Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No early returns

Forget waiting until the end of the game. It's like watching the Flameout last night. Olli Jokinen and Marian Gaborik have no chemistry and the Rangers sure can't compete with the much bigger, faster Kings. A lot can be said about John Tortorella's boneheaded move putting five forwards out on a 5-on-4 power play, which predictably resulted in the Kings' best player Anze Kopitar scoring on a shorthanded breakaway. That Gaborik and Jokinen miscommunicated at the point leading to it spoke volumes. Just how many different pointmen can Tort try? You never stick five F's out unless it's 5-on-3.

There also was the bizarre line combo that had Chris Drury with Brian Boyle and Aaron Voros. Did the coach forget his med? Holy smokes. Look. Dru has been brutal this season but sticking him with two slugs is a total waste. Let our new bruiser Brandon Prust play with them on an energy line. He sure made his presence felt taking an undisciplined boarding minor and instigating a fight with Brandon Segal, earning a misconduct. Only 19 penalty minutes and fight No.19 for the kid with the fresh mohawk buzz cut donning Marek Malik's former No.(8). At least the guy wearing it will finish checks and keep fans awake.

Thanks to Marian Gaborik's fifth in three games- a nice tip-in of an Erik Christensen backhand pass- they're only down a goal with under a minute left trying to tie it. They probably won't tie it and don't deserve to. Ryan Callahan came close on a tip with 11.4 ticks left. What's with all the "Rangers Suck" chants? These Hollywood fakes are louder than Satan's worshippers. That faceoff was a joke as four seconds ran off before somehow the puck came to Drury, who was robbed by Jon Quick at the buzzer for LA's seventh consecutive win. Had they forced overtime, it would've felt wrong because that's how outplayed they were. Save me the whole MSG bs that they didn't give up. You could easily say the same for that Phoenix stinker where in typical Ranger fashion, they teased us. No wonder our own fans hate them.

Look. Nobody's saying Joke-inen is going to save this team because at the end of the day, there's not enough net presence and we're still stuck with Tinman and Woh-zsival. Until Glen Savior can find a sucker like Darryl Sutter for our two albatrosses, this team shall remain severely flawed. Yesterday, we had the half glass view praising the GM for ridding of Ally, saving three million. I too liked Higgs but he just couldn't finish. He can always be brought back over the summer. Highly unlikely. Jokinen's salary comes off setting us up to take a run at someone on July 1. Preferably a crease clearer. I'd like to see Slats try packaging Dan Girardi and a young forward to fill that void. But who's available? Of course, I'd kill for a high character guy like Robyn Regehr but he ain't going anywhere following the Phaneuf deal. He got off to a good start tonight against the suddenly reeling Devils, who just aren't the same minus Patrik Elias.

The Pluses from tonight and there weren't many:

A.Henrik Lundqvist was very sharp following the six day layoff. Don't be fooled by the 19 saves as many were high quality.

B.Gaborik continued to finish. You know what they say about goalscorers. Get one and they usually break out. That's five for the Great Gabby on the road trip giving him 34 on the season. Whatever happened to all those punch lines about his durability? Whether he can mesh with Jokinen remains to be seen.

C.The PK went for 3-for-3 against a potent LA power play that burned the Devils. No small task.

D.Brandon Prust. He needs to be a little smarter but boy can he be a breath of fresh air for the Garden Faithful.

The Negatives:

A.The coach stunk. Weird lines. Way too many combos. Idiotic coaching on the PP cost them the game's first goal. For a guy who won a Cup, some of his decisions are quite baffling. Granted. He had a lot more to work with in Tampa. But come on!

B.Jokinen was caught out for both goals against finishing with zero points, 4 SOG and a minus-two in 20:34. Also found no chemistry with Gaborik whose goal came with waiver steal Christy out there.

C.Does this team practice the power play? Isn't Tort supposed to be an offensive mind? They've gone completely backwards. Just do us a favor and decline it!

D.Shoot The Puck! Seri---ous---ly, they were stuck on 12 shots after 40 minutes. Last night, Calgary had 10 en route to 18 in a listless performance. At least this wasn't on home ice because they would've gotten booed out of the building. How many times can our guys overpass. It's like they still have Jagr Syndrome. I expect it from Woh-zsival. But the rest of ya should know better.

E.Lack of crease presence. It's something that's plagued this vanilla cream custard soft serve club for years. I get that the LA blueline is very good, making Quick's life easy with All-Star Drew Doughty, Rob Scuderi and Jack Johnson leading the charge. But is it too much trouble to ask one of our players to get the uniform a little dirty? Saw Slats' interview and he better not be done!

F.No Pushback. Let's face it. Our D is soft as molasses and should be sponsored by Hostess. I wonder why they haven't gotten them yet on one of those cheesy glass advertisements. Marc Staal's the only one who really competes but even he's not that strong in front of his own net. He's really turned around his year and also did some nice things keeping plays alive in the offensive end, leading to an early Jokinen opportunity with the game scoreless. But outside of him, there's nothing. Both Tinman and Woh-zsy are incapable. Though Michal at least can break up plays. Girardi is inconsistent. At times, he makes solid reads and even uses the body and then there are instances where he passes the puck up the middle like tonight which lead to glorious chances. Matt Gilroy's not that kind of player and DZ's still a pup who at least throws the body consistently. But it takes time to develop. Honestly, they should give Heineken, Sangs and Sauer another look. I know it's not happening. But that's what I'd do.

Don't forget Thursday, our heroes return to host Ovechkin and the sizzling Caps, who are only winners of 11 straight following tonight's 4-1 win over the inept B's. As my Dad said:

"That should be cute."

BONY 3 Stars:

3rd Star-Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (19 saves incl.10/11 in 2nd in return)
2nd Star-Jack Johnson, LA (3 missed shots, 2 blocked shots, +2 in 19:22)
1st Star-Anze Kopitar, LA (1st SHG of season, 3 SOG, 7 attempted, 2 hits in 24:49)

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