This was the lead to my story in The Journal News and on LoHud.com about last night’s game:
Get ready, hockey fans. The NHL is going to shove more nights like this down your throats with realignment.
More non-conference games, more games with zero playoff implications. Less passion. Quieter arenas.
The Rangers and Dallas Stars put a library-like Madison Square Garden to sleep in a 1-0 Dallas victory Tuesday night.
“It was kind of a boring type of game,” ex-Star Brad Richards said after playing his 800th NHL game and first against the Dallas since leaving there as a free agent in July. “Both teams were kind of playing that way.
“You could tell it was going to be ‘first goal wins’ probably.”
“Not a lot of hate out there,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said.
Well, at least it was quick.
1) Seriously, this game is what a lot more games are going to look like once realignment takes place. Fewer four-point, playoff-implication games. Relatively emotionless games, quiet buildings, empty seats (there weren’t many last night, to be fair). Games where it doesn’t matter if you give up the Bettman Bonus Point by going to OT.
2) So tell me again, pro-realignment guys, which Dallas players do you absolutely need to see twice a year? As opposed to, say, two more games against Boston or Montreal or Toronto?
3) Have you exhaled yet after seeing Henrik Lundqvist take that Sheldon Souray bomb off the collarbone?
4) The penalty on Carl Hagelin might have been the worst call in the history of hockey. Or at least tied with several others. There just isn’t any possible justification for blaming him for that collision. None.
5) John Tortorella doesn’t scream at officials very often. But this time he did. Complete with colorful language for HBO’s mics. I like what he said he told Hagelin. “To do it again.”
6) Brandon Prust had another staged fight, and again, I enjoy the fights and I respect the hell out of the guys who do it, especially a guy like Prust, who can play, too. But, I’m telling you, these fighters better smarten up, or they’re going to lose their jobs. The NHL is virtually searching for reasons to ban fighting from the game, and that day is surely coming, and the more of these unnecessary, fighter vs. fighter for no good reason bouts that occur, the more ammo the league is going to have. Maybe the guys who make plenty of money off their fists should start their own union and talk about it, about how they’re going to save their careers. Trust me. Hockey fights are going to be gone in the near future.
7) Say what you want about the Rangers’ popgun offense on this night, and they didn’t create enough even though they had the puck deep a lot (especially compared to early in the year when they didn’t have the puck at all). But Michelle Bachman was pretty good in goal.
8) Been meaning to say this for a while. I commend the Rangers for being truthful about their injuries, and not flipping off the fans by saying “upper body” or “lower body” as most teams do. Good for them.
9) I really don’t know what else to say about Brandon Dubinsky any more. I thought, earlier, that sitting him out a game wouldn’t accomplish anything, maybe would further erode his confidence. Now I’m not sure. Maybe he just needs that type of foot to the backside. I don’t know.
10) Is there anything dumber than the “We Want Avery” chant that went up within moments of the Dallas goal? Was there anything at all that having Avery in the lineup might have changed (other than Erik Christensen’s two blocked shots in the offensive zone)? Would there have been a snowball’s chance in hell that Avery might have actually seen the ice in a 0-0 or 1-0 game in the third period? C’mon. Though, honestly, he might have brought a little passion to the contest, and Christensen (1 shot, 1 missed shot, 1 giveaway, 1 for 8 on faceoffs) sure didn’t bring any.
11) Episode 1 of “24/7″ tonight at 10. I’m hoping to get my $14 worth of HBO in the next four weeks. Then cancel it.
12) If they’re going to play games like that, and call penalties like that, and eliminate fighting and pretty much all hitting, then yeah, by all means, let’s just have 60 minutes of breakaway contests and this way everybody will be on their feet the entire time and go home like happy idiots because there was no tie.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Henrik Lundqvist.
2) Michael Del Zotto.
3) Steve Eminger.
AP photos, above.