NYR 2, NJ Devils 4
It's safe to say I personally had a sh*tty day. Watching the game tonight made it even sh*ttier. Go here for the official recap.
NJ Devils goaltender Marty Brodeur won for the first time in 10 regulation matches at The Garden while playing goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist, as the New York Rangers (now 7-3-0) lost their second in a row at home. Why you might ask? Because Marty earned it. Tough to say, but Fatty (or Farty) was the dominant goalie tonight. As for Lundqvist, he made 21 saves and the Devil's game winning goal was Henrik's to stop -- a 'throw it toward the Blueshirts goal, block and piddle in between Henry's pads shot' by NJ's Dainius Zubrus ended Henrik's reign over Oily Brodeur at The Garden. Mind you, our puck moving defenseman found themselves ineffectively losing the puck in the offensive zone while Devil snipers left them behind to carry multiple '3 on 2's' & '2 on 1's' against The King all night.
The end was a mess.
The opening of the game looked promising, as the Blueshirts aggressively opened the first period with a physical forechecking type of game, obviously looking to rebound from Monday night's embarrassing, horrific and exposing loss to the San Jose Sharks. As pointed out this week in this blog, Monday's loss was a blueprint for how to play our New York Rangers, and The Devils certainly read those plans and jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Parise and Bergfors.
The 2nd period was owned by the Blueshirts, as Gaborik scored his seventh of the season at 1:47, just seven seconds into a power play, to cut the lead to 2-1. Vinny Prospal won the faceoff back to the point, where Kotalik drew the defense and slid the puck to Gaborik. His sniper's shot bounced off traffic in front and past Brodeur. With 5:35 to go in the second period, the Rangers turned defense into offense. This was the turning point. The great coaching Torts equalizer philosophy was in the house!
Despite a high-goal scoring and puck possession level of play, the Rangers have exposed serious deficiencies in their blueline. Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival have stepped up their game considerably in the last four games -- the newbies get a pass as they've put the Blueshirts in a winning ranking to start -- and all D-men have shown that they adapt to Torts system well (more Redden, less Rozzy), but we are still missing the stay-at-home-defenseman, the stud, who controls the neutral zone. When the D-men fail to capitalize on scoring goals, the forwards (Prospal, Kotalik, Higgins, Anisimov) panic to get back to defend the blueline. The men in back can play up front, but the goal scorers are not conditioned to play back and have been relying on the defense to cover all grounds. This will soon be a bigger problem for our Blueshirts as every subsequent team will learn from the tapes.
This Saturday we meet a taste of the old Rangers, a meeting with Scott Gomez and Paul Mara of the Montreal Canadiens -- who this evening won their first game at home against the Long-ga-Islanders. There are rival battles throughout the season (like tonight) and there are games that we are expected to win. In looking at both of the teams, where they stand and what they've earned, the Rangers are expected to beat the Habs.
Leave it to Torts, Henrik and Marion Gaborik. If they won't figure it out, no one will. Shuck is off, Rangers brethren -- this one hurts but it's only one game against those Jersey 'what exit?' Schmucks!
Hey Marty, now go enjoy a victory steak and lots of creamed spinach with mushrooms. You deserve it plumpy!