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Rangers-Senators in review; Live Chat today at noon
Posted By On February 22, 2013 @ 1:07 am In Hockey,New York Rangers,NHL,Rangers Report | 254 Comments
Don’t forget today’s noon Live Chat right here. You can check in from the ledge.
1) For a team that’s played just 16 games, there have sure been a a lot of them for which I really don’t have an explanation.
2) I thought it was fitting, though, that this game was won on a whiff. The whole game was a whiff. But a large improvement over that disaster against Montreal … … … … … sorry, I dozed off again thinking about that game.
3) Other than the staged fights early in the season, when was the last time any Ranger showed any snarl? I mean, some serious anger at an opponent? Last year it happened about 18 times a game, and the snarlier the game, the better the Rangers played. This team is different. This team isn’t nasty. It isn’t a difficult opponent. Maybe that will change at some point, but basically, the top six forwards (or seven or eight) aren’t, as a group or individually, playing well enough, and the bottom six (or four or five) aren’t as good as they were last year, either.
4) And part of that is on special teams. Now, with Rick Nash out for who knows how long (?) this power play looks like last year’s power play, which was terrible. Last night, the power play was better than decent, even scored a big 1-1 goal.
5) On the other hand, the power play gave up one of the more hideous goals of the season, that short-hander. The Rangers, I thought, were fine to that point, and didn’t react well after it. And it was just a series of breakdowns. I admit, I don’t know what happened to cause Michael Del Zotto to lose the puck at the point (replays never went back farther than that), but then Dan Girardi took a run at the eventual goal scorer, went for the poke instead of the body check, and blew a tire. That led to the extremely rare breakaway from the halfboards, partly because J.T. Miller was coasting back, and it led to a goal because Henrik Lundqvist didn’t/couldn’t come up with a pokecheck to prevent the back-handed shot. 
6) The other half of the special teams, which was good last year, isn’t nearly so good this year. That late power play, after the Rangers had somehow (with help from an injury to Craig Anderson) gotten a 2-1 lead in the third, and then Brian Boyle took a penalty, didn’t take long. Derek Stepan (9 of 22) lost a draw, the Rangers got scrambly and both defensemen — Marc Staal and Girardi — went to their knees. OK, so it’s 5-on-4 with two guys on their knees. Do the math. That’s why I have always liked both Staal and Girardi apart more than together.
7) That penalty called on Teflon Chris Neil? Pansification. That’s not a penalty. But I do believe it was the first penalty ever called on Neil against the Rangers? He did about 100 things worse than that in the playoff series last year, none of them called.
8) Some guys got banged up, too. We don’t know what’s up with Arron Asham, we don’t know what happened to Michael Del Zotto. Brad Richards got beat up a bit (he’s become an easy target). Minus Nash, it’s getting pretty thin. That guy Marc Methot caused a whole bunch of black-and-blues, including the Del Zotto injury and the one to his own goalie when he tripped the flying Chris Kreider into the net. 
9) I thought Miller and Kreider both made at least one really bad play, but otherwise were pretty good, especially Kreider.
10) Henrik Lundqvist ultimately was responsible for the Bettman Bonus Point for Losing. And the post behind Ben Bishop (Marian Gaborik in OT, Kreider in the Breakaway Contest After The Hockey Game Ends) was responsible for the Rangers not getting two. Not saying they deserved two, but they could have had two.
11) I support and admire the Garden of Dreams, and I usually buy one of those raffle tickets for $100. But I don’t understand why there are only 15 items available for the raffle. Why not make it 100 items? Give everybody a much better chance to win something, you’d probably double the number of tickets sold. I’ve been involved in some charity raffles, and it always seems that the more stuff you raffle, the more tickets you sell. And it’s not like it costs much to get jersey or a stick or a puck autographed by a player.
12) Going back to this whole “this team is different; this team isn’t rugged enough” theory of mine. They didn’t replace all the guys they lost with more rugged guys. They didn’t. And though it was a great trade of Mike Rupp for Darroll Powe, now that Powe’s out that’s another loss of grind. I think they need to play Stu Bickel more, even if he only plays Matt Gilroy’s single-digit minutes every night.
13) But the bottom line is that, yes, the bottom six aren’t as good as last year’s bottom six, and the top six aren’t playing nearly well enough as a group. Especially two of the top three (Richards and Gaborik). Not even close.
14) Tell the truth. Would you not have felt better if that game ended in a tie after overtime, one point apiece?
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan Callahan.
2. Henrik Lundqvist.
3. Chris Kreider.
Ranger JHW Three Rangers Stars:
1. Henrik Lundqvist-steals a point.
2. Ryan Callahan-Hank’s partner in crime.
3. I just can’t!
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan Callahan (22.43 %).
2. Henrik Lundqvist (13.27 %).
3. Ryan McDonagh (12.24 %).
Photos by Getty Images.
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