Rangers Get Wake-Up Call, Win 4-3

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The New York Rangers got a major wake-up call from the New York Islanders after being down 2-0 after the first period. There was a severe lack of urgency and they played quite listless. The wake-up must have occurred in between periods, because in the 2nd period it was all Rangers.

Skating, forechecking, hitting, and scoring 3 straight goals to take control of the game. The big guns who had gone MIA for the last few games came through. Vinny Prospal's quick wrist shot cut the Islanders lead in half and really was a big goal. If the Islanders had gotten the score to 3-0, it might have been all over for the Blueshirts. From there, Olli Jokinen tied it up on a steal from Kyle Okposo that surprised net minder Dwayne Roloson. By the way, that was Jokinen’s first goal in the last 15 games! Where’s he been? Just asking… Marian Gaborik, who I thought played very well, had a little jump in his game and put up his 40th goal of the season on a nice feed from Aaron Voros. Voros did all of the dirty work in order to set up Gaborik on this goal. The Rangers totally dominated the 2nd period and took all of the momentum that the Islanders had built up. In the third period, Marc Staal scored off of a nice feed from Vinny Prospal to make the score 4-2. Later on, the Islanders cut the lead to one- but the Rangers shut them down for the victory. It was a big win, for sure.

However, this game was not without its problems. They had a slow start, dumb line changes, and selfish penalties. All of these factors could have easily cost the Rangers the game. This kind of stuff can’t and shouldn’t happen this late in the season. The Blueshirts did show some resolve though in fighting their way back to take the game from the Islanders (who were fired up from getting embarrassed last game at MSG, 5-0). The best players were the best players tonight as well. It was nice to see them bounce back from a terrible OT loss to the Leafs.

The job ahead is not going to be without peril. The Rangers need to play with desperation in mind and they have got to win their games- no questions asked. Waiting for help from other teams is out of their control. Obviously, they will need help somewhere- but it won’t matter one bit unless the Rangers take care of their own business. Onto Tampa Bay next, this is gonna be fun! Over and out!


Well, Well, Well...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Just when you think it’s over for the Rangers, the boys in blue turn around and defy the odds to come back into the NHL’s Eastern Conference playoff race. How? First, they dismantled a New York Islander team at MSG Wednesday by a score of 5-0. I know people will say that they beat a team that has “packed it in” and all that. However, it was a dominant performance in a game where the Rangers really needed the victory. Gaborik was big in this game with 2 goals and 1 assist. Artem Anisimov, Michael Del Zotto, and Dan Girardi all figured in the other tallies for the Rangers. Lundqvist was sharp when needed- stopping 27 shots for his 3rd shutout of the season. If that outcome had any meaning, it would have to show the next night as the Rangers headed over the river to take on their hated rivals, the New Jersey Devils.

The Rangers showed great will and determination by fighting their way through a tough game. With their playoff aspirations on the line, the Rangers pulled through with a dramatic 4-3 shootout victory at “The Rock”. Chris Drury (yes, the Captain!), scored what would turn out to be the goal of the season (if the Rangers were to make the playoffs). With 16.8 seconds left in regulation, Erik Christensen found Drury in front of the net with a feed and Drury buried it to send the game to OT. Wow! That was all I could think as Drury slammed home the “playoff hopes” for the Rangers. From there, both teams had decent chances in OT, but couldn’t capitalize. Onto the shootout we went! Erik Christensen, who played a great game, started the shootout with a fantastic goal. The goal took replay to confirm, but the move he made on Brodeur was beautiful. That, my friends, turned out to be the game winner as King Henrik stopped all 3 attempts by the Devils. The Rangers left the Rock with what could be the most pivotal win of the season. I know it won’t be easy, but the Rangers have a chance (and a good one at that) to make the playoffs. 6 games on the road, 2 at home- with all the teams being played being very beatable. While on the flipside, Boston, Philly, and Atlanta all have much tougher schedules to contend with! There’s a song that I used to listen to when I was a teenager and still do… it’s by guitarist Johnny Winter, “Still Alive and Well”. The Rangers are still alive, the well part is yet to be determined… stay tuned!

