The Rangers Game Log

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Game 16 – Penguins 3 Rangers 2

Record – 8-5-3, 19 pts.
Last Year – 0-0-0, 0 pts.
Seen From: Sec 422/D/7
Islanders: Resting on the laurels of their 6-8 start.

- It was a full house at the Garden, and a lively Monday night crowd at that. Was the crowd there to see Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux? Or was there the kind of big walk-up crowd that reflects a growing excitement with a team that is winning? The first Monday game of the season, against Florida, was one of the smallest regular season crowds in memory; but now, the seats were filled and the fans were fully engaged. While I suppose that Crosby had something to do with that, I highly doubt the place would have been nearly as full if the Rangers were 3-12.

As far as the game goes, I'm putting this one in the "mama told me there'd be nights like this" category. While the execution at times left something to be desired, the team played hard and never quit after going down 3-0 against a fired-up Penguins squad that has now won three out of four on the road. They had 37 shots, and seemed to have to work hard for every one. The puck just was not bouncing their way on what seemed to be a very bad ice surface (though apparently not for Crosby), especially for Tom Poti, who drew the wrath of the crowd, for a change, for letting two dribbling pucks hop over his stick at the point.

Both occurrences came, of course, at the most inopportune of times for the luckless defenseman. The first time was off of a clean face-off win by Blair Betts at the start of a crucial power play with 3:47 left and the home team having drawn within one. It was a bad start, and it took around 50 seconds for the team to finally set up. Only Jagr got a shot on goal and as he did all night, Sebastian Caron gobbled it up without a rebound to spare. The second miscue effectively ended the game, coming with 12 seconds left and the Rangers scrambling for the tie with the extra attacker (Petr Prucha, in his only appearance of the third period).

It wasn’t only Poti the puck was bouncing around for. Seconds after the Blueshirts’ second goal, Jagr was fed a perfect pass in the slot for what looked like would be the equalizer, only to have the puck hop right over his stick. They would not have a similarly glorious chance for the rest of the night, but again, not for lack of effort.

However, it was another good night for Tom Renney, who did everything he could in the third period to try and bring his team back, and he pushed all the right buttons and almost pulled it off. He benched Prucha, who didn’t seem to have nearly the jump he did on Saturday, and replaced him with Ryan Hollweg, a dynamo all night, on the Rucchin line with Marcel Hossa. Hollweg responded with a goal and an assist; how’s that for bench coaching? He got his first NHL goal on an impressive one-time low screamer right through the five hole to get the home team on the board and back in the game soon after Weekes stopped Ziggy Pallfy on a penalty shot. And there he was, deservedly, on the ice in the final minute of the game.

Ville Niemenen was back and was moved up to the Jagr line in the third, with Straka moving alongside Blair Betts and Jason Ward. Dominic Moore still hasn’t scored against anyone other than Montreal, but had good jump and showed some nifty stop-and-go moves. I predict that he’ll score three goals on the upcoming five game road trip.

- As far as Poti goes, I'm usually willing to overlook the occasional miscue of a young defenseman who shows skating, stickhandling, and offensive potential. But this guy is now 28, and if he's not going to score 10-12 goals, chip in at least 25 helpers, and help direct the power play then I don't really see what the point is. He shows no signs of doing any of the above, and looks like a guy who could use a fresh start somewhere. Again.

- An ugly minus three for Michael Roszival. Hollweg had six shots on goal and was credited with four hits, though it seemed as if he had more. Moore was 8-4 on faceoffs.


  • At 8:28 AM, Anonymous throwaway said…

    The play of the defensemen was, i think, the worst it's been all year. A well-deserved minus-3 for Roszival -- his passing was atrocious all night. Malik was bad, particularly the way he froze on the Palffy goal. I thought Kondratiev was decent, and they should try to work him onto the powerplay to take advantage of his quickness nad his strong slapshot. As for Poti, I don't know what's more annoying: watching him repeatedly mishandle the puck, or listening to the angry-young-men in the crowd who seemed to take more delight in booing him than cheering the Ranger comeback. I agree that a change of scenery is in order, and will probably happen soon.

    Hollweg was all-world. That one shift where his line delivered about 4 or 5 hits in rapid succession, with the crowd erupting into a standing ovation, was chilling. I think he was with Betts and Ward for the 1st goal, before joining Hossa's line for the second -- i agree with you, again, on Renney's excellent adjustments.

    Question: was Hossa the one who got clobbered at the blueline as he received the Hollweg pass down the middle, right before Hossa's goal? If so, his ability to stay focused enough to score that goal is even more impressive.


  • At 11:26 AM, Blogger alan said…

    Hey, your boy 11 was there last night, did you see him? Seems almost unfair to those who are spending hundreds for his night on Jan 12. Like a free sneak preview.

    Yes, that was Hossa that got hit. He's impressed me at times during the last couple of games, and I guess the coaching staff is well-satisfied with him.

    And I agree, Malek had an excellent view of Ziggy's goal. One thing about Malek on the point is that the times that he does actually shoot, he seems to get it low and on net. Kondratiev made one horrible play on that last power play that I recall, but I'd like to see more of him there as well.

  • At 12:17 PM, Anonymous throwaway said…

    Yeah, there we were, expecting to see "Dancing Larry" up on the screen, when suddenly, Mess. appears -- great to see him, great crowd response.

    I think I know the Kondratiev play to which you're referring -- a kind of hesitant, half-pass that the Pens grabbed and took out of the zone. What I'm thinking, though, is that's more of an inexperience-type error; I still like his quickness, love his shot, and think they should give him some practice time there so he can grow into the role. In any event, some kind of adjustment seems in order for the PP.

    So that was Hossa who got his bell rung -- for him to then finish off the play the way he did says a lot.

    Prucha had an awful shift after he served the too-many-men penalty -- probably deserved to sit for awhile. Interesting, though, that Renney wanted him out there for the last push.

    Hope you're right about Moore. I watched him closely on the powerplay last night, and on that 5-on-3 the previous game, and I have a theory: though he's very good with the puck, I don't think he meshes well with Jagr, Straka, & Co. He actually looked a bit lost to me, in stark contrast to his usual presence. I would give him some PP time with some of the other wingers -- maybe the aforementioned Hossa, for instance -- and let him play within himself. The Jagr crew seems to have an instinctual connection that I wouldn't mess with, even if it means moving Straka to center if Nylander's hurting. I'd leave them in tact, and just spread the PP time a bit Moore.


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