Thursday, November 11, 2010

NYRangers ~ Up and Down, Face Buffalo ~ NJD, NYI

Up And Down Play Could Feel Worse:
NYRangers ~ The Blueshirts have drifted back to .500 clutching a 7-7-1 record with white knuckles after getting shut-down by the Blues and then losing a free-for-all against the Capitals in the third period Tuesday night..  They are an injured squad with little to no room for errors.  That in a nutshell is Rangers' Hockey right now; having to play perfect hockey.

When you look back on the games they've played against the tougher teams in the League; Boston; St. Louis; Chicago; Washington; Philadelphia; - you see mixed results.  What the Rangers have done in this young season is take care of the Maple Leafs and the sedated Devils.  A loss against the Hurricanes was hard to swallow.  And the beating the Thrashers gave us was deflating.  That's our season.  We all saw this coming.  We knew we'd be an up and down team.  We knew because of our overall limited size especially on defense, lack of a shooting sniper on the wing and shortcomings at center.  We knew.

Even before injuries took their toll on this team, even going back to last season and camp this year, there's been a conversation about Brandon Dubinsky that no one wants to admit they were taking part in.  But like an 800 pound gorilla in the room wearing boxing gloves, the notion Brandon Dubinsky needed to be more to this club, especially this year, has been thumbing around and poking everyone in the back then looking away when we turn to see who's questioning someone so beloved by the fans.  No one was flatly willing to say Dubinsky needed to be a star right now.  They wanted to.  But he sure is playing like one just in time.

Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan are among League leaders in points; centered by Artem Anisimov and challenged by Coach Torts, they are becoming an effective 1st Line force.

Henrik Lundqvist showed up to MSG feeling ill tonight so Marty Biron will get the start.  He has been a good addition.  He's been a solid back-up in his few games played so far.  This will pay huge dividends for us in February and March if he continues his effective early showing.

The Rangers take on Buffalo tonight who won a wild game that ended in Shoot-Out last night over the New Jersey Devils.  Like the Devils, Buffalo is clearly struggling right now.  The Rangers are coming into tonight after Tuesday's loss to Washington but have a day's rest in hand.  Buffalo will be skating back to back nights, but should be feeling good after last night's victory.  But Buffalo's win last night only improved their record to 5-9-2.

Someone with whom it's been my pleasure interacting with recently (thank you Twitter), my new "Buffalo Insider" (yes you!), not too long ago shared with me his belief that the time may be upon the Sabres' management to break this group of core players up.  Coach Lindy Ruff is certainly not the problem with our Western Brothers.  But I'm certainly not looking for them to correct themselves tonight against the Rangers.  Tomorrow is fine Buddy!

Boogaard is a scratch for the Rangers tonight.  Tonight Marian Gaborik makes his return to the ice.


Buffalo Sabres

Madison Square Garden,
33rd Street and & 7th Avenue
New York City

Sabres    2
Rangers 3

Post Game ~ Battle of the Back-Up Goalies
Unbelievable!  Are hockey sticks made of peanut brittle these days?  Ryan Callahan had a wide open net in the 2nd period, took a shot off a pass when his stick fractured into pieces like an icicle.  That was just one moment of numerous opportunities either team had to put this game out of reach from each other.  Who ever got the third goal would win and both had incredible chances to get it in regulation time. 

In the Battle of the Back-Ups, however, no one did.  Buffalo's Ryan Miller did not play due to injury.  Henrik was sick so Marty Biron started and was stellar making 29 quality saves versus two against.  Biron literally and quite figuratively 'saved' this game for the Blueshirts.  The MSG crowd had a heart-attack moment at 4:10 of O.T. when the Rangers carelessly turned the puck over in the neutral zone giving the Sabres a two on one the other way.  Somehow Marty Biron thwarted that and a very short time later, Artem Anisimov would clean up a Girardi shot and find net for the winning goal.  But know well, Marty Biron made big saves all night long against his former team.

Marian Gaborik made his return to the ice tonight; a very welcome sight for the Blueshirts.  But the star of tonight's game after Marty Biron was C-Aterm Anisimov; my Duke!  He scored the Rangers' second goal tonight and wristed home the winning goal in overtime.

I think everyone one at MSG, at home watching and me included were waiting for the 3rd period meltdown.  But it never came.  Even when Brian Boyle got called for tripping at 6:06 in the 3rd period, the Rangers held tight and killed off the penalty bringing the clock down to 4:05.  Again, thank Biron.

At the 8:43 mark of the 3rd, the Rangers went on the PP but couldn't convert.  They went 0-5 on the power play tonight.  Buffalo goalie Enroth was equally up to the task tonight as was Biron.  he made very impressive stops all night long.

Fedotenko scored our first goal tonight and Artem Anisimov took care of the rest.  Upon the winning goal and the lighting of the lamp, Coach Torts pumped his fist in exultation, collected himself, then walked off into the MSG night;  Happy.

A BeDeviling Season Continues for New Jersey:
NJDevils ~ It's amazing what $100 million dollars can do to someone; namely Ilya Kovalchuk.  Of course I say that in jest but don't things like that always have a double sentiment.

In last night's shoot-out against Buffalo, Ilya Kovalchuk took his turn with the puck...and lost it.  He didn't get a shot on goal as he lost control of the puck then waived his stick in failure.  That vision of strange happen-stance is totally metaphoric of the strange season for the Devils thus far.  New Jersey has not won at home yet this season and Martin Brodeur sat out his second game nursing a shoulder which is so unDevil-like.  This season has been nothing short of Chiller Theater at The ROCK.  It's been that Devilish for them.  You might have to go back to the early 80's to see worse play from a Devils team.

They scored four goals last night but they've been haunted by bad defense all season and last night they got the Black Cat Treatment suffering a bit of Bad Luck.

Coach Mac can only be thinking, 'What's Next?'


Long and Winding Road; Can't Wait To Get Home:
NYIslanders ~ They have lost their last eight games in a row.  It seems as if they've been on the road forever.  The Islanders have played only three home games in the last epoch.  They are still on the West Coast itching to get back to the Island; I'm sure.  This road trip has been nothing short of disastrous for them.

As a matter of fact, the last time I commented on the Islanders in the earliest days of this season, I believe I called them the best team in the Metro the moment, that is.  That's what the win/loss records said.  Since then, the ice under their skates has melted and they're sinking like a bag of rocks.

Tonight they play San Jose and Los Angeles Saturday.  Then finally, they can come home to heal their wounds and play a home game against Tampa Bay.


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