The Rangers Game Log

Friday, November 11, 2005

Game 18 - Rangers 5 at Tampa Bay 2

Record: 10-5-3, 23 pts.
Last Year: 0-0-0, 0 pts.
Seen: On MSG
Conference Standings: Tied for third with Carolina, who have four games in hand.
Islanders: Fail to provide help for the Rangers by wasting a 2-0 lead in Philly, how's that for optimism? And for losing perspective? The Flyers have not lost at home since dropping the season opener to the Rangers.

- I find myself kinda at a loss for words this morning in the wake of the Rangers’ 5-2 win on the road against the defending Cup champs. A double digit win total puts a team in the league’s elite at this time of the year, so what’s going on here? In the space of 24 hours, they went from the brink of a disheartening second loss in a row to pulling away to a relatively easy 4th win in five games. The team didn’t get their tenth win last season until Dec 4, 2003, in their 26th game.

So, I thought I’d turn to the vanquished Lightning to provide their impressions of the surprise leaders of the Atlantic Division, the Flyers' four games in hand be damned.
"We sucked," Lightning coach John Tortorella said after watching the Rangers score four goals in the third period. "This game is different from the other ones. I don't think we played as poorly in the other losses." [Tampa Tribune]
Oh. OK, let’s see what the papers there had to say.
The Lightning coughed up a fur ball that would have choked Garfield during Thursday night's dreadful 5-2 loss to the Rangers…

First there were the missed scoring chances. Then the sloppy turnovers that helped serve up goals to New York on a silver platter.

To borrow an old joke, look in the dictionary under How to Lose and there will be a team picture of the Lightning.

And the Lightning might have hit bottom. [St. Petersburg Times]
Post-game assessments in any sport can be a funny thing; you rarely hear anything beyond a biased assessment of one’s own team’s performance, and one can often think that they’re reading about two different games based on the quotes coming out of the locker rooms and from the respective beat reporters.

In this case, it was obvious that the Lightning were sluggish in their fifth loss in a row. The contrast between them and the hard-charging though less talented Panthers from the night before was obvious. Yet, consider this: The visitors won despite perhaps the most ineffective game of the season from their top line and premier player. Jagr was credited with just one shot on goal; and not even any missed shots. Was I imagining that Renney replaced him with Petr Prucha in that familiar spot at the right faceoff circle on the Blueshirts’ final power play? Michael Nylander couldn’t finish a connect-the-dots puzzle these days. The top power play unit was awful again, with the only extra-man goal scored by Dominic Moore.

So just how impressive is it that the slack was ably picked up by guys like Moore, Prucha, plus two and an incredible sequence in which he made two sprawling blocks on three sprawling attempts, Maxim Kondratiev, displaying a strong physical element to his game, Fedor Tyutin, plus three on the night, Ville Niemenen, burying his breakaway opportunity, and Ryan Hollweg, with three hits and boundless energy that made it seem like he played more than the 6:45 he was credited with. And that they were able to overcome that disheartening sequence in which Nylander's double miss was followed by Leclavier's tying goal? Plus the usual flawless penalty killing by Ortmeyer, Betts, Rucchin and company. The team is getting scoring from all four of their lines across the board, and who would have thought that? A testament to the team effort is that the most memorable aspect of Lundqvist’s performance was the long pass he made to Marcel Hossa to set up Niemenen’s tally.

So what happens when Jagr starts to play well again? What’s going on here anyway?

- Now that Moore has already scored the three goals on this trip that I predicted, let’s try again. Despite the woes of the top line described earlier, Martin Straka is showing some good jump, and should net at least a pair before the Blueshirts return to MSG next Saturday. In addition, Marek Malik has been absolutely robbed on at least two occasions I remember, and seems to have a decent low shot that he gets on goal. Look for him to score one before the end of the calendar year.

- I hope this isn’t a bad sign, but the 2001-02 edition of the Broadway Blueshirts also won their tenth game on November 10th in their 18th game. It was a 4-2 win in Buffalo, the 4th win of a six game winning streak, as Mike York broke a 2-2 tie with second and third period goals, and Don Blackburn stopped 29 shots.

1 Comments:

  • At 10:05 AM, Anonymous throwaway said…

    Poor Moore -- little did he realize that after scoring his 2nd goal of the night, he'd already used up his goal allotment for the road trip!

    TBay isn't the 1st foe this season to complain about their own poor play -- i don't suppose it's possible that the often-relentless style of play from the Ranger forwards might have just a wee bit to do with it??? Back-to-back road games on consecutive nights, and the Rangers remained strong late -- very good sign.

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