1) The Rangers don’t usually get out hit and outmuscled, but they sure did in the first period and they definitely did on the first goal … even if there was an illegal pick there. I thought they lost about four physical battles on that shift.
2) And from there, the beat went on. The Blues won a huge majority of the battles all night long. And, yes Ryan Callahan, that’s why they didn’t create offense or draw penalties.
3) Quite a combo by coach Hitchcock: Pressure the puck in the offensive zone, then drop into the dreaded trap, then pressure in the defensive zone. That’s the gameplan for a lot of teams but Hitch’s team sure executes it. (um, didn’t he practically beg to be hired by the Rangers once upon a time?).
4) To combat that, you can’t carry the puck through the neutral zone, and you surely can’t turn it over at either blue line. How many times did Artem Anisimov commit turnovers or fail to clear the puck — one of which led to the fluky third goal? And Derek Stepan failed to clear a couple of times, too. Can’t do that against a team like the Blues. Same as against the old Devils.
5) Rough game for Stepan all around. Outmuscled by Steen on the fluke goal.
6) David Backes=Blue Beast.
7) Now, onto the daily (hourly?) Sean Avery argument. I’d guess that Mike Rupp’s imminent return won’t be helping Avery get back into the lineup. And I’ve argued the other way at times, that one fourth-liner for another doesn’t make a big difference. Well, if that one player gives you a snarly line as opposed to a cushiony soft one asgainst a very physical team, then it could make a difference. And I guess what I’m saying is, wither it’s Rupp or Avery going in, I’d end this Erik Christensen experiment now. The way the Rangers play, they can’t have a soft fourth line.
8) And given the way this game went, and with the Devils on the sked Tuesday, I’d think about finding a way for Avery and Rupp to both play (maybe Brandon Dubinsky is due for a seat?).
9) Brad Richards sure misses the net in can’t-miss situations sometimes, doesn’t he? And Dubinsky should never miss the net at this point.
10) Man, if you’re human, it’s got to make you smile to see JD.
11) Hey, Knicks training camp on TV today!
12) Maybe the Garden of Dreams telethon could have raised even more money if Bill Pidto hadn’t scared away bidders when he told them to buy tickets for $100 to win a chance to purchase prizes. More than once.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Michael Del Zotto.
2) Carl Hagelin.
3) Ruslan Fedotenko.
AP photos, above.