John Tortorella referenced the Hockey Gods the one night this week, when Marian Gaborik was incorrectly called for a double-minor penalty when one opponent’s stick. and not Gaborik’s, hit the face of another opponent. And the Rangers, rightly, killed the penalties.
Tortorella said the Hockey Gods have a way of taking care of things like that.
So yesterday in Boston, a cretin named Andrew Ference nearly maimed Ryan McDonagh in overtime, and the Hockey Gods took care of the Rangers again. The Hockey Gods let the Rangers — who scored one power-play goal since Dec. 23 of 2011 (in 27 chances over 12 games) — score an overtime PPG with 3.6 seconds left to beat the Stanley Cup champions.
What a crying shame that a game like that, played the way hockey should be played, by teams that play the game aggressively and courageously, has to be remembered for a cowardly play by the worst player in the game.
1) We’re going to see what kind of onions Brendan Shanahan has now. The other day he handed out one of his signature $2,500 fines for a boarding penalty, which isn’t going to deter anything. Ference is a repeat offender, and this was a textbook hit from behind, opponent in a vulnerable position, an excessive force cheap-shot; one in which the offending idiot had more than enough time to determine whether he should hold up or go for the injury. This is one that’s going to be held up as the standard for such dangerous hits — which the NHL has claimed it is trying to remove from the game, but has shown no teeth in its attempt to do so. And whether McDonagh’s injury turns out to be minor or major should have no bearing on the suspension. But usually the NHL tries to jump through hoops to try to find a reason to go soft and not levy a long suspension. Why?
2) Great game, though. You could see at the start how tough the Bruins can be, how difficult they can make it for you if you’re not ready to rumble. That’s a team with a bit more skill and size than the Rangers. But you know what? The Eastern-leading Rangers don’t back down. They don’t take backward steps. They just don’t. You could say that the Bruins controlled play early (they sure did) and throughout times during the game. But the Rangers play that way sometimes. They go through stretches where they don’t have the puck much, but they still defend and block shots and give up very little. And, yes, they rely on their goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, to be as good as he was.
3) Remember what I said a while back about how we should abandon the stat-keeping if it’s going to be this wildly inconsistent? The Rangers outhit the Bruins, officially, 27-12. I don’t doubt that the Rangers out-hit the B’s. They did. But to say there were only 39 hits in that game? Hello? There were that many in the first period.
4) As bad as the Rangers PP is, that’s as good as their PK is. It is sensational.
5) I want to apologize for getting a little snippy during the game conversation yesterday. I don’t suffer conspiracy theories very well. If you want to argue bad officiating, I have no problem with that. But to suggest that the Rangers get the short end as part of some plan by the league and its officials, that’s just Aristophenes. I didn’t have a problem with any of the penalties that were called, but you could sure question some of the ones that weren’t called. And the diving call on Brandon Prust? He probably had to change into some dry clothing after that.
6) The Rangers might need to put some body armor on the guys who are going to be in the lanes of Zdeno Chara’s shots in the next three meetings. My God. Actually, the contrast is amazing. The B’s are a team that loves to fire the puck, and the Rangers are a team that flings bodies in front of shots and the result is a lot of ice packs and, hopefully not, X-rays. The Rangers were credited with 22 blocks, seven by McMonster. Dan Girardi played a career high 33:31 and McDonagh 32:04 before he was knocked out.
7) We talk about Marian Gaborik’s speed, and we should. But how about his hands? The other night vs. Pittsburgh he made that remarkable pass to Carl Hagelin (who was very strong against the B’s). Yesterday Gaborik drop-kicked a deflected puck that bounced, and hit the ice and Gaborik’s stick simultaneously as Gaborik scored the first goal. Then the OT winner was a back-handed roof job. Wow.
8) Pretty good plays by Prust on Ryan Callahan’s goal out of the penalty box. Prust swatted the puck away from an attacking Bruin as the power play was ending, then busted it up ice to join the play. And even though he never got the puck back, his busting it gave Callahan the space to get off his scoring shot. Callahan doesn’t get that room if Prust goes to the bench or glides.
9) Wonder if Brandon Dubinsky was hurting, or if he got some pine time (again) for a lackadaisical backcheck on the second Bruins goal, which was reminiscent of a goal the Penguins scored Thursday at MSG.
10) According to a source, Gary Bettman is arranging for the Empire State Building to be blue on one side for the Giants tonight, red and gold on another side, to honor the San Francisco 49ers, and Philadelphia Orange crud on the other two sides to honor Ed Snider, Comcast and the Broad Street Bullies. With the full approval of the NHL.
11) I thought Brad Richards played better in this game than he had lately. He did miss a pass and a shot during the major PP in OT, clearing the zone for the Bruins twice. But he made a really good play to start the flurry that ended up in the game-winner, and he nearly scored it himself, only to be robbed by Tukka Rask. Give the guy this: He’s been huge at big moments this season.
12) Which Ranger had the most ice packs after this game? Prust? Brian Boyle? McDonagh (not including the cheap shot injuries)? Girardi? Callahan?
13) That’s four of five for the Rangers against the Bruins the last two seasons. With three more on the 2011-12 schedule. And maybe a best-of-seven in the springtime.
14) It really would have been awful if this game had been decided by one of those breakaway contests they sometimes hold after the hockey game ends, especially with the battle level at which it was played, you know, during the hockey game. And it nearly did go to one of those silly contests.
15) It’s funny how things work sometimes. Richards, Gaborik and Callahan came off the ice after a fruitless PP shift late in OT. They would not have been back on before the end of OT if Michael Del Zotto had been able to keep a bouncing puck in at the blue line. Del Zotto couldn’t, put himself offside, and Tortorella had a chance to put Richards, Gaborik and Callahan back out there.
16) Anybody need any free snow?
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Marian Gaborik.
2) Ryan McDonagh.
3) Brandon Prust.
AP photos, above.