- An article in the Chicago Tribune yesterday speculated that last night’s game could be Jaromir Jagr’s final appearance there, since due to the unbalanced schedule, it’s possible the Rangers won't make another appearance in Chicago for five or six years
. That would be a shame, as would the prospect of our not seeing the Blackhawks or Red Wings at the Garden for a similar period of time. I know I’m sentimental about the Original Six, and that fans in the other 24 NHL cities, as well as anyone born after 1957 or so, probably couldn’t give a rat’s ass about it. But personally, I’d like to see an arrangment akin to that in baseball, in which traditional and/or inter-city rivals such as the Mets and Yanks are guaranteed to meet in a home-and-home series each year. (I’m actually strongly opposed to interleague play in baseball, but that’s a subject for another blog.)
I know that could create some competitive disadvantages (or advantages), as this year, for example, the Rangers would have to play the Red Wings twice, while most other teams would not. But I’d still be in favor, in an attempt to preserve just a little of the history and tradition of the sport. And no third jerseys allowed.
- OK, officially, it’s a “loss,” but check out other sites if you’re looking for a lot of negativity. It sucks that the Rangers couldn’t get the extra point; sucks that they lost in the overtime, that Rucinsky got that double minor, and it especially sucks that the power play sucked; clearly, that was the main reason for only getting a point. However, in this case, I’m going to try and keep the proper perspective here. Other than the power play, I have nothing to complain about. The Blueshirts played at a high level throughout, with crisp and clever passing, consistent pressure and solid defensive play. They hit three posts, and Khabibulin was pretty spectacular in the nets, especially in the third period, when the Rangers out shot the Hawks 15-5; he robbed Tom Poti, who made a nifty move in front after some excellent work along the boards by Nylander, and stopped Jason Strudwick point blank from the slot.
I was quite surprised to see Renney break up Blair Betts and Jason Ward, but the combos of Ward-Nylander-Prucha, and even Betts-Hollweg-Orr functioned well; the latter was even on the ice in the last 90 seconds of regulation! Hollweg made a nice play on his breakaway in the second, but Khabibulin came up big. And the fact that Kondratiev, who is getting better and better, was a healthy scratch, is a testament to the depth of a defense corps which was widely perceived to be the weak link of the team before the season.
And I’m not even going to criticize Poti for rushing up ice while shorthanded in overtime, even though the visitors couldn’t recover in time to prevent the winning goal. This is the one situation in the new NHL that a team can truly settle for a point – being on the road against a Western Conference team in the 30th game of the season, there’s little risk involved in taking chances to win even if it leads to ceding a point to the other team (unless you think the Rangers are likely to face the Hawks in the finals). It’s been said that 4 on 3 can be even more dangerous than 5 on 3, and facing that situation for four minutes in overtime, I thought Poti did nothing wrong by trying to generate a scoring chance; disagree with me if you’d like. The prospect of beating Khabibulen on this night in a shootout even if they somehow managed to survive the power play was iffy at best. So it’s too bad that it didn’t work out, but in this case, save the Poti venom for another time.
- At one point in the game, Sam Rosen said “Babcock shoots it in, and John’s cellphone rings!” I thought he’d announce a big trade or something newsworthy, but it was a big letdown. Rangers Game Log
has learned that it was actually his wife, who had just, for the first time, seen Bobby Granger cutting her favorite tie in half.
- Facing the three road games in four nights, I figured before the trip that I’d be happy with three out of six points. Having gotten one last night, and with the awful Blues coming up on Saturday, tonight’s game against Nashville is NOT that big of a game. Well? Not every
game on an 82 game schedule is a must-win. A loss tonight would be rendered meaningless by a win on Saturday, so my advice is this (especially considering that the Predators have lost only four times in regulation this year): If you need to show your significant other that he or she is really
more important than your favorite hockey team, this is the night. Take him or her to that special restaurant or romantic film, tell them how special they are and shower them with affection. “What? A stupid hockey team more important than you? HA!
That should carry you through at least until the new year. I’ll find another game for you after that.