Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Marty-Henrik MSG duel one for the ages

It would be so easy to start off by saying how disappointed I was by how tonight's epic Battle Of Hudson showdown got decided. But that would take away from what a truly special game it was. Devils/Rangers is always fun, bringing tremendous passion in the stands and of course the ice. What we got at MSG was more than anyone could ever have imagined.

Sitting here now, I'm still floored at what took place. Anyone who went knows. From this Ranger blogger's perspective, it ranks as one of the best games ever. There have been a lot of good games this season. A few nights prior, the Canucks and Flames for example went toe to toe before the shootout decided it. At least there were four goals scored before that point. Alright. So, neither team could get one past the dueling No.30's as Martin Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist answered each other like in a duel. This was Koufax versus Gibson. And as Hasan already referenced, Ali-Frazier. Whatever great sports analogy you can think of, it applies.

A grand total of ninety-six shots were taken through regulation and four-on-four overtime. Not a single one went in or struck a goalpost/crossbar. This doesn't even include the offerings that missed or got blocked by dedicated players from each side who competed fiercely for every inch of ice. Yeah. Over a hundred were attempted without any success because MB30 and King Henrik wouldn't allow one to get by them. If you love the sport, this was absolutely tremendous. Each tried their best but neither budged, taking it the distance where a skill competition was needed to decide a winner.

At that point, I knew we had no shot because our guys just aren't as skilled. Marian Gaborik- who was thwarted twice by a sprawling Brodeur in the first minute of OT- had to score in the bottom of the third. He didn't and someone forgot to tell an inspired Brandon Dubinsky that high glove doesn't work on Marty. So, he flashed the leather stopping the 55th consecutive shot to pull within a Devil successful shot of his first regular season shutout at 33rd and 7th. How could that be? Lundqvist had already denied Zach Parise (forehand deke), Jamie Langenbrunner (forehand deke) and Travis Zajac (forehand deke), silencing ZZ Popp.

But Jacques Lemaire still had one shooting ace up his sleeve in Ranger killer Patrik Elias, who entered with 57 points in 59 career games in this heated rivalry. So, here came the Czech captain skating down the middle before firing a perfect laser upstairs to give the Devils the emotional extra point. Why? Because as disappointing as it is to have this kinda game decided by a gimmick, it's still bragging rights. Not any fan could complain about the level of play. This was as good as it got. However, it was Hell's worshippers who got to fully enjoy it when Elias beat Lundqvist high glove.

Half the six regular season meetings have now been played. The road team has won every one. The Devils the last two after falling at The Rock. All three have been close with only a late Parise empty netter making the difference of one more than a goal which should tell you something about the rivalry. The fourth will also be at The Garden on Feb.6 before the Olympic Break. The final two in Newark on Mar.10 and Mar.25. Maybe one of the remaining three will somehow top tonight. Just don't count on it.

Lundqvist and Brodeur gave us a show we won't soon forget. No matter who you rooted for, this classic duel was one for the ages. Bravo gentlemen. Bravo!

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