- Teams with lots of highly skilled and speedy players have proven to be very dangerous to the Rangers. NYR’s grinding and fore-checking game is a great thing when run right. There were glimpses of that last night, but not enough. The problem is when the NYR play skilled teams like the Pens; they tend to get pushed away from their game and don’t control the puck enough. When the NYR set the tone of the game with a physical start they tend to control the game. This could be a big problem in the playoffs depending on matchups.
- We have to ask whether the team as currently constituted would beat the Penguins in a seven game series. Do their playmakers trump our grit and goaltending? Malkin is one of those guys who can take over a series. Do the Rangers have that? Hard to say. In theory, Gabby is that guy. But one worries if he has the strength, durability to dominate game after game, series after series. You have no doubt about that with Malkin. He is simply a beast. I am not saying we can’t or won’t beat them. But they have won two in a row, including a dominant game in MSG. Unlike the Flyers and Bruins, the Blueshirts are not in the Pens’ heads.
- 3. Give Marc-Andre Fleury the Academy Award for best theatrical goalie!!! First, he acts like he has made highlight saves on none too difficult shots. He has these exaggerated flourishes after making glove saves like he snared a guided missile out of the air. Add to this his sell-it acting job leading to goalie interference and it is fitting this game was a week before The Oscars. That said, he played a very strong game. He was quick, didn’t give up rebounds, he seemed to see everything. Give credit where it is due but please, stop with the theatrics. By the way, how out of control is this goaltender interference penalty now? …the league has to address it in the off season…they are treating goalies like they are all Golden Boy Tom Bradys.
- Anisimov played very well again. He was even able at time to slow Malkin when they were paired. He showed grit all night and was more physical than usual. Since that debacle of a 17-game stretch in the middle of the season, he has picked up his play with 7 points in his last 8 games and 4 goals. Where was this AA from the start? He may be playing himself out of a trade.
- PP continues to be a problem and arguably a liability. True, they did generate some chances, and if Mac buries that shot instead of posting it maybe this game turns around. The puck control is better but it’s always to the outside, and passes and shots continue to be a split second too late. Add to this the absence of a net presence to screen the goalie, no bomber from the blue line and it spells trouble with a capital T. Of course, this is hardly a new area of concern but in a tight game when you give up a PP goal and go 0 for 3 on the PP, that‘s all she wrote.
- The King played yet another stellar game. Needless to say he has been nothing short of amazing this season and always comes up big in these types of games; however the continued pressure from Pittsburgh was too much to handle. Hank seemed to be very downcast in the postgame, reflecting on what he described as breakdowns in his technique at times, offering that he was fighting the puck in the second but felt more on his game in the third. The guy is his toughest critic and you gotta love that he never seems satisfied. Now, if he could only start handling the puck better! Speaking of Hank, have you ever seen Torts pull him with two minutes left? I liked the move, but it seemed out of character.
- The progression of Michael Del Zotto continues to be apparent. He has been great in jumping into the play and reading when to do so. No question he made a dumb play leading to the first goal with what Torts called a “dumb” backhand flipper. Bad enough on its own but when his defense partner had also jumped up and both were at the end of the shift, it was poor judgment. But hey, the guy has been a force and let’s be honest, who among us thought he would be one of the top plus/minus guys in the league, and such a good playmaker? Good to see that Torts coupled his “dumb” comment with one noting that MDZ has been great all year. No need to drill the guy for one poor play. In fact, one could argue that it was Brad Richards’ pinch, or whatever that slide was, which really opened that play up and turned it into a goal.
- After the embarrassment against the Hawks (who, mind you, have won four in a row) and the almost humiliation against the Jackets, coupled with this loss, is there cause for concern in Blueshirt Land? Well, the easy answer is there is always cause for concern in Blueshirt Land but the truth is this was not a blowout, we ran into a goalie playing what Dave Maloney said was his best game of the year, and we did have chances. Worth noting this was game 9 in 17 days against some pretty tough opponents, and it was on the road against an inconsistent but elite level team (I do not want to imagine how good these guys will be if and when Sid returns although I will say Geno plays better w\o the Kid.). That said, there are no softies in this league and you only need to look at the Devils to see how quickly a team can rise or fall.
- What does Sather do now? It is clear to me that some added fire power is needed. Does he go for it all this season or continue on the current path of internal growth?
- The penalty on Marc Staal was questionable at best. Bottom line is it led to a goal and effectively ended the game. The team really needed to clamp down and kill that one.
- How much do you want Jordan Staal on the Rangers in two years or less? That guy played with an edge and with skill. I say unite all the Staal brothers on Broadway. A man can dream can’t he?
Eric’s Three Rangers Stars
1) Artem Anisimov.
2) Henrik Lundqvist.
3) Brian Boyle.
AP photos, above.