Monday, November 21, 2011

N.Y. Rangers ~ Canadiens Deny Blueshirts Eighth Straight


NEW YORK RANGERS:  Sacre Bleu!  Montreal Halts Blueshirts' Streak at Seven.

Now that the winning streak is over, how we got to our seventh win is still worthy of discussing.  What else are we supposed to do between all these freakin' days off?  I know it seems like ancient history now, but do you remember that one-timer by Sean Avery off the rebound Islanders' goalie Ivgeni Nabokov left out on his front porch that started the Rangers on their way towards a 4-2 win over Long Island last week?  I do.

The twelve minutes Avery played against the Islanders are considerably more ice-time than Coach Torts usually issued Sean Avery in the past.  Since returning to the team, the forward is earning every second of ice-time he's received.  And his play has not been ignored with a blind eye.  Instead, Coach Torts paired Avery up with Brad Richards for a spell during the Carolina win and even gave the Zebras an earful in support of his forward when they asked Avery to leave the ice after being called for a highly questionable unsportsmanlike penalty just before the first period ended.  But fret not about that.  Avery has been well behaved and quite the effective player since donning a Blueshirt again.

Not in every case, but most times Coach has a strange tendency of shackling Avery the game after a good performance.  Against Montreal, his minutes dropped to nine, and outside of fill-in Andre Deveaux's six shifts, Avery's eleven shifts Saturday were least on the team.  But all his minutes came at even-strength.  That's a really good thing, with no penalties which is even better.  And because the Rangers put Montreal on the power play six times, that would explain a lot.  And that concludes this edition of the Avery/Torts report.

So what happened Saturday in Montreal besides....., nothing?  Nothing..., that's just it.  Nothing happened.  And I'm going to do the team, and Coach Torts a favor on this one, and blame it all on this ridiculous scheduling the Rangers have been forced to abide by this season.  It's been simply ridiculous! 

Forget the start in Europe and the Canadian tour that followed.  And put aside our long delayed home-ice opener.  Let's just start with the beginning of the Rangers' seven game winning streak.  From the October 31st win over San Jose through the November 11th win against Carolina, the Rangers played six games in twelve days.  Then the schedule started to rubber-neck on us.  Three days rest was fine after the previous stretch of games as the Rangers looked fresh against the Islanders last Tuesday as a result.  And there-in was the problem heading into Saturday's game against a skating team like Montreal.  Another three day break after stopping on Long Island didn't necessarily kill the Rangers' momentum more than another lengthy break left them flat and lacking the proper game speed to keep up with the Canadiens.  At least that's my opinion.

In two games, the Canadiens and Rangers took entirely different paths to victory.  In the game three match-up against Montreal during the seven game winning streak, the Blueshirts employed more blitzkrieg and crashing the net en-route to a rough-house 5-3 victory.  Saturday night in Montreal, the Habs just flat out skated circles around us, as we suffered through a shameful four goal shout-out.  The Rangers were drilling holes in the ice pivoting their skates in place all night long in a - "Which way do he go? - Keystone Cops-on-Ice kinda way."

I blame this rubber-necking schedule for that.  Because get this, we have yet another three day break before we show up in Florida to play the Panthers on Wednesday.  Then the schedule compresses again, and just in time if you ask me.  Two days after the Panthers, we stop in Washington before playing Philadelphia at home the very next day on November 26th. 

Sidney Crosby, who has finally made his return to the ice will be cleared and ready to play by Sunday, and should be fully functional by the time Pittsburgh invades Madison Square Garden on Nov. 29th.  By then, the Rangers should have re-established normal operations through a steady flow of games.  But then the schedule hits the Rangers hard in December with fifteen games in thirty days.  I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

In the mean time, Let's Go Rangers.


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