The Rangers Game Log

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Blueshirts a Puzzle to Opponents

- A bit of a spotty effort by the Rangers against the Bruins last night, but an easy 5-2 win shows just how far the club has come. It was a bit of a strange game; of course, the presence of Brian Leetch in an opposing uniform – and #22 no less – was weird in itself. But the crowd was rather subdued at times, as the game was sometimes played in slow motion.

One of the fossilized local news personalities we see here in NYC is the venerable sportscaster Sal Marciano. Unlike other relics like weathermen Mr. G and Storm Field, and anchors like Chuck Scarborough and Ernie Anastos, on whom the layers of makeup in the effort to make you think it’s still 1975 are all too apparent, Marciano, who briefly did play-by-play for the team on Channel 9 in the 70’s, looks more naturally preserved than the others, and has barely changed after all these years. He's the Dick Clark of NYC local news.

Last night, Marciano noted that the Rangers had won three in a row after their “puzzling” six game losing streak. That skid seems long ago now, even though the three wins have come against middling (at best) opponents, and included perhaps their worst effort of the season, against the Caps. But really, in an 82 game season, there’s little puzzling about a streak in which, for the most part, the only real failure on the team’s part was to put the puck in the net. Those things happen in the NHL, and the fact that there was little in the way of defensive breakdowns, shows the remarkable consistency we’ve seen all year.

During the streak, I saw some people lament the fact that team has lost ten games in OT/SO, as well as 11 others by one goal, worrying that this somehow makes the team unsuited for the playoffs. But would you prefer for them to have been blown out instead? They’ve played 68 games, and in only 8 cases have they lost by more than one goal; and two of those were two goal defeats with empty net goals! That means that the Rangers have only been out of six games all year! That is unbelievable!! Do you really think that makes them a question mark for playoff hockey? And consider that coming into the season, we would have been happy just to see them be competitive. This team has almost not had a slump at all. It may be more appropriate to call the losing streak a ‘fluke’ rather than ‘puzzling;’ a stretch in which they ran into some hot goalies and in which Rucinsky himself blew enough golden opportunities, including his weak shootout attempt in Atlanta, for them to have won at least half of those games!

- Boston tried using defenseman Brad Stuart as a shadow on Jagr, and #68 seemed to have some fun with it in the third period. In one remarkable stretch, he seemed to say “shadow this, motherf-----,’ as he shrugged off the 6-2, 220 lb Bruin and controlled the puck for a good 30 seconds, finally taking it behind the net and leaving for Prucha, who made his nifty move to get free and set up Nylander for the easy goal.

- Lundqvist was great as usual, and came up with a huge save in the second, after the Bruins had cut the lead to 3-1 after a timeout. Boston broke in 2 on 1 after killing of a penalty, and King Henryk stoned Glen Murray on the pass-across shot; the biggest save of the game.

- With Jagr certain to draw more shadows as we move into the playoffs, the second line will be crucial, and the Rucchin-Sykora-Straka line looked sharp, giving Renney a decision to make when Rucinsky returns. Great work on the third goal, with Rucchin and Sykora passing the puck back and forth under pressure behind the Boston goal, and Rucchin getting his second nice assist of the night as he fed the puck out to Straka, who did a great job directing the puck to the tape with his skate and putting it home. Sykora failed to convert on two all-alone opportunities in the game – one on a gorgeous spin-o-rama pass by the offensively impressive Ozolinsh, and the other on a turnover created by Rozsival, who picked up a +2 to increase his season total to a very un-Ranger like +33. He also is showing more confidence on offense, moving into the slot to take Rucchin’s perfect pass for an important first goal after a sluggish Blueshirt start.

- Seven hits for Ryan Hollweg; and three for Kasparaitus, who leveled Dan LaCouture with a perfect hip check in the third.


  • At 11:11 AM, Anonymous throwaway said…

    If we put aside the issue of makeup, substantively I like Chuck Scarborough a hell of a lot more than Sal Marciano. Just wanted to get on the record with that.

    Actually, Marciano isn't particularly knowledgeable, so his statement doesn't surprise me. One thing I'll add when considering the Rangers as a playoff team: they'll enter the playoffs with strong special teams, strong goaltending, and a healthy mixture of scoring and grit in the lineup. I think that's a lot more telling than looking to the number of OT losses.

    On the Leetch issue, I'm with you as well. I clapped early, then turned the page. As I wrote on Blueshirt Bulletin, the fact that Rozsival was first star of the game tells you everything you need to know about the state of the Ranger union on this night, and how far they've come as a team.

  • At 11:33 AM, Blogger alan said…

    At least Marciano wasn't like the guy on Channel 2, some young stud, who said that it was Leetch's first game back since the Rangers "made the mistake of trading him." Talk about not knowing anything. And I could swear that he then called him "Leetchie-poo."

  • At 12:28 PM, Blogger Ruben Bailey said…

    I actually stumbled upon my FIRST NHL game of the year when I accidentally hit "32" on the 'mote and came up with OLN covering the Rangers game. It was interesting, I was decompressing after just walking in the door from work watching the game with my iPOD on listening to music.

    I caught the Rangers' 4th goal which was just an amazing play to watch and then had the good fortuen to catch the pretty unbelivable goal immediately after by the Bruins.

    It made me feel good to watch entertainig hockey again. Too bad it was the Rangers!!

    Note: It looked to me like the players just weren't moving that fast. It looked like they all were laboring to get up any kind of speed. I also noticed that the puck seemed to have a hard time staying flat on the ice and was taking weird caroms (sp?) off the boards.
    -Also, I liked how OLN put "Rankings" next to the temas names when showing the score on the way out to commercials:
    #13Bruins 2
    #3Rangers 4

    Jeez, even the NHL gets the importance of a rankings system!!

    Gosh I hate the Rangers!!


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