1) That is the best team in the East, no doubt at all, with the best skill, a goalie who can get hot and stay hot, and a team that can play it rough and nasty, or any which way, and on an absolute roll. And Kris Letang is back. And that other guy, too.
2) But … I still think, in a best of seven, if the Rangers play the way they played most of this season, and if they have Henrik Lundqvist in goal and Ryan Callahan in his “C” jersey and are relatively healthy otherwise, there’s no way they get completely rubbed out by the Penguins. I still think they can beat any team in the East … and pretty much any team in the East could beat them, if that team is willing to grind and battle with them.
3) And that all said, the Rangers had more mess-ups in this game than in any game in a long time … allowed five goals for the first time (other than a shootout loss to Ottawa, in which the fifth goal is “awarded” after the breakaway contest) all season …
4) They sure could have used a big save, and I’m not pinning anything at all on Martin Biron. But he didn’t steal anything.
5) Interesting that John Tortorella said his D-men (the back end) struggled — and they did — and that he called out the Boyle-Prust line for allowing too many goals lately. If they’re not going to score, he said, they can’t allow so many. Those are pretty honest and accurate assessments.
6) You have to love the sticking together and all of that, but after Evgeni Malkin got knocked on his can by Boyle, then went after Boyle’s knees, Prust can’t retalliate after the whistle. And that said, Malkin has this habit of when he gets hit, his stick “accidentally” comes down like an axe on the opponent. It did there, and he got away with it.
7) The only call or non-call I really had an issue with was the trip on Gaborik on the near breakaway. I don’t think it was a penalty shot, and I don’t think it was intentional, but he got tripped when he would have had a breakaway. Not that the Rangers power play would have made a difference. You never know, though. Also, Brooks Orpik got three healthy cross-checks and a slash on Gaborik, and no call, on the Hagelin goal.
8) Sidney Crosby. I just wanted to say that since everybody else in North America thought that this game was about him for some reason. It wasn’t. If he didn’t play, it still would have been 5-2.
Here’s some Skid audio, courtesy of the Penguins. Crosby.
9) Wonder how serious Artem Anisimov’s hand/arm injury is. We probably won’t know unless it’s long-term. But the Rangers sure are getting banged up now without Callahan and Del Zotto, and with Boyle a walking bundle of injuries.
10) Dan Girardi was the best Rangers defenseman in this game, by a lot. Stu Bickel was second best. By a lot. The rest? Yeeesh.
11) Seven straight goals, and nine in the last three games, for the Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik line. Gaborik missed a check on one of the goals, but was pretty damn good and got No. 35. Tortorella’s right. They need somebody else to kick one in once in a while. Maybe when Callahan gets back.
12) Geno Malkin=Beast. Malkinsanity?
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Carl Hagelin.
2) Brad Richards
3) Marian Gaborik.
AP photos, above.
A few of things: A lot of you volunteered and I didn’t answer all of youse, so I apologize. I assigned “Three Stars” through last night’s game (and last night’s guy must have forgotten). So if anybody is interested in doing “Three Stars” for any of the final 12 games, please e-mail me at email@example.com and I’ll assign you a game.
Also, is anybody interested in doing a review of Saturday’s game against the Avalanche? Looking for somebody on short notice … and somebody who’s not going to be drinking green beer all day. If you want to do it, again, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks. — The Mgmt.
Finally, Krisy and the Norwegians, thank you for the Melkehjerter!!!!! You rule!