NYRangers ~ Wednesday night's first game of two in the Sunshine State didn't go so hot:
Things didn't go so hot for the Rangers in Tampa Wednesday and after the game Coach was pretty steamed. I don't blame him either. The final in Tampa was 5-3 but that's deceptive. It wasn't that close. The Rangers could do nothing to get in Tampa's way and Henrik Lundqvist paid the price for them
It looked as if the Rangers were skating with cement shoes for most of the 60 minutes against Tampa. Lightning skaters kept streaking past Ranger players on their way to the net and harassing Henrik Lundqvist.
Harass him they did; in two's, three's, four's and five's. They descended upon the crease like ants upon fallen ice cream in the playground. They bumped Henrik, hit him; knocked him over and with ease and frequency, scored on Henrik. As the Lightning skated by us and broke some ankles along the way, they put on a passing clinic and put 5 pucks past Lundqvist in two lopsided periods.
There was a point when it appeared certain Henrik would be pulled and Biron inserted "back" in net. But Henrik and Torts seemed to work that out as he stayed in and finished the game. The fact is Henrik had zero help from anyone dressed in blue last night. With a look around, pigeons could be seen landing on the shoulders of numerous Ranger players. They were that lethargic. It seemed as if they were skating in place when viewed against the Lightning's tempo.
That's what had Coach Torts so angry. Henrik was a one man team against the Lightning's best players with his defense offering little to no help in front of him and, where Tampa's best players were impacting the game in a most positive way, the Rangers' top players were as effective as trying to break down a door with a pillow.
After the game, Coach Torts had little problem insinuating Marian Gaborik needed to play like this team's star along with others needing to pulling their weight. Coach Torts let Henrik stay in the game as he put the full blame of 5 goals on the defensive effort and it's shortcomings. And Coach Torts also killed any notion the beat-writers might have had as they eluded to a possible looming goalie controversy. He demanded a media member not create something that doesn't exist..(regarding a goalie controversy). Before Q&A ended with Torts, he did offer the other side of the coin saying he is well aware some of his guys are dog-tired.
The Rangers will be taking on the Florida Panthers today on Black Friday and the question I think that might be on a lot of fan's minds is who will get the start in net against the Panthers? I have no problem with giving Biron another start, but I think what's best right now is if we ride Henrik through a rough patch on the road and, as Torts, eluded, get him straightened out.
After coming down with the "flu" and missing a few games, Henrik came back with a stellar performance in his first game back but followed that up with a stinker versus Colorado. This performance against the Lightning was his first start in a couple of games while Biron was shining; result...another stinker.
Marty Biron has been great as the "back-up". He has won five games and four in a row (5-1 record). Since the time Henrik got sick, Biron has been simply stellar. It's only natural a reporter would ask about the goalie situation. He just used the wrong line of questioning and Torts nailed him on semantics. While Biron has been very solid in net, we all know Henrik is the starting goalie around here.
Hopefully Black Friday only has relevance to Holiday bargain shoppers and doesn't signify another dark night in Florida for the New Yawkers. A game against the Panthers like the one they just played against the Lightning and Torts might be inspired to make the Blueshirts skate all the way to Nashville for their next match-up against the Predators.