I did attend both of the past two games and I met some really good people on both nights (Thanks to our good friend, Larry “Ratso” Sloman)! My wife Lisa and I had the great fortune to meet and hang out with Peter Criss of the Kiss fame. That’s right! Kiss! We also met Rob Echeverria (Helmut and Biohazard), a guitarist who is a die-hard Rangers fan. Peter was at his 1st ever NHL game at MSG according to Rob. I think we have a new hockey fan! Fantastic time in meeting them! We shall meet up again.

In New Jersey, the wife and I were privileged to attend the game as guests of two good friends: Jeremy and Lori Lont. They invited us to witness the Devils/Rangers game in a luxury suite. We had a fun time, of course. We also had fun talking hockey with Jeremy’s brother, Josh. Although on this night we were surrounded by Devils fans, it was a great night all around! Over and out!


Rangers Lose, Still Alive

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Two of the biggest games for the Rangers all season… first, Montreal on Tuesday and second, St. Louis. The result? 3-1 and 4-3 losses. Most importantly, 0 points.

I was present for the Montreal game and honestly there were only 2 Rangers who even bothered to show up to play that night: Sean Avery and Henrik Lundqvist. The rest of them took the night off. It was very disappointing.

Now, onto the Blues game. I have to admit, the Rangers were obviously more engaged. However, in the end, the results are what count and the result was another loss in a game that had major playoff implications. I keep beating a dead horse… but as usual, the home record is awful. These last two games did nothing but add to the disappointing record at MSG. There’s really no use to give a total run down of this game. I watched it and you watched it. Although, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a big shout out to that great “Euro Style” 5 on 3 PP that the Rangers had in the 3rd period. Keep on passing it! How about, oh… I don’t know… shooting the damn puck?! What a concept: shooting the puck! I think too often we get all happy when we see that “Euro Style”/pretty passing work on a PP. But really, haven’t you had enough of players giving up shots for the extra pass? It’s sickening to watch how much it’s influenced this great game. Like the “Big Whistle” Bill Chadwick used to say, “Shoot the puck, Barry!” If Bill was alive today, it would be, “Shoot the puck, Rangers!”… God rest his soul!

Well, off to Beantown they go. Hey, the road has actually been better for the Rangers this year than playing at MSG (I still don’t get that). So you never know… do ya?

Lastly, I’d like to give thanks to the Quinnipiac Bobcats for another great season. Although it didn’t end the way we all wanted it to, it was a good ride while it lasted. I’d also like to give a special shout-out to my man Bill Schweizer, the voice of the Bobcats. As usual, I had fun working by your side. Over and out!


The Defense Rests

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

While I was away last weekend working the Bobcats games, the Rangers dropped 2 games in a row. One to Washington by a score of 2-0 and the other a 2-1 OT loss at home against the Buffalo Sabres. So, heading into “The Rock” for the cross-river battle with the Devils, I was thinking… “Okay, if the Rangers could create some scoring, they have a good chance at winning” (Wins would be good at this point of the year, wouldn’t they?). So what happens? The Rangers come up with a dud of a game defensively. It was quite simply: horrible.

No backchecking, giveaways, too many odd man rushes, and absolutely no support for Henrik Lundqvist. Oh, did I mention the score? 6-3 final in favor of the Devils. You know, that offensive juggernaut of an NHL team. I’m not going to go over every goal and really, why should I? It’s simple. When you play sloppy on the defensive side of your game, you deserve to get pummeled on the scoreboard. The games are dwindling down for the Rangers and wins are what they need. The next 4 games will tell the story of this years squad. It’s sink or swim time!

