Saturday, February 9, 2008

Valiquette shines again against Flyers

Stephen Valiquette obviously didn't get the memo that sometimes goaltenders allow goals, as he and a feisty Rangers shut out the Flyers 2-0 in Philly. It was Valiquette's second shutout of his career, second in a row, second in a row against the Flyers and all in the last 10 days. Nigel Dawes and Scott Gomez scored the Rangers' goals in a game that featured eight fighting majors and plenty of physicality.

Colton Orr, Ryan Hollweg, Brandon Dubinsky and Fedor Tyutin had scraps, three at the same time in the second period when Steve Downie went after Tyutin after Tyutin gave him a clean hip check. Unfortunately on the play, Downie's skate came up and caught a linesman in the nose, breaking his nose and forcing him to get 20 stitches. While he was bleeding all over the ice, Downie attacked Tyutin, Orr fought Riley Cote and Hollweg had a tussell with Jim Dowd. Later on in the game, Dubinsky fought a much tougher Mike Richards, who was being a real jerk for most of the night.

Hollweg was a little off with his hockey skills tonight, but still provided some good energy. Blair Betts had a good game, as did Dawes, Gomez, Ryan Callahan and Chris Drury. Jaromir Jagr looks like hes really pushing too hard out there. His power play unit again looked awful and him trying to carry the puck himself all the time got him no where again. Avery had his best puck handling game in a while, moving the puck nicely, creating scoring chances. Valiquette was sharp, playing much better than his last game, when he didn't have too much work after the first period. It was a constant stream of shots tonight, and he was up to the task.

My biggest beef with this game was the Flyers' numerous fights while wearing visors. It first caught my attention when Hollweg fought Ryan Carter the other night, where Hollweg looked hesitant to drop the gloves while Carter had the visor on. Tonight it was Downie and Richards wearing visors and involved in a fight. I understand if the fight happens, it happens, but take the visor off. I'm all for protecting the eyes, but anyone willing to fight has to be willing to lose the lid as a courtesy to the man that is about to pummel you with his fists. There is a rule saying an starting a fight with a visor is an automatic two minute penalty, but apparently it is not enforced.
There were also plenty of rinky-dink penalties called (Dubinsky's phantom high sticking, Jeffrey Lopul's hooking) while Darian Hatcher ran around with his elbows up several times. And how in the world was there no penalty shot awarded to Callahan when he was slashed by Randy Jones on a clear breakaway. He gained the red line alone, crossed the blue line, got the slash, didn't get a clean shot off and slid into the net. Sounds like it warrented a penalty shot to me.

The Rangers are back at it tomorrow afternoon against the Washington Capitals. Expect a little bit more rough stuff, as these teams don't like each other either. Donald Brashear will undoubtedly piss someone off which will result in a Ranger getting beat by the big enforcer, much like every other game. It's good hockey though. Valley might be back in net, giving Henrik Lundqvist a nice seven day vacation, as the Rangers are then off until Saturday when they meet the Sabres. You may see Marek Malik tomorrow as well. Jason Strudwick needs some time off as he is clearly not an everyday defenseman, but does an excellent fill in job. You can't ask for much more from him. He's making $600,000 this season and has done a better job than the high priced Malik and Paul Mara.

I'll check in just before the game with the lineups and any news. Goodnight.

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