Saturday, October 30, 2010

Missed call pushes Canes past Rangers

The home problems continued for the Rangers. Even if it wasn't all their fault in what amounted to a tough 4-3 loss to the Hurricanes sending MSG home disappointed again. I know what my #NYR Tweeps are thinking. Typical of this team to win tough road games against Boston and Toronto putting together a three-game win streak and then fall apart against the Southeast. When will it ever change? Even if a missed call led to Erik Cole's winner, it still is frustrating.

While I'll leave that for fave blogger Scotty Hockey to lament over, let's discuss why the Blueshirts wound up on the losing end. Well for starters, they never led. It's tough playing catch up all night, especially after playing a solid first period but ran into a bit of bad luck thanks to Cam Ward's best friend the goalposts. That and another misplay by Henrik Lundqvist put them behind the eight ball. That along with Canes' superior speed and killer instinct dealt the Blueshirts a second consecutive loss. These are the games they'll look back on if they miss the playoffs again.

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to conclude that this team isn't the most talented. Particularly without Marian Gaborik and Alex Frolov once again MIA. Can the Joe Micheletti excuses for a soft player that is playing too much on the perimeter. No wonder he's stuck on two goals and can't seem to find chemistry with anyone. When will Tortorella give him the treatment? If you can make an example of both rookie Derek Stepan and Erik Christensen who hardly are costing much on our cap, then isn't it about time the task master makes an example of the Russian enigma the Kings aren't exactly missing. Besides him, Marc Staal ain't too far behind. Yet another mindless game from the "shutdown guy" even if he scored. Twice he was out of position on Carolina goals including the winner with our goalie a sitting duck. Not that he could be blamed in a game both Henrik and Ward traded big saves in an entertaining contest.

Early on, the Rangers generated plenty of opportunities but both Staal and Mike Del Zotto rang shots off the post, allowing the Canes to find their legs. Both Ward and Lundqvist each robbed players pointblank keeping it scoreless. However, it was a Lundqvist miscue that led to the game's opening goal. Off a dump behind the net with Dan Girardi ready to take the puck, King Henrik mishandled the exchange allowing the Canes to keep it in. Eventually, Tuomu Ruutu made him pay when he steered home a rebound for a power play goal. Anton Babchuk and the game's No.1 Star, 18 year-old rookie Jeff Skinner picked up assists. The 2010 seventh overall pick was all over the ice, registering a career high three points, including half of Carolina's output. It's a pretty good bet the once great figure skater is staying in Raleigh off his virtuoso performance on Broadway.

Before they got back in it, a poor start to the second put the Blueshirts behind two. Albeit a bad bounce off Michal Rozsival which the youngest player in the league deposited for his first of a memorable night. Before Skinner did more damage in the form of a highlight reel that steered his team back in front, the Rangers fought back thanks to the power play out of all things. First, suddenly red hot Ryan Callahan tipped home his third in three games to get them on the board. Rozsival dished to Artem Anisimov, whose shot pass was deflected upstairs extending the Ranger alternate captain's point streak to five straight (3-5-8). He would also help set up Brandon Dubinsky's team-leading fifth later in the stanza. Since a slow start, Cally's playing some great hockey that's included three consecutive multi-point efforts. It's nice to see No.24 finally getting rewarded for his dedication. He never takes a shift off.

Before they could breathe, a poor read by Staal led to Skinner's spectacular goal. The new alternate turned the puck over in the neutral zone and then Skinner turned on the jets before deking Lundqvist out of his jock, going backhand, restoring the lead 55 seconds later. Undeterred, the Rangers again used special teams to knot it. This time with Ruutu off for slashing, a nice pass from Callahan to Dubinsky saw the emerging left wing fire past Ward, tying it at three with 4:17 left in the second.

It would stay that way until a bogus call on Brian Boyle finished off a bitter night for the guys in Blue. As fate had it, Skinner was involved again when he positioned himself for a rebound which forced Boyle to come hard on the back check. Apparently, this year's latest installment of blind mice can't tell the difference between good defensive play and a penalty. And yes. This one I'm blaming Bettman for. The majority of your officials don't read the game right and instead anticipate calls. Sometimes, like a blind squirrel they hit the peg. Other times like in a competitive game like last night, it winds up costing a team.

Not only did they make the wrong call when the teams should've played on and probably gone to overtime where it deserved to be. Instead, they missed clear interference on Ruutu as Cole was burying a Skinner rebound for the deciding tally with under 4:00 left. Off a faceoff win, the younger brother of pest Jarkko Ruutu got in Dubinsky's path, clearly not letting him skate out. Even if Sam Rosen and Micheletti whined about it, they happened to be right in this instance. A fuming Dubinsky yelled at one ref to no avail. The damage was done.

As was the case in the loss to Atlanta, they couldn't get it tied, partially due to Ward (40 saves) but also because it took too long to get set up. That's been a team epidemic for years. Late in games you trail, you have to move the puck quickly and efficiently. Don't overpass. Take your shots. Get traffic in front. Hopefully one of these days, they'll learn this. At least it's nice to see some homegrown kids getting results. But they got a long way to go. Now it's onto Toronto for a Hockey Night In Canada Original 6 battle.

Perhaps they'll be more at ease away from home.

BONY 3 Stars:

3rd Star-Cam Ward, Car (40 saves incl. 14/14 in 3rd)
2nd Star-Ryan Callahan, NYR (3rd of season, assist-3-5-8 over last 5, 7 SOG in 20:30)
1st Star-Jeff Skinner, Car (2 goals, assist-1st career 3 point game, +2 in 15:10)

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