Now, I really want to discuss the “hot topic” of the NHL at this moment: head hunting and blindside hits. The GMs and NHL brass are in conference as we speak and they have come up with a half-assed rule that will be in the NHL’s upcoming 2010-11 season. Well, let me be the first to tell you… I’m sick of all the crybabies who scream out about every hit in the NHL. Yes, some hits are dirty and cheap. The problem is the monster that was created by all of the NHLs rule changes. Has anyone asked why so many hits like this have occurred? All one has to do is think back to the post-lockout thirst to open up the game. They eliminated obstruction (hooking, holding, interference). At the same time there was chatter for ending fighting, so the instigator rules were to be enforced more. So what did all these rule changes provide the NHL... High scoring hockey? Nope. Numerous 50 goal scorers? Nope. What it did is provide the NHL with a problem. A lack of respect amongst its players. That is why you have all the questions and crying about hits (that are for the most part legal). The NHL will not let the players police their own when these situations occur.

First, if a player reacts to what one feels is a dirty hit or play, it will cost that player a truck load of money in fines/suspensions. Secondly, this is where the lack of player respect comes in… If you know no retaliation is coming, what fear do you have as a player? None! Lastly, the players have a responsibility to understand that this is a physical game played at a high speed. It doesn’t give you the right to admire your pass or shot for too long- or you will get destroyed. It’s as simple as that! A message to the players: Keep your head up! You must know your opponent and who is capable of taking your head off. The last part is the most important to me. If you are not aware of who’s on the ice when you are on, then shame on you! Hockey is not just about skill. Hitting is and always will be part of the game… I hope.

Well, I’ll be in Troy, NY this weekend where the Quinnipiac Bobcats will take on the Union Watchmen in a ECAC quarter-final round (best of 3). My man Bill Schweizer and myself will do the radio broadcast at 7:00 PM on AM 1220 WQUN. If you get a chance, listen in! Friday and Saturday for sure.. And maybe Sunday for a potential Game 3. Over and out!

Bobcats Radio Link: http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x981.xml


Olympics and the Rangers

Monday, March 1, 2010

Wow! What a way to end the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. In a big showcase game, Canada defeated a tough and stubborn USA squad by a score of 3-2 in an OT thriller. Sidney Crosby found a way to win it for the Canadian team with a quick shot that beat a surprised Ryan Miller at the 7:40 mark of the OT. The reason the OT session was even needed was because the USA squad (that could have folded numerous times) came back from a 2 goal deficit to tie it up with the goalie pulled and 6 attackers on the ice.

I have to tip my hat to Team USA- big time. They probably where the most consistent team throughout this tournament and it showed how much the gap has closed on all of their opponents. Individually, Ryan Miller (MVP) showed the hockey world that he is the best goaltender in hockey today. Rangers fans might disagree, but if he’s not… who is? As for team Canada, the pressure was enormous and somehow they got the job done! At times they were the most dominant team (see the Russian game) and at times they were not so good.

One thing that I will take away from these Olympics is that North American hockey still rules the world as proved by Canada and the USA (in both the Olympics and the World Juniors). I was extremely happy to see the USA and Canada battle for the gold. It was fast, tough, highly skilled, and physical hockey. Just the way the fans want it. I’m pretty sure if you asked the players, they would agree as well. I hope the NHL takes a good look and figures out a way to get rid of the silly rules and just let the players play!

As for the New York Rangers, a game is coming up at Ottawa on Tuesday. I know the players who didn’t participate in the Olympics have been practicing and getting ready for the big playoff push. I’m sure there’s a few questions that need to be answered: How bad is Gaborik’s injury? Can Lundqvist carry the load down the stretch (Goaltender Alex Auld was picked up)? Will the Olympic break help or hurt the Rangers? What trades are on the table with the trigger ready to be Pulled? It goes on and on.

One thing is for sure- the New York Rangers will have to play better than they have been all season. Currently they are out of a playoff spot with 20 games to go… .500 hockey will not cut it! Stay tuned. Over and out!


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