1) Martin Biron. I thought early on, when the Blues were on the Rangers a bit, he was pretty good, and he moved the puck, too, which really helps a struggling defensive team. Then, ugh. The second and third goals were all on him. It’s ridiculous to expect him to be perfect playing one out of four or five games, and sometimes that’s what we do expect … and every time he gives up a goal, it’s “why is this guy playing?” Unfair and wrong. That said, he has to be better than that.
2) It was a somewhat gutsy and correct move by Alain Vigneault to yank Biron … Mike Keenan would have done it sooner. That all said about Biron, given that Vigneault and the organization made a big show of that fake backup goalie competition in camp—Johan Hedberg in on a tryout, and Cam Talbot getting preseason games—maybe you wonder what Biron’s future really is here. Especially if he struggles next time out.
3) And maybe, in a funny way, getting into a game unexpectedly, without having two days to think about it, without the pressure because his team was already down, will help Henrik Lundqvist.
4) Listen, this wasn’t all on Biron, either. Marc Staal stunk on the first and fourth goals. Absolutely stunk. Left his man wide open on the first, a complete blown coverage; and drifted to the middle of the ice on the fourth. Let’s just say he was expecting Jesper Fast to bust it back and pick up his man on that one, where was Staal going, and what was he going to do when he got there? Staal has had three tough ones in a row.
5) That said, Fast has been overmatched in his own end of the ice so far. Just brutal.
6) Speaking of brutal. My goodness, how does Derek Dorsett keep getting shifts after the first two needless, completely undisciplined offensive-zone penalties? Maybe because Vigneault decided to dress only 11 forwards for the fourth game in six nights on the road? But long before he took the hat trick penalty, Dorsett would have been the doorman on the bench under the previous coach. Guaranteed. Instead, game over. And, by the way, these aren’t the first undisciplined penalties Dorsett has taken through five games.
7) You guys know that I’m not very often a glass-half-full guy. But that I also sometimes discount that pucks happened to go in one way or another and analyze the game otherwise. So, even with the play of Biron, Staal, Dorsett and Fast, I thought the Rangers did a whole bunch right in this game, and if they play this way they won’t be 1-8 when they get to MSG.
8) For example, Brad Richards has been good so far this season—and most of us thought it wouldn’t be surprising if he was good after what happened last year—but I thought this was his best game in all three zones. By far. And even if he hadn’t scored.
9) There was a Derick Brassard sighting on the 5-on-3 goal, and he played his best of the five games so far. Derek Stepan played his best game of the season. Ryan Callahan was involved with the puck, not just without it. Dan Girardi, getting his usual black and blues and bloodied, looked more like Girardi.
10) And the Rangers had the puck a lot. They had a good forecheck most of the night. They had some offense. They were around the net. Their power play clicked. Most of the defensemen who had struggled were better. They won battles. They weren’t pushed around by a team that pushes opponents around. As I said, they will win games playing that way. And they should get better than that eventually.
11) Now, after 11 cities in 25 days, they come home for a few, and practice in their own facility Monday and Tuesday before heading to Washington for Wednesday’s game. They play just four times in the next two weeks, though all of them are on the road.
12) That 5-on-3 goal. That’s how you make a guy pay for a hit like the one T.J. Oshie put on Anton Stralman. Also, that’s how you run a 5-on-3. Get it down near the goal line and make the goalie and the D go side to side. Three men within four feet of the net. Unlike the previous 5-on-3 when they had three above the dots (and still scored).
13) I see Geico’s ad guys are now using Bryce Harper in not-funny-at-all commercials like the ones with Nick Backstrom. Ugh.
14) David Backes=Beast. Is his dad the guy who played Thurston Howell III and Mr. Magoo?
15) So last three games, 20-5. Hockey coaches think that, at the end of winning streaks you win some where you don’t play so well, and at the end of losing streaks you lose some where do play well. Maybe this is one of the latter. Maybe. Depending on how the Rangers follow it up in D.C.
cooscoos’ Three Rangers Stars:
1. Cally, of course, full effort win, lose or draw, hurt or healthy.
2. Richards, hard to admit it, but what can you say? His confidence is swelling. Will it continue?
3. Pouliot, this choice was the tough one. Could be a good peg if he learns to crash the net like Cally
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan Callahan.
2. Brad Richards.
3. Henrik Lundqvist.
Photos by Bill Boyce/The Associated Press.