Monday, November 22, 2010

She Loves Me Not, She Loves Me

Fri  NYR 1,  Avalanche 5   Recap here.
Sat  NYR 5,  Minnesota Wild 2,  Recap here.

It was a wild weekend of hockey for us Rangers fans, as much fun as having your girlfriend break up with you and one day later having her beg to have you back.  In other words, 'rebound love'.   Now hold on Rangers, I'm not suggesting anything dirty like the pat-down you're all going to receive at your neighborhood airport this holiday season, I'm referring to the hate & love of Rangers hockey that we all felt within a 24-hour period.

Friday night against the Colorado Avalanche will never be explained, as the Blueshirts decided that the altitude was good reason to not show-up and play hockey - where a scoreless first period was followed by the Avalanche lighting the lamp four times, our King Lundqvist letting in 3 softies out of 16 shots and soon after replaced by surprisingly stellar backup goalie Martin Biron.  By the time Biron took goal, the rest of the team was deflated and there was absolutely nothing that could be done to revive the scoreboard in our favor. 
"I felt like everything went their way in the second period and that kind of killed the game," Lundqvist said. "I didn't think we were that bad. We needed a couple more saves to keep us in the game but we didn't get them tonight."
Scary bad Henrik in net
Well for once, I disagree with Henrik's assessment.  Coming off the Boston loss last Wednesday and Lundqvist taking responsibility for what probably was his worst focused game of the season, the three goals on Friday night scored against him were stoppable and it is worrisome.  Is it fair to suggest that the more he sits, the softer he gets?  Larry Brooks of The Post posed an interesting article over the weekend, questioning Lundqvist's ability to play in a two-goalie system (go here).

The game against Colorado 'was what it was' - a bad game.  We 'shat the bed' and let's move on.

So Saturday couldn't have arrived any sooner as the Blueshirts arrived as well.  It was the return of Marian Gaborik and as part of Minnesota's greeting, the Wild brass handed out overstocked Gaborik bobble-heads in his Minnesota jersey to everyone at the arena -- a clever little joke gone awry by management, as we stalked them, played as a team and made a 'Wild fool' of their obnoxious psychological giveaway act --- all goals without Marian.  Ha! 

Saturday's game was the parallel opposite to the night before, where on both nights the first period both teams looked strong and solid  - East Conference meets West Conference and the courting before the kill; the second period the Rangers took control scoring four lovelies in a row, one of them a delicious Derek Stepan feed to Michael Del Zotto's coming up the chute goal.  These goals were solid goals, none of them were soft, and Minnesota Wild's goalkeeper Backstrom didn't have a chance as his own squad let him down.  Sound familiar?  Minnesota found two pride goals in the last period, enough to keep their heads up high.  We win.

Biron Battles and deserves the start tonight
But here's the difference - Marty Biron was in goal for the Rangers, with Henrik on the sidelines.  So the operative question is as the Rangers head home tonight against the Calgary Flames - who starts in goal tonight?   I'd actually like to see Marty Biron open the game tonight.  It would fit the Torts philosophy and system.  If you win and play hard, you will be rewarded.   What do you think?

Looking ahead, here are the stats going into tonight's matchup:

The Rangers will face-off against the Calgary Flames at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), in their third consecutive game vs. a Northwest Division opponent. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and seventh in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 11-9-1 (23 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Minnesota Wild, 5-2, on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center, to improve to 5-0-0 in the second game of back-to-back sets. The Flames enter the contest with a 8-10-1 (17 pts) record to rank 14th in the Western Conference, and have lost four of their last five games (0-3-1).

There are games we should win and there are games that we just need to work hard and see what happens. Tonight we are expected to win, which are usually the ones we don't. So perhaps Saturday night's game did a little good to the confidence factor - as we meet our old friend Olli Jokinen (who I believe is still suspended for a cross-checking incident here), the Sutter family will be in attendence (former coach of the NJ Devils... "help Sutters, we need you back" - Lou L.) ....and I believe we'll all be treated to Brandon Prust welcoming his ex-teammates to the Garden. It should be a battle. 

The ride continues tonight Rangers fans.....onward!


Garden fans, look out for that funny looking dude wearing the Flames jersey

A great moment in hockey history, note Olli forgot to defend again.

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