The Rangers Game Log

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Trap This

- Jacques Lemaire will never meet a set of new rules he can’t trap. With monsters such as 6’7” Derek Boogaard, 6’5” Alex Henry, 6’5” Marc Choinard on his roster, the Man Who Ruined Hockey has a veritable redwood forest with which to clog the neutral zone, and in a 1-1 game in the third, the Wild (one of three NHL teams whose team name doesn’t end with an ‘s) was sticking to the game plan.

But what’s this? The Broadway Blueshirts picking and wading their way through center ice with clever passing and skating patterns as if they’ve actually practiced this before!? After years of being jealous of teams that are 'well-coached,' the Rangers, under Tom Renney and his staff, finally qualify as such. We may get frustrated at times watching the power play, but at least it’s obvious that these guys are practicing this, and that in itself is a huge improvement from past years during which the team played very much like the random assortment of players that they were. Throw in fundamentals such as going to the net, and you have two Peter Prucha power play goals, and a big 3-1 win.

Yes, a big win. A must-win in my book. Oh man….a must-win in game 29 of a rebuilding season? In the context of a first place team that had gone off its game recently (though only losing once), and is going off for three road games in four nights, yes. And it was a full house at the Garden on a Monday night against a faceless, nameless, and downright boring opponent with perhaps the blandest uniforms in the league, yuck. You see? We told you we’d support a rebuilding team! :-)

- A lineup change, and as so often has happened this season, Tom Renney pushed the right buttons. The top line of Jagr-Straka-and Rucinsky replacing Nylander was buzzing around the net all night and, much to the chagrin of at least one fan I know, on the ice in the final minute of the game. Prucha joined Betts and the indefatigable Jason Ward to form what could be an intriguing combination, as Prucha could fit in well to their checking scheme as well as add some scoring punch on the third line. Nylander started out with Rucchin and Hossa, but he and Hossa took a seat for much of the third, as Renney shortened up and used Rucchin on the wing with Moore and Ortmeyer.

The penalty killing excelled again with five kills in as many tries, including an outstanding effort on their only one in the third period, with Rucchin getting a shorthanded chance, Ortmeyer taking the puck away in the offensive zone, and Kasparaitus, physically dominant all night, delivering one of his eight hits.

- Lundqvist seems to like playing at home. Here’s hoping that Weekes makes it back for at least one of these next three on the road.

- The Garden seems determined to milk every ounce out of the Malik shootout goal. Are you getting sick of it yet? Last night, it was one of three goals displayed on the scoreboard for fans to “vote” for as goal of the year, or something nonsensical like that, on their cellphone. Though that goal naturally won, I would have voted for Dominic Moore’s bank-in from behind the net with three seconds left in Florida, propelling the Blueshirts to a shootout win. It followed a depressing home loss to the Penguins, started the five game road trip on the right note, and was the beginning of nine wins in 11 games. The biggest goal of the year thus far, for sure, doncha think?


  • At 6:24 PM, Anonymous throwaway said…

    Several times this season, the Rangers have seemed on the verge of a collapse, and each time they've found a way to resume their winning ways. I think many of us are still having difficulty adjusting our mindsets to the reality of the moment, in light of our expectations coming in. I keep reminding myself to be patient, that the main objective is to allow some younger players to develop... and yet as the team continues to win, it's becoming more difficult to maintain an even keel. I see it in the postings on other websites: the team loses, and the reactions are highly charged. As the team wins, the stakes get higher, and the players and coaches will be subject to more demanding scrutiny. I like that Renney has made adjustments, particularly getting Nylander off that top line. And even if we can't all agree on who should be out there in the final minute of a 1-goal game, at least there seems to be some thought going into all this, which i guess is the point you're making.

    I, too, am Maliked-out. That 1st night, I loved watching the move, and his facial expression after it was priceless. But a 15-deep shootout goal is most definitely not the goal of the year, and it's time to move on.


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