The other night after I had returned from The Garden of the Rangers' latest victory over the Hudson rival Devils courtesy of King Henrik's second 1-0 blanking of New Jersey, I couldn't help but notice the wacky boxscore between the Blues and Avalanche:
On the strength of sniper Milan Hejduk's hat trick and six points, the Avs prevailed in an old fashioned 1980's style shootout (no not the damn skill competition) 9-5.
Yes! You read correctly and probably did the same double and triple take I did when I saw it.
The polar opposite of one of the more tactical games between the Blueshirts and Devs which predictably had few scoring chances where each Vezina contending netminder just had to stay focused when called upon. In particular Henrik Lundqvist who saw only 17 shots the entire night.
Now, crazy as it might sound, I figured out in my head the combined score of the first half of games between the bitter Lincoln Tunnel enemies:
Rangers vs Devils (Games 1-4 2007-08 reg. season): 12
Yes! The two Atlantic division foes have actually combined to score two fewer goals than was the case in one unpredictable Western Conference match-up between Joel Quenneville's Avalanche and his former club- currently coached by Jack Adams candidate Andy Murray.
Now, I'm not implying anything here. Just mesmerized by the ridiculous difference between one contest and four games between close rivals.
You might wonder why I am even bothering bringing this up.
For a couple of reasons:
1.It demonstrates why the league erred in its latest new schedule set to begin next season with two less rivalry games between divisional opponents. We'll get to a little quick point after too.
2.It is true that the game Sunday lacked a lot of chances. Now, as everyone's favorite writer Larry Brooks pointed out, the Rangers and Devils possess two of the elite goalies in the game. Let's just cut to the chase here: Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur are the best netminders in the Eastern Conference and outside of maybe Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, the best that the NHL has to offer.
Here's the point which is open to debate. Why would these two teams play such conservative styles?!?!?!?!?! They have great goalies. Wouldn't you want to go for it a little more and take some chances once in a while? I'm not advocating a wide open style where players are irresponsible in the other end. Not in the least. The good teams know how to play defense and backcheck. But it would be nice to see a little more aggressiveness. After all, it's not like each team doesn't have skilled players who are supposed to put the biscuit in the basket.
NJ- Parise, Gionta, Elias, Langenbrunner, Zajac, Zubrus
NYR- Jagr, Shanahan, Straka, Prucha, Gomez, Rozsival
It would just be nice to see one of our own BONY goalies be forced to stand on their head from time to time. There are different kinds of games and that's understood. Especially lowscoring ones. I had a buddy who called me to wish a belated Happy Birthday and called him back and we discussed the game between the second intermission.
He made it a point to talk about how exciting the Pens' 2-1 shootout victory was over the Canucks. Now, you might say, 'Well there was only two goals scored in that.'
He raved about there being more end to end rushes and many scoring chances which had to keep each goalie on their toes.
And that's the point I'm trying to push here. That there can be very exciting 1-0 or 2-1 games. It all depends on the style.
Lastly, I will say that both teams the other night played extremely hard. The players had to fight for every inch of the ice. So it wasn't a bad game. It was good. All we're advocating here is that from a fans' standpoint, it could've been even better!
Now onto our earlier comment about the schedule:
I agree that it's nice for fans to see the other conference at least once. To get a chance to catch a Kopitar, Phaneuf, Getzlaf, Perry, Luongo, Iginla, Nash, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Kane or Toews is worth the price of admission.
Here's my only gripe. This is a part I don't like for next year:
A.Divisional games: 6 each totaling 24
B.Other conf. opponents: 4 each totaling 40
That is inexcusable. You're telling me it makes sense to play 16 more games against other divisions. We're talking only about a quarter of the schedule against your own division.
Why not subtract a game from one division (ie play 3 each against the Southeast and 4 each against the Northeast)
Here's the total:
vs Northeast- 20
vs Southeast- 15
That's 35 games. Now what if they went back to 8 against the rest of the division. Where does that leave us?
vs div. foes- 32
vs rest of Con- 35
Well, would you look at that?!?!?!??! 67 GAMES PEOPLE!!!!! No Leafs fans. It's not aimed at your team. So relax. ;)
That would mean you'd have the remaining 15 games against the opposite conference.
Now, wouldn't this schedule idea be the best of everything and give the fans more of what they want?
The choice is yours. I think I've made my point here.
Hope you'll enjoyed it!