Monday, March 15, 2010

Pic of Day: It's A Rozsival PPG

Yesterday's big 3-1 home win over the Flyers was one of the best games this version of the Rangers has played. Their shortcomings have been well documented. For once at least, the guys wearing the Blueshirt logo wore the jersey with pride, outplaying a bitter rival by a country mile. While much of the focus centered around the kinda game Sean Avery had following a seat in the press box, John Tortorella's club stood up to the Broad Street Bullies highlighted by Brandon Dubinsky KO-ing Philly captain Mike Richards. That in itself was something to behold as Richards certainly is honorable. Thanks to the tutelage from former enforcer Colton Orr, Dubi has come a long way.

Even if we didn't go having sold the game a while back, it was nice to see our guys winning every battle while limiting the Flyers to just 18 shots. Yes, they actually made Henrik Lundqvist's day easier with him only required to come up with a couple of large stops including a stone job on Jersey kid James Van Riemsdyk after a minor miracle took place.

Michal Rozsival scored a power play goal. No. Jaromir Jagr didn't return from Russia. Not long ago, it wasn't uncommon to see Rozy contribute offensively using his big one-timer. For as miserable as he was the first three months, the elder statesman has steadied since. He's been more involved in all facets with the familiar nice outlets springing teammates and even more engaged defensively. Granted. He's still prone to mistakes like Atlanta's second goal the other night. However, if you're not judging with bias, the Czech's played with more purpose. On one shift Sunday, he shoved Flyer clown Scott Hartnell down repeatedly. Something that's been happening more frequently. It was nice to see him get rewarded offensively, ripping an Erik Christensen feed off the bar and in. So, without even more discussion since I never got around to a recap, here's the rare sight that saw Rozy congratulated by teammates:

While you let that sink in, a couple of strong quotes from the soft spoken '05-06 mainstay:

"It’s a great feeling to contribute offensively. It’s not something I’ve done so much this year, but I felt that I was open and I got a great pass from Christensen and I just shot it. The main thing is that there was a great screen in front of the net.

Say what you will about his contract which is our GM's fault but the guy logs important minutes on our blueline without fanfare while being a good teammate. Maybe I'm more forgiving than most but I seem to recall the Rangers taking a waiver on the former Pen post-lockout and he evolved into one of our more valuable players. When push comes to shove, he and former whipping boy Marek Malik weren't that bad. I'd much rather have Big Bird than main culprit Wade Redden. None of this justifies Rozsival's salary ($5 M) which the club is still on the books another two years. The main issue aside from cost is that he's asked to be a top 2-3. If our D was stronger, Rozy as a 4-5 would be much better, speaking to the real problem. Marc Staal is by far the team's best with Dan Girardi and Rozsival taking turns as the second. For a change, all three had strong games with DG chipping in a helper and a few blocked shots. Until rookie Mike Del Zotto matures, it's a work in progress. Whether Girardi's a part of it all depends on what the club chooses to do with upcoming RFA.

One can't illustrate how much Tortorella leans on the top four due to Redden and Matt Gilroy's struggles. Never has a bottom pair more negatively impacted a team's defense. Both are soft. We can no longer give Hobey a free pass. He's a few years older than Del Zotto. If he doesn't show improvement next year, then the $1.659 M they're paying him is a colossal failure that's kept Corey Potter and Bobby Sanguinetti buried in Hartford. Both are cheaper and deserve a chance. Especially Potter, who's done nothing wrong whenever recalled the past year-plus. Furthermore, what was the point of signing Ilkka Heikkinen if he's not going to play? Simply amazing.

I didn't plan to turn this into a rant about our entire D but it just manifested itself. Kudos to Rozy for sticking with it!

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