Battle of the Hudson - III
Game One ~ NYR 4 NJD 1
Game Two ~ NJD 3 NYR 2 S.O.
Series tied 1-1
New Jersey Devils
NEW YORK RANGERS
Sec. 417 on the 8th Avenue Side
NEW YORK RANGERS: This Time The Devils Are Entering Hell's Kitchen.
After splitting two games at The Rock, the Devils can expect a most unwelcome reception Tuesday night at the Garden. The memory of the January 31st shoot-out loss to Marty Brodeur is still fresh on Ranger fan's minds; mine included. And I'll be one hand to help the crowd make sure he knows we didn't appreciate it. The Garden was HOT Sunday afternoon for the Flyers game. So I'm expecting no less Tuesday night when the Devils arrive. Brodeur might also want to bring an umbrella. It's going to be raining down "Maaaarty!!" in buckets. He knows it. He's "having fun again" remember? Although, I do appreciate the Devils tenderizing the Flyers for us by drubbing them with six goals -before letting them back in the game that is; if only cosmetically though. And for that, thanks.
But last game against the Rangers, the Devils looked a lot like the team the Rangers were last season. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. For the most part, the Rangers have steered clear of over-time and shoot-outs this season. The Devils meanwhile look familiar to us, as they almost hope to get games beyond regulation and there-by give Brodeur a chance at winning it for them as a matter of strategy. It's a tough in-season debate to argue - there are no shoot-outs in the playoffs. But you need to win shoot-outs in order to make the playoffs.
This much is established - Coach DeBeor knows what he's doing. And this is fact - The Devils have sixty three points. Are they the Devils team that spanked Philly just before the Rangers did? Or are they the Devils team that took the Rangers to shoot-out last week? The answer is, it doesn't matter. The Devils won them both. But we both spanked Philly. I don't know what that means but if you're a Devils Fan, you can't be dissatisfied with their present standing. And if you're a Rangers fan, you can't ignore we still have four games left against New Jersey.
In our last meeting together, Marty Biron was within seconds of securing a win for the Blueshirts. It was one of those things when the term "things didn't bounce our way" applies. The fact Marty Biron started in goal and not Henrik Lundqvist surprised many. It's not the way they've always worked the match-up. But then, Henrik was returning from the All-Star Game. Henrik plays Tuesday; no doubt.
I thought coming back from the break to a shoot-out loss was interesting. I "kinda" predicted that loss. But in my last post I also said I deal in trends. I said talk to me in a week when we meet the Devils again and we'll see how things went. Since saying that, the Rangers went on to play an intense and really overall great game by both teams in Buffalo. Rangers won in shoot-out 1-0. And then.., Yeah - and then came our turn against the Flyers. See below. So it's safe to say we've had a good week, not to mention seized upon another game that as fans, we really, really want to win.
Look What We Did to the Flyers... Again!
Nov. 26th ~ NYR 2 PHI 0
Dec. 23rd ~ NYR 4 PHI 2
CLASSIC ~ NYR 3 PHI 2
NYR 5 PHI 2
Hey, if I were Philly, I'd be upset too. After what the Devils did to them? Then not being able to beat the Rangers this season? It's enough to drive any seemingly good team mad. Just driving on the N.J. Turnpike alone drive can drive a person nuts. Then giving up eleven goals in two games? Now we're talking rage. And as this is the Philadelphia Flyers we're talking about, when civility fails, for them there's always the next best thing; violence.
But before going "there", the Flyers have issues. They are clearly not the same without Daniel Briere or Chris Pronger. And not for nothing, both their goalies suck. There is no kinder way to say it. Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky are litter bugs leaving all kinds of garbage around the net for other teams to clean up. Good luck with that. But then again who cares. It's the Flyers.
Sometimes teams deserve a 5-2 drubbing. Because if you're a Rangers fan; and worse yet, an older Ranger fan; then you know since they day of their inception into the League, their team has long lacked comportment. And surprise, from the start of Sunday's game, Philly looked determined to reduce the level gamesmanship to Southern Hockey League lows or Roller Ball. Yeah, I said that.
They say adversity reveals character. On the way to their fourth loss against the Rangers this season, the Flyers flung the curtains open and exposed themselves. They acted like Bullies who get exposed when you slap them on the nose and cry. That's right; a slap; an open hand slap - because to a man, that's more embarrassing. What the Real Housewives of Broad Street can't achieve through skill, professionalism, respect for the game, and the will to compete, they look to achieve and take through on-ice belligerence. See Tom Sestito about that. But it is what it is. They've been like that for decades.
Only this season, they keep coming up against the New York Softies; not to be confused with the old Smurfs. Coach Tortorella stomped those little blue creatures out of MSG like they were roaches invading his kitchen. And ever since the Rangers relieved Philadelphia of first place in Atlantic Division back on December 23rd, the Rangers quite literally have never looked back. The days of looking over their shoulder for fear of some Flyer player up to no good are additionally gone. Tortorella's Rangers hit back. Tortorella's Rangers have actually grown a liking to fisticuffs. Coach Torts' Rangers lead the League in Fighting Majors. And Sunday, Coach's guys gave the Broad Street Babies back their fair share.
A game like Sunday's begs one more question - Hey Joe Thornton, How Do You Like Us Now? While Joe Thornton has nothing to do with the Flyers, the San Jose Sharks' forward called the Rangers (paraphrased) the softest team he ever played. I'll tell you what Joey - keep your Sharks in first place and hopefully both teams get lucky enough to give you a chance and tell the Blueshirts that to their faces next time. But that's potentially for the Spring; - Maybe. But sometimes you get what you ask for.
In more pressing Blueshirt matters, ask and ye shall receive. Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, and Ruslan Fedotenko, have all been called on the carpet recently as the Rangers will most definitely need more scoring down the stretch. And the truth is, the trade deadline looms ahead. But right on cue, Anisimov, Fedotenko, and Dubinsky all scored Sunday. Marian Gaborik added his 26th of the season. And Michael Del Zotto rounds out five goal scorers against Philly.
The New York Softies are at seventy-one points and counting. They lead the Eastern Conference by three points over Boston. And..., they own the stingiest Defense in the NHL.
The bad news? Against Philly, the Rangers were 0 for 5 on the Power Play and remain sterile; as in unfruitful. I've started to refer to the PP as them being on the Pendulum Play. Because all they do is pass around the perimeter and the defense merely has to shift left, shift right, and shift left again - repeat as necessary. All the while, the Rangers get little to no shots off, and that's only if they establish the zone. What the Rangers do not do on the power play is get heads turning around - they don't get different players looking in different directions. And they certainly do not get different defenders skating to recover their assigned area. The Rangers allow teams to stay in a turtle shell where all four P-Killers move as one and react as one.
How do you change that? A) - Pass and move without the puck. That's when the cross ice pass works most effectively. The Rangers pass and just stay in place around the perimeter. B) - Just take shots and look to clean up in front. Stop playing for the perfect pass. C) - Play from behind the net more. That gets the defenders looking at the back boards and away from the guy in the slot. Those are just some of my ideas.