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Rangers-Devils in review
Posted By On March 7, 2012 @ 4:29 am In Hockey,New York Rangers,NHL | 349 Comments
1) Sixteen regulation losses in 65 games. So please don’t go Full Chicken Little today. Though I’m sure some of you will, and some of you, in the back of your warped little minds, are finding some “told you so” satisfaction of the first regulation loss in six games, because, yeah, the Rangers have been slipping a bit lately. And because some of you still have an axe to grind with the coach. Hey, it’s a sick world in which some sports fans live. 
2) Brandon Dubinsky. Give the kid credit for showing some onions. Maybe not a lot of brains. Or maybe he didn’t know how that Ryan Carter guy can throw them. But why he’s fighting anybody when John Scott, Mike Rupp and Stu Bickel are on the ice is way beyond my comprehension. And now he’s hurt, too. And his nightmare season continues.
3) John Scott. He practically had to beg Cam Janssen to fight him, because Office Joe Boulton literally ran away from him when challenged, and because you knew David Clarkson wasn’t going near him. Finally, Scott shoved Janssen into the goalpost behind the play and dropped a glove and grabbed him, and finally Janssen had to oblige. And by tying up the big guy’s right arm, Janssen did just fine. Scott played a little D, too, after Dan Girardi found some bench time in the third.
4) Girardi. His game has slipped a bit, too. The Block Ness Monster gets full marks for toughness in the real sense, and he wasn’t going to let that hideous arm injury force him out for even a single game. Not sure if the injury is what’s hampering him. But he’s reverted a little bit to chasing the puck and sliding out of the play once in a while, and stick checking … all the stuff for which we chided him last year at times. Maybe he’s just exhausted. He should be.
5) His old partner, Marc Staal, is getting better. He, too, still chases the puck wide sometimes, and relies on the stick check too often, IMO. But he’s gotten a lot better lately. The strength of the Rangers D was how it clogged the front, the scoring areas, this season. I think that has gotten loose lately.
6) That said, the area that was really bad the last two games were those crazy-bad passes. Against Boston, it was the up-the-middle D-zone pass. Against the Devils it was the neutral-zone passes and turnovers (duh! that’s been happening against the Devils since, oh, 1993). And the first one, by Marian Gaborik in the first minute, was bad all around — during a change, in the neutral zone, Derek Stepan skatting past it as it bounced, Ryan McDonagh falling down and — of all people — Ilya Kovalchuk on the puck.
7) Kovalchuk=Monster when he wants to be. I still think he’s the one the Rangers let get away. Let’s put it this way, he’s way better than Rick Nash. And better than Brad Richards. And better than future Ranger Zach Parise.
8) I think you have to like the way the Rangers have been really angry with themselves after their rare regulation losses this season. They have set an impossibly high bar for themselves, and embrace that the team with 16 losses is the team they should be. Only better. 
9) Hard to say Henrik Lundqvist played well in a 4-1 loss (one of those an empty-netter). But he did. He got beat by Kovalchuk on a breakaway, on a shot that was going far side and ended up caroming off Kelly Clarkson’s leg and into the near side, and on a short-range shot by Carter, and had the Rangers only 1-0 down after one, and tied 1-1 after two. The two PP saves he made on Kovalchuk in the final five seconds of the first were sensational.
10) I imagine John Mitchell gets back into the lineup now, and if Dubinsky is out — and I would think it’s fairly serious since he didn’t return for the final 57 minutes — I wonder if a callup is coming. Scott doesn’t really fit into the lineup against a team like Ottawa (tomorrow), though I imagine he’ll play vs. his former team in Chicago Friday and maybe against the Islanders Sunday.
11) Looking for a positive? How about the way the two young first-liners have been shooting the puck lately? Derek Stepan buried another rocket up under the crossbar, and Artem Anisimov’s been firing away, too. Good sign. They both are needed as goal-scorers, not just playmakers.
12) I know that a lot of you will say that the Hall of Fame goalie down the other end is only good because he’s six feet wide. But he sure was really good last night. (takes cover for barrage of feedback).
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Marc Staal.
2) Derek Stepan.
3) Carl Hagelin.
cmjohnis’ Three Rangers Stars:
1) Derek Stepan.
2) Henrik Lundqvist.
3) Ryan Callahan.
AP photos, above.
(I may need a volunteer to do a review on the Chicago game Friday. My “other” job is in one of my really busy periods of the year for the next few weeks, and I may not see Friday’s game live. If interested, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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