What can you do? The Rangers sure have gotten their share of last-minute wins this year, and a few bounces along the way.
This one was one horrible bounce, then a puck sliding across the goal line, then one of those unfortunate breakaway contests they sometimes hold after the hockey game is over and done.
1) I expected some sloppiness after the All-star break—which, by the way, is now one day longer than it needs to be because of that silly TV-themed choose-up they do on Thursday. And there was some sloppiness. Or lack of sharpness. Or whatever you want to call it. The Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk and Martin Brodeur both made horrendous giveaways in front of their own net in the first eight minutes—in the Devils heyday you wouldn’t see two plays like that for months.
2) … and the Rangers weren’t without their own gaffes, the biggest perpetrated by guys with letters on their sweaters. Their captain (Ryan Callahan) and alternate captain (Marc Staal) each coughed up a hairball that ended up in the back of the Rangers net.
3) The Rangers should be better when the other alternate captain gets back. What’s that? He is playing. I know, that’s a cheapshot. But what is wrong with Brad Richards? Is he hurt? He’s not only not producing, but he’s been brutal on faceoffs, has done diddly to help the PP, and looks soft. Maybe he is hurt.
4) When you see a couple of goalies like the two Martins and the way they handle the puck, or at least when I do, I wonder why more goalies aren’t good at it? I mean, how much practice would it take to become adept at shooting the puck with a goalie stick? I did it.
5) Ah, the breakaway contest after the hockey game ends. It’s keeping the Devils (9-2 in BCATHGEs) in the playoff race. Tell me you wouldn’t rather have had the one point for a tie, and just one point for the Devils, than a win and two points for them, and what feels like a loss to you.
6) I’m not going to say what I really think here—I usually don’t pull punches—but what could the Devils organization possibly be thinking with those dancers?
7) The game was announced as a sellout, despite a lot of empty seats (it filled up a bit, but at the start of the game there were seas of empties) and although a ton of the fans in the house wore blue. I thought it was a bad idea moving to a new arena and thinking that was going to fix the attendance, and thus the financial problems, etc. I don’t pretend to have any clue about how things work in the accounting department. But I saw a team that couldn’t draw when it was winning Stanley Cups and sharing a perfectly good arena with an NBA team. And now it was going to move into a new arena, as the only tenant, in the same general area of New Jersey and all of a sudden draw and survive?
8) What was Brodeur doing on Brian Boyle’s goal? Snow angel? Break dance?
9) The power play. Oy. Now they’re using Artem Anisimov, and then John Mitchell on the PP? How bad does it have to get? Why not Stu Bickel? Seriously, I thought the best of a bad lot was the PP with Ryan McDonagh on the point. But it’s not going to matter what personnel they use if the forwards don’t move, and if they don’t try to get pucks to the net and create. I know, that’s all cliche, but they sure aren’t doing any of it.
10) You have to admit, Kovalchuk can sure play when he wants to.
11) How about that near tuck by Derek Stepan in OT? Kid’s got some mitts. Great pay by Andy Greene—he of the dump-in off the stantion—in OT, because as he swept Stepan-wolf’s stuff try off the goalline, Marian Gaborik was crashing. And I thought Gaborik and Carl Hagelin were really strong in this game.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Michael Del Zotto.
2) Marian Gaborik.
3) Brian Boyle.
AP photos, above.