I do not condone what Artem Anisimov did after that beauty of a short-handed goal put the Rangers up 2-1. You know by now that he went down to a knee, aimed his stick like a rifle toward goalie Mathieu Garon and pumped a few shots.
Certainly not the end of the world, certainly not the worst lack of sportsmanship ever, and not the most crazy celebration (Alex Ovechkin pretending to light his stick on fire; Teemu Selanne tossing his glove in the air and shooting it; Jaromir Jagr and Brian Propp with those pansy salutes; Tiger Williams and Tie Domi riding the broom; even that jackwagon Kaleta on Buffalo doing whatever full-bodied dry-heave he does after goals. The Rangers once went after Vinny Prospal, when he was with Tampa, because of one of his jubilant celebrations.
But do we want this to turn into the NFL, where guys will taunt and cost their teams 15 yards and possessions and games because they just have to dance and taunt and act like idiots (Eagles’ DeSean Jackson, or, take your pick of any dancing receiver, including this clown Cruz on the Giants)?
I don’t. I think hockey is the last bastion of sportsmanship and respect, even if they do knock the daylights out of one another, often with bare knuckles.
I like that hockey doesn’t put up with that bull-carcillo. There’s definitely a taunting line, and by aiming his rifle ay Garon, Anisimov definitely crossed it. If he had fired it at the ceiling, or into the crowd, or anywhere else, I don’t even think it would be mentioned today.
1) A lot of people brought up a good point, that maybe Anisimov’s celebration was somewhat created by all this hype of HBO’s cameras being around for “24/7″ and the guys all trying to be the stars of that show. They sure have been made to be aware, and a lot of them, it seems, have been encouraged to tweet (Anisimov just began his twittering yesterday; see the widget on the right).
2) Trivia quiz: How many officials does it take to screw up a hockey fight? (answer below).
3) They sure got pretty much everything wrong in the assessment of the fracas that followed Anisimov’s mistake. How do Brandon Dubinsky and Marc-Andre Bergeron, who dropped gloves and traded punches, not get fighting majors, How does Vinny Lecavalier, the captain who rightfully went after Anisimov and touched off the whole melee, not get a penalty? How does Anisimov get 14 minutes? How do the Lightnings get a power play? How? How? How?
4) Let’s see if Sherriff Shanahan is as tough as he and his genuflecting fans claim he is, on Steve Downie. Or if the league, as it typically does, leaps through hoops trying to find a reason to not issue the automatic suspension for this clown coming off the bench to join an altercation. Because, even though Dominic Moore may have come to the bench, Downie left the bench and not only joined an altercation, but re-ignited it. Betcha he gets a wrist slap and not the automatic 10 games, or even five. Betcha the NHL front office doesn’t have the onions to enforce its own rule.
5) How about Steven Stamkos issuing threats toward Anisimov later? What’s Stamkos going to do? Hit him with his Rocket Richard Trophy? Stamkos had a chance to get involved in the fracas. He was on the ice. He waited until Dan Girardi was involved with somebody else, then sucker punched Girardi in the back of the head.
6) I was seated next to Steve Yzerman (or Whyzerman if you’re the host of the NHL awards show, Jay Mohr) and thinking, “Gee, I’ll bet nobody fired a rifle at Whyzerman’s Red Wings when they had Joey Kocur and Bob Probert.”
7) I thought John Tortorella did the right thing in protecting his young player, who was aware he made a mistake and apologized to his teammates, who, to a man, thought what he did was wrong.
8) I like the way Brandon Dubinsky reacted in the whole scrum, and I thought he was very, very good on the PK all night — it was his play that created the Anisimov goal. But you can tell he’s still in a funk, and Tortorella tried giving him some PP time to get him out of it.
9) Ryan McDonagh had a rough game. He’s kind of flattened out a bit lately. Terrible giveaway on the first Tampa goal, took a bad penalty, allowed Dominic Moore to go around him for the short-handed goal to force OT.
10) Moore would fit in nicely on this Rangers team. Oh, they already had him? Michael Del Zotto and he sure had something going, as Del Zotto refused to let him, at least twice, take shots at Henrik Lundqvist — who by the way deserved better.
11) That was a terrible shame about Martin St. Louis. Seriously. The guy is nothing but class, a guy who was supposedly too small to make it, and who would have played his 500th consecutive game if he hadn’t been hit in the eye with a puck shot by Moore in the morning skate. St. Louis will have his eye re-evaluated, and suffered a broken nose, and broken facial and sinus bones.
12) Good to see the Captain, Mark Messier, not take it too seriously that he will put off his surgery and play in the Winter Classic alumni game. He gets it. It’s not major news.
13) Nothing like a good old rock-em, sock-em hockey game being decided with a silly breakaway competition after the hockey game ends.
14) Trivia answer: Four. (And their names are Chris Rooney, David Banfield, Lonnie Cameron and Vaughan Rody. Maybe they can change a light bulb).
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Henrik Lundqvist.
2) Artem Anisimov.
3) Ryan Callahan.
AP photos, above.