Last night was the first meeting this season between the Rangers and Habs. Or maybe we should say Hartford and Habs. Don't misunderstand, this isn't a jab at our young players who have been developing nicely in their time with the big club, but the Canadian team might have seen more Rangers last night in civies hobbling around the backstage area, than in uniform.
Read the official Report of Last nights game http://www.nhl.com/ice/recap.htm?id=2010020635&navid=sb:recap">here.
Altogether, it wasn't a horrible game as both teams started off with some good energy and worked their advantages. The Canadians for their part showed why they had the second lowest goals against totals in the league. Their high pressure game was difficult one to get past. I was almost sure the style would be a nightmare for our blueshirts and our only consolation would be that former and brief Ranger Alex Auld in net for Montreal and whiles he's no slice of swiss cheese, he's rarely a wall. However, he was made to look like an all star as his team did their best to keep the pressure off him and succeeded. For two periods the teams were neck and neck and scratch and clawing for possession. This was hardly the shooting gallery the Bettman campaigners were looking for when shrinking goalies equipment and thinking up new tippy tap penalties to open up offense and pave the way for higher scoring games. This was essentially a defensive chess match between two teams riding their defense in the absence of some of their more offensive players. It was up to the players left to step up and unfortunately it happened for the habs before it happened for us (last night's Hab nots) as Poullion wristed a beauty of a shot, that dare I say is almost impossible to pick off when when you're trying you make yourself as big as possible in net, as a goaltender.
The other story for us last night was new Ranger Wotjek Wolski. Assumed to be an offensive force, with an underlying motivational defect that saw him moved twice already. He didn't seem to play that bad of a game. Especially considering he showed up shortly before game time and was only given one instruction in a pregame pow wow with Coach Torts: That being "Play...". It was probably best to keep it simple for a guy who probably thought twice about putting his pads on while on the plane if he was going to make the game on time. In between periods we found out a little more about Wolski. One, he's not a heavy accented Polish player who stuck playing a euro perimeter style... He grew up mostly in Canada from an early age and speaks and plays as such. The second thing we found out about him is that thoughts about free agency would have had him looking forward to the possibility of being a Ranger. I know a lot of players have said that before just as their eyes gleem over with Dollar signs and they begin to mull over colors for their new sportscar and Wolski's one game has yet to give him a chance to play like a Ranger, battle like a Ranger and above all BE a Ranger... but I have to say I like what I saw out there for a kid who was simply trying to fit in. He wasn't afraid to use his size and throw the body (God knows we need someone like that), take shots and defer to thoughts of Gabby before winding up and shooting. I think there may be a few more games for him to get into a comfort zone... but he can eventually get there... and show us what he has and whether hes worth hanging on to when his contract ends after next season. At the very least, we might have at least more than a snowballs chance in hell (with Zucc's and Wolski) in the shootout sans Christensen. Let's hope he can get comforted fast as next up is Vancouver and last night's 3rd period shows how much we are missing Callahan's energy.