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This was playoff-style hockey … or more specifically, the way the Rangers are going to have to play in the playoffs. And the way a lot of games are going to be contested down the stretch. Get used to it. Sure, you’d like to see more possession and more offensive creativity, and no doubt you’d like to see even the slightest semblance of a power play.
But this was a game where every inch of ice was a battle field, where every loose puck was a fist fight. Buffalo played very, very well. The Rangers did too.
But, man, it was not pretty, and I could see that, if you’re a fan of one of the teams, if you had a dog in this fight, you didn’t find it very entertaining.
1) The first period set the tone for the night. Tough sledding in the first. Nobody giving up anything, not an inch. Rangers of past seasons—I mean, before last season—would not have been up for that. They might have packed it in after the first.
2) I still maintain that these 0-0, 1-0, 1-1 scores we see for such lengths of games now has a whole lot to do with the ridiculous size of the equipment the goalies are allowed to wear. Ryan Miller weighs like 110 pounds, and when he puts the uniform on he looks like Vince Wolfork.
3) Shut up Pierre. I really like Pierre McGuire. He’s a really good guy and his knowledge of the sport and its players is off the charts. Honestly, it is. But we don’t give a crap what every player’s junior team was, or where he was born. Your cameras are on the moon, so tell us what’s going on on the ice. And, it sure seems as if NBCSports is using the same production people as Versus and Outdoor Life Network—the ones who cut away from the action the moment a whistle is blown to show us a closeup of somebody somewhere else, and missing virtually every single confrontation on the ice. Just God awful.
4) And … Kaleta won’t fight Brandon Prust because of a hand issue? Please. Kaleta is the worst kind of cheap-shot artist, the kind that will never be manly enough to accept the challenge and be accountable for his actions. If the world was about to be blown off its axis and Kaleta could save it by fighting Prust, he wouldn’t. Piece of clarke.
5) Maybe it was because they were down a ref, but the call against Stu Bickel, where the guy held his stick and took a swan dive, was dreadful.
6) On Brian Boyle again. If he had 12 goals instead of three, maybe certain people would be happier, and possibly the Rangers might have a few more points. On the other hand, where would the Rangers be if they weren’t so fabulous at killing penalties? And Boyle has been a beast on the PK. A beast. And he was a beast on the 5-on-3 kill that saved the game.
7) It looked like Chris Dru… er, Brad Richards, caught a shot of adrenaline for a while in the second period. And he played much better as the game went on. It would be an enormous understatement to say he’s a critical piece the rest of the way. And, oh, it’s time to take him out of the top three in the shootout.
8) Brandon Dubinsky, again, began the game on a line with Richards and Ryan Callahan, and again was demoted again. Four shifts in the second period, three in the third, none in OT. I have no idea where it’s going with him, or where it’s gone.
9) At least the PP didn’t have many chances to stink. I was thinking the same thing as some of our readers last night. It’s time to put the third or fourth line out there, intact, for the next PP, and just tell them to play as if it’s 5-on-5. Also, though it’s too small a sample to judge, Anton Stralman bombed out in his shot at the PP point. The PP has been better in OTs, when it’s 4-on-3. And it should be.
10) Meant to mention this yesterday. I was listening to a Zach Parise interview following the game in Newark Tuesday. Parise said he knows the Devils were lucky to get the win on the bad hop, but that he thought his team played very well. And this was the money quote that told how much has changed for the Devils AND the Rangers. He said that if the Devils play that way, “We can compete with teams like (the Rangers).” Imagine.
11) The Breakaway Contest After The Hockey Game Ends (BCATHE): Get rid of this freakin’ gimmick. It reeks. There’s no way either team should have gone away with a loss because of what happened in that stupid crapshoot of a joke of a contest, no matter how much it is enjoyed by people who don’t have a clue about what goes into winning a hockey game. Playoff positions, playoff revenue, coaches’ jobs, players’ jobs, GMs’ jobs, should not be affected by this sideshow. But they are.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Henrik Lundqvist.
2) Dan Girardi.
3) Ryan McDonagh.
AP photos, above.