Yesterday was Family Day at The Garden, Rangers brethren, one of the only opportunities this fall to bring your young'ens and inspire them to be a professional hockey player later in life; good clean family fun where they can cheer on their role models and you can reinforce all the New York Rangers propaganda we've been feeding them since they were babies.
Aside from the drumming the Edmonton Oilers took from the high scoring Rangers 8-2, the Garden fan-kids were treated to everything a good hockey game should have - the return of a former coach who helped bring back the Rangers to playoff glory & later shamed, a hat trick, eight renditions of the Goal Song, a bench brawl, the coach jumping into the action and a good old fashioned sucker punch. Good family values.
Official recap here.
|Gaborik defining 'dirty-goal'|
We must also tip our hats to the 'Return of Avery' - now known as Enemy Number One in Edmonton. The Oilers were already trailing by three goals in the final period of a long and disappointing five-game road trip when Avery really got them mad. Our revitalized agitator checked Oilers' Colin Fraser hard into the boards and, according to the Oilers, declined to fight Ladislav Smid when he was challenged. Avery eventually took the initiative of throwing a punch after Smid let down his guard when it seemed a fight wouldn't happen. - which if you watch the replay below, you will see that Smid dropped his gloves when he saw Sean accepting his offer and Edmonton is just what Dad used to call "a sore loser" making excuses for a kid on their squad trying to make a name for himself. The Avery element of surprise made way for sorry Oiler excuses.
|We usually save this behavior for Philly|
It was an easier night for backup Marty Biron, who gave Henrik Lundqvist some much needed rest for the Pittsburgh Penguin game tonight. Biron only faced 22 shots, but picked up another win proving that acquiring him during the off-season was the right move by Rangers management.
The game overall wasn't much of a challenge as the Rangers controlled most of the tempo, but it was 'made to look easier' by both Marc Staal and Dan Girardi's stellar defense. Both commanded their zones, controlled the neutral zone and stepped up offensively when needed. They both smoked Edmonton's #1 Draft Taylor Hall a number of times, making him look young and inexperienced, which by the looks of it, he is exactly that - young & inexperienced. Hall looks well below in comfort and talent than more recent number picks such as Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos. I'm sure in time he will blossom, unless Edmonton continues to drag their heels. The NHL brings out the best or worse in a player and he obviously has not adjusted well at this point in the season.
The Rangers are 9-7-1 this season, ranked 4th place in the Eastern Conference - and their crank-n-grind work ethic is finally getting some respect in the hockey blogosphere. We are surprising teams with 60-minutes of hockey - and Torts (over the last 2-3 games) is doing a pretty good job of letting them (finally) play hockey and duke-it-out when necessary. I have a feeling we're going to see more of this as the season progresses.
So Pittsburgh is tonight and we can all wipe that smile off our faces, as Henrik is back in goal and 'The Diver' Crosby makes his way into the Garden. We are supposed to win games against struggling teams like Edmonton and we did, but tonight we are only expected to play hard and give it our all -- and occasionally we win them. The Penguins always bring a physical game to the Garden, but this time they are playing a very different Rangers squad and tonight is their first meeting.
Let's bring it on, Blueshirts. Maybe Avery can show Crosby a good 'ole fashioned melee....