpa on putting Brad Richards back on the point on the last power play, tied at 2-2. All I know is that in his mind, that decision somehow led to the Girardi penalty, which led very quickly to the winning goal, and I respect the coach taking responsibility for messing up, even though few probably realized he had.
11) Thought that this was Jan, er, Tim Erixon’s best game. But, geez, the depth of the Rangers’ D doesn’t look so great. I mean, last year they used four guys mostly. Now two of them are hurt, which puts way too much pressure on the two still standing. Michael Del Zotto was pretty good, other than his penalty and a couple of missed nets. Steve Eminger and Jeff Woywitka struggled badly.
My Three Rangers Stars: 1) Marian Gaborik. 2) Derek Stepan. 3) Ruslan Fedotenko.
AP photos, above.