The 0-2-2 mark has the Blueshirts just four up on both Carolina and Atlanta thanks to the Hurricanes' 4-3 overtime win that just ended. Oh. And the way it's been going, of course the Canes would allow the Thrashers to tie it in the final minute before Erik Cole won it- drawing the Canes even with the slumping Thrahsers for eighth. Each has 58 points but Carolina played only its 53rd game compared to Atlanta's 55th and our 56th. So, they have games in hand as well. With another difficult match coming at Original Six Detroit on dreaded Versus before a few days off with Atlanta next, the sooner the Blueshirts snap out of a funk that's seen them lose seven of 10, the better off for their playoff chances.
This wasn't about a sluggish start as had been the case in recent weeks plaguing our club. It was more about Price, who made some money stops and our anemic offense with again the powerless play the main culprit. How else to explain blowing four consecutive power plays in the second and not even making a dent before of all people, Scott Gomez scored a crusher to snap a scoreless tie late in the stanza? It would figure that a wide Alexandre Picard point shot would carom off the Habs' ridiculous boards right to a vacated Gomez, who patiently took his time before going upstairs on starter Martin Biron. Biron btw was quite good making 27 saves. So, aside from a flukey bounce, since coming in for Henrik Lundqvist, all Marty's done is stop 33 of 34. If your team can't score, you got no shot.
Only this time, it's our steady backup that was victimized by our fading offense. Has anyone seen Marian Gaborik? It's getting to the point where you half expect his mug to be on the back of a milk cartoon with the slogan:
"HAVE YOU SEEN THIS PERSON? IF SO, PLEASE CONTACT THE NYRANGERS AT 2 PENN PLAZA IMMEDIATELY."Okay. No one is saying he isn't trying. But a couple of days removed from some lazy turnovers in an MIA performance which John Tortorella again called him out, Gabby registered two shots and was minus-one in under 15 minutes. Unless he's finishing, Gaborik is a waste of space, which makes you wonder if maybe our organization would be better off exploring trading the superstar. I know it seems like a stretch because of the hefty price tag and also we're still talking about one of the elite snipers when on. So, what has happened to the Great Gabby??? Outside of lighting up three of the worst teams this season to the tune of 10 goals, he's scored only six in the other 38!!!!!! That is insane. Tort has tried every possible line combo that it makes one ponder if we're gonna have to bring back the Renney shuffle which always had jailed Petr Prucha as a healthy scratch.
Vinny Prospal has already shown more in two games than his more gifted linemate. How much catering can our coach do without screwing with the rest of the chemistry? And Chris Drury wasn't in to critique for this one with his knee being drained. Yep. Another injury for our battered captain who you know will sacrifice even if he couldn't score into a whore house. Does Gaborik ever lay it on the line ever? Maybe I'm overreacting. But it's getting increasingly frustrating watching the rest of our team give it their best while the ghost wearing No.10 resembles Nigel Dawes. At least the ex-Ranger got dirty. I don't have an explanation for Gaborik who should be over his shoulder separation unless it's like Jaromir Jagr after that brutal arm injury at the end of Game One versus the Devils in '06 First Round.
The excuses have to stop. Lundqvist never makes any when he has off nights, always at his locker to discuss what went wrong. I'm not inferring that Gaborik isn't but I just can't make any more excuses for what's supposed to be our best offensive player.
Sean Avery saw increased time with Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust, who were our most effective trio late as Price closed out his fifth shutout of the season (eighth career). They worked the puck down low and generated chances but Price was too strong- stifling a pointblank Avery opportunity with Biron pulled in the final 70 seconds. Eventually, our joke of a power play came back to bite us when Tomas Plekanec erased all doubt, sending the Rangers to their latest loss.
So, what to expect now with what should be an angry Detroit having been shutout two straight by an aggregate 6-0 margin against Columbus and Nashville? Uh. This probably doesn't bode well. Even if Jimmy Howard's having a sophomore slump, even an injury plagued Winged Wheel is much better skilled than our grinders. Just imagine the havoc five-goal scorer Johan Franzen might create. Henrik Zetterberg, Nick Lidstrom, Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary are still healthy along with Brian Rafalski. And if Boyle's suspended for his hit on Jaroslav Spacek who thankfully wasn't hurt, oh joy. :P
Well, I wouldn't worry too much. Lundqvist should be better. So, we at least should have the edge there. Let's hope they carry forward how they played because on most days, it'll be good enough. Just not against Devils North.
BONY 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Scott Gomez, Canadiens (deciding goal at 18:34 of 2nd)
2nd Star-Martin Biron, Rangers (27 saves)
1st Star-Carey Price, Canadiens (35 saves incl. 19/19 in 3rd for 5th SHO)