Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rangers can't reward loyal fans on Thundersnow Day

Even the Thundersnow that blanketed the metro area with over a foot of the white stuff couldn't prevent the Rangers from doing what they do best. Finding a way to annoy their loyal fans (13,128) who braved the crazy wintry weather to support this mismatched team. I wasn't there to see it with good buddy The Mouth taking our place in Sec.411 with the crazies. Just wonder how many made it?

While the snow painted a wonderful Hallmark card here, our gang that can't shoot straight fell to the overachieving Predators 2-1. Without Marian Gaborik who suffered a lacerated knee during a shootout drill at the expense of Henrik Lundqvist (ser---ious---ly), the Blueshirts turned Dan Ellis into a Vezina candidate. The veteran netminder who shares the job with Pekka Rinne made 37 saves, including all 18 in the third to give Barry Trotz what he was searching for following last night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Islanders. A costly penalty contributed to blowing a one-goal lead with Mark Streit tying it with under 12 seconds left and John Tavares netting the winner. Here was the same team 24 hours later on short rest dealing with the blizzard better than our rested team that had three days off.

Why should that matter? Our team never is ready unless it's the Devils, who they get up for. Naturally, we got lazy turnovers and little finish against a well coached team that plays defense. Even if Ellis faced 38 shots, he was never really tested thanks to air tight coverage that made life almost as difficult as Jazzy Jim's treatment of the fans, throwing them a bone with a 25 percent food discount. Pa---the---tic!!!!! This man is a crook who deserves to be hung from the gallows Dark Shadows style. Alright. A tad overboard but at least there would be justice. Can March 7 just get here already?!?!?!?!?!

With Chris Drury moved up to the top line, the Rangers got a couple of early chances with the captain getting a couple of tricky shots on Ellis, which he got a piece of. For all the deserved criticism of Dru, he played a whale of a game tonight registering five shots in 22-plus. It was one of his best games this season even if he misfired on a breakaway off a Michal Rozsival pass, missing a backhand deke wide. The Preds used their cycle to generate offense with a couple of deflections from Patric Hornqvist and Joel Ward which Lundqvist shutdown. Speaking of Hornqvist whose 23 goals pace Nashville, how did they wind up with such a gem? He was taken dead last (2005-7th Rd. 230th overall). In the same draft best known for Crosby saving the Pens, the only player who's made it for the Rangers is Marc Staal. Almost everyone else has tanked with even the final link to Brian Leetch Mike Sauer wasting away in Hartford. Unbelievable!

Late in the first, Nashville agitator Jordin Tootoo out of all people scored the game's first goal when Kevin Klein's point blast went off him past Lundqvist. David Legwand added a helper after winning a draw that set it up. The first part of the second was ugly with a capital 'U.' That used to be what you dreaded in grammar school. Sleepwalking on skates, the Rangers allowed not one, not two but three breakaways in the first six minutes. After getting a little help from the goalpost on Martin Erat's chance following a dreadful Wade Redden turnover, the Ranger goalie stoned J.P. Dumont to keep the score 1-0. How brutal was it? Even Mr. Positivity Joe Micheletti ripped the team hinting that John Tortorella might've wanted to take a timeout.

Instead of being dead and buried, they got the game tied thanks to a loss of discipline from the Preds, who handed the Rangers a five-on-three. Well, the first call was bogus with Erat in the box for a trip Erik Christensen did on his own teammate. The second was a legit slash on favorite Steve Sullivan, whose hustle to negate an icing during the stanza saw the gritty right wing limp to the bench before returning. The guy's been through so much but plays so determined. If only we had a vet like that. Anyway, the vaunted power play almost blew it with their overpassing. But finally, Vinny Prospal cashed in by freeing up a loose puck from Ellis into the net for his 12th after an Olli Jokinen wide shot caromed to the crease.

Just like that, the game was tied. The Rangers had a couple of opportunities to go ahead but Ellis turned away Artem Anisimov and Prospal, who had a game high nine shots along with his marker. Sadly, it got decided when rookie Mike Del Zotto lost his cool earning an extra unsportsmanlike following a hook he disagreed with. Earlier on, he was taken down on a similar play with no call made. Perhaps it was comprehendable why he was upset. Regardless, he put his team in trouble and it wound up proving costly. With the club close to killing the entire four minutes, a Rozsival mishap allowed rookie Colin Wilson to tally unassisted. Following a big save by Lundqvist on Shea Weber, Rozsival went to clear the puck but it went off Ryan Callahan right to Wilson, who whistled it upstairs. A little bad luck but only Rozsival could do that. What a klutz. As Del Zotto skated back with face down, a furious Tortorella let him have it sending the poor kid to the end of the bench for the rest of the period (3:50).

I just didn’t agree with the agree with the call,” the disappointed 19 year-old defenseman said. “It’s my own fault. I’ve got to control my own emotions there. I let them team down.

I don’t think I said anything too bad. Maybe I’ve got to learn how to keep my mouth shut. … It was a dumb penalty and it was one that could have been avoided, so he had every right giving it to me and putting me in my place.

He is one of our better players,” Tortorella said. “We are trying to win a hockey game. He is certainly going to go back out there.
Del Zotto was back out a minute into a third which saw the Rangers try everything to get it tied. An early power play failed. They still came hard at Ellis, who wasn't cooperating denying Jokinen from in tight to preserve the lead. The final five minutes saw the hosts put together a few strong shifts but the Nashville backstop on this night wouldn't give in. Of course, a Rozsival shot with Ellis scrambling to get back in position went off a diving Pred just wide earning jeers from an unforgiving crowd that hates him. There's always a target. Even if he tries harder than Redden, who stunk, it doesn't matter. You could say the same for the popgun offense which fired brick after brick.

They pulled Lundqvist for an extra with almost 120 seconds left but that didn't mean much as our guys failed to come close with Nashville playing superb D. A late Ward slash on an on-rushing Brandon Dubinsky with 3.6 seconds left gave them one last prayer. But Legwand won the faceoff with a last ditch centering feed floating in the air way wide to groans while a flustered Lundqvist and 'mates at the bench had their heads down.

Notes: Emergency Hartford recall Corey Potter was used sparingly by Tortorella as a seventh defenseman logging 8:28 (11 shifts) with one good chance that Ellis thwarted while taking a penalty. ... Rangers (26-27-7, 59 Pts) slipped to 11th in the East due to Atlanta's 4-3 overtime loss at Colorado. Niclas Bergfors had a goal and helper. With 22 games left, the Blueshirts trail eighth Tampa Bay by four points. The two clubs meet Sunday afternoon at 1. With eight losses in their last 10, the Rangers have to visit the Pens Friday.

BONY 3 Stars:

3rd Star-Vinny Prospal, NYR (PPG, game high 9 SOG in 21:23)
2nd Star-Colin Wilson, Nsh (PP GW, 4 SOG in 14:17)
1st Star-Dan Ellis, Nsh (37 saves incl. 18/18 in 3rd)

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