Welcome to the second half. The best team in the East, battling for No. 1 overall, better expect that these bottom-dwellers are going to be fired up to play them. That these teams think it’s a barometer game when they play the Rangers. That there’s no more sneaking up or surprising anybody.
That ship has sailed.
And they won’t win much at all against anybody playing this way.
1) So, subbing for Brandon Dubinsky and Ruslan Fedotenko were Wojtek Wolski and Kris Newbury. Oy. And the two of them were each on the ice for three Montreal goals in just 6:20 of ice time, and Wolski made soft, weak plays on two of the goals. Or is that Whaleski?
2) Though it sure wasn’t all their fault. The fourth line got killed—and that included Mike Rupp, who was bad. And the third D-pair wasn’t any better. Marc Staal made a pair of woeful plays on the first goal, which rewinds all the way to Marian Gaborik not being able to get off for a change and the Rangers being pinned, then to Gaborik finally going for a change when Staal coughed up a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone, then to Staal taking himself out of the play behind the Rangers net while knocking the stick out of Henrik Lundqvist’s hand. Oy. Staal did play 20 minutes, though, so that’s a good sign, and he played a bunch of shifts with Dan Girardi.
3) I’d love to know for what John Tortorella was chewing off the head of Stu Bickel after a Montreal goal. His giveaway sure wasn’t the worst I’ve ever seen. He couldn’t get a back-handed shot out of the zone. Maybe he should have gone hard around the backboards. Maybe it was for screening the goalie? But you never hear anybody getting it like that for screening the goalie. So I don’t know what it was. Not being funny or defending Bickel. I really don’t know. But Bickell had a nice seat on the pine for the third period. And that added minutes to Girardi and Ryan McDonagh’s 30-minute nights on the second of back-to-backs, like they really needed that in a blowout loss.
4) Artem Anisimov, in a personal backslide, made a weak backcheck attempt on the fourth goal, which kind of put them away, because they weren’t quitting down 3-1 with a lot of time left.
5) Maybe young players are intimidated by the Centre Molson, er, Centre Bell, or whatever it’s called. But it isn’t the Forum. And these aren’t the pre-’93 Canadiens. There shouldn’t be this level of failure there.
6) Scott Gomez plays about four decent games a year, I gather … all four vs. the NYR.
7) Anybody seen the other NYR No. 19 lately?
8) NBC Sports Network. Geez. What can you say? Clown show in the studio. Cutting quickly away every time there’s a hint of a confrontation. … oh, well, at least there were no Knicks promos.
9) Classic Tortorella interview on the bench with Brian Engblom. I actually expected it to be worse. One day it will be.
10) The Rangers have now suffered six of their 11 losses to Canadian clubs. The Rangers have three good ol’ American clubs coming up, and none of them are going to be easy. Nashville is always a handful. Then Pittsburgh (with Skidney?). Then at Boston in the usual Saturday matinee.
11) I doubt very much that P.K. Slewfoot actually spat at Michael Del Zotto, but did you see this video? As Pat Leonard, who first tipped us off to the video, added, draw your own conclusions. But after the game, nobody had any idea what the fuss was about, so maybe it was a camera angle that made it look like something it wasn’t.
12) Let’s also see if Mr. Shanahan has any onions regarding Mr. Lecavalier’s sucker punch vs. Mr. Malkin. Doubt it. He’s already set the precedent that sucker punches are not suspendable, and that Mr. Lecavalier can get away with stuff for some reason. But what’s going to happen when one of these long-term concussions are caused by a sucker punch?
My Three Rangers Stars:
(this wasn’t easy)
1) Derek Stepan.
2) Brandon Prust.
3) Dan Girardi.
AP photos, above.