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Rangers 2 – Sabres 3

Posted By Adam Gavriel On Mar 2 2011 @ 1:32 pm In New York Rangers | No Comments

And that’s what last’s nights game comes down to. A huge hit in the Rangers playoff aspirations with the Canes just one point behind with a game in hand, and the Sabres three points behind with three games in hand to make up those three points. It certainly doesn’t help that the Sabres and Hurricanes play each other tomorrow night, and you just KNOW that game is going to overtime.

But what we were treated to last night on Versus was your typical new New York Rangers loss. This team, it’s easy to predict how a game is going to turn out.

Last night they:

  • Come out slow and give up the first goal, an accomplish they’ve been fortuitous enough to achieve 7 out of their last 10 games. In those ten games the Rangers record is 4-6. Five of those losses were by one goal. You have to wonder in a game like last night’s, with the implication it had…how could they come out so slow? Where’s the leadership? Nowhere to be found right now.
  • Battled hard starting when they gave up a goal, at least it didn’t take a timeout this time, instead it took a goal from the other team to get a kick in the ass and get going.
  • Dominated the last 10 minutes of the game but couldn’t get a bounce, call from the referees, or someone who can finish the puck to get the tying goal.

That third bullet point leads me to my next point. The officiating. Well in this case, it’s Torts. Ask and you shall receive. After the Tampa game Tortorella was infuriated by the way the refs handled the end of the game essentially handing the game to Tampa. He had wished that the refs would just put their whistles away and have the players decide the game. Well turn your focus back to last night with the Rangers down a goal. Dubinsky gets tackled…not checked, not hooked down, but TACKLED by Sekera. No call. Zuccarello draws what I counted as three infractions against the Sabres in a span of 10 seconds, all of which were missed. When he got tripped they missed it, interfered with they missed it, and finally high sticked and no call. The officiating at the end of the game was a disgrace there, it really was. But if you’re the Rangers you have to look passed that and look in the mirror at the team who couldn’t solve Miller and get that tying goal.

This team has quickly gone from easy to fall in love with, to hard to appreciate. It’s hard to appreciate the effort you see in the last ten minutes of the game because you wonder where it was all game before that. It’s hard to appreciate the fact that they just can’t seem to buy a goal or a bounce right now.

Sometimes you have to take a step back and realize that this is a team playing without it’s top scorer, it’s top defenseman and a great role player.  Playing without their captain (even if he doesn’t bring anything he’s still there). Playing with what I believe is the 6th youngest team in the league.

The ups and downs are going to be there with a squad built the way the Rangers are built right now. As a fanbase we have to realize that it’s going to happen. We all wanted a youth movement and now we have it. We were spoiled in the beginning of the season where we saw what would happen when the team was clicking on all cylinders. Now, they’ve slowed down. They’re not getting the bounces they were getting earlier in the year and it’s just not coming together.

But…you make your own luck in this league.

Some thoughts on some players last night…

First and foremost Prospal. Now you can’t discredit the guy because the effort is truly there, he’s working hard every shift. But him working hard isn’t leading to any positive results, in fact him working too hard last night led to the game winning goal. I really don’t know what was going through Vinny’s head in that moment he decided to dive for the puck in order to try and spring himself for a breakaway or make an amazing play that will work 1/100 times to clear the defensive zone. Instead of diving for the puck, especially in a one goal game Vinny needs to sit back and wait for the opportunity. If instead of diving he just slides over to the Sabres dman on the point there and gets in the lane, the shot/pass never gets through and Jochen Hecht never deflects that puck into the net for the winner.

A lot of people are clamoring for Vinny to be cut, but here’s the thing…whose the better option down with the Whale right now over Prospal? There isn’t one. I’d say don’t cut him, but if Fedotenko and or Gaborik are ready to step back into the lineup Prospal can afford to sit a few games. I think for now he should be relegated to fourth line duties with limited PP time.

Thought McCabe was great on the power play last night, love that he’s not afraid to shoot. Him shooting and opposing teams realizing that he’s going to shoot 100% opens up space down low for the forwards to do work. It led directly to ECs power play goal last night. However McCabe has been weak at even strength but I think he’ll improve as he learns the coverages that the Rangers play with.

If when Staal comes back Eminger sits over Gilroy I’ll be very upset.

Avery needs more ice time (I feel like I say that a lot here)

Zuccarello is snake bitten but by god is he creating chances in the offensive zone. You know he’s gonna get back to burying those.

Thought Girardi and Sauer both played weak games last night. Sauer specifically on Boyes’ power play goal, the second for the Sabres. He lost Boyes there and let him get that puck passed Hank. On the first goal not sure what Girardi is doing swinging his stick at the puck looking like he’s trying to deflect it into his own net. Helluva deflection there Danny G.

Dubinsky – Anisimov – Callahan line was great last night, they need to get consistent with that type of game.

Boyle + Prust…fourth liners.

This morning I would’ve gotten behind Torts in some line changes, but it seems as if with players returning to the lineup he’s gonna have to make some tough choices.

Gaborik, Fedotenko, and Staal all skated with the team in practice today, none of them in non-contact jerseys. If anything I think Staal and Fedotenko may be able to return to the lineup tomorrow night against the Wild, but I think Gabby is still a few games away.

Lines at practice:

Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan

Wolski-Stepan-Zuccarello

Avery-Christensen-Prospal/Gaborik

Fedotenko-Newbury-Boyle

Prust was out for a maintenance day.

My guess is expect Prust and Fedotenko to be in the lineup tomorrow and Gabby to remain out. I’d say insert Prust in Boyle’s slot and slide Boyle to center over Newbury and that’s likely what you’re going to see tomorrow night for the team.

Also…Ryan McDonagh is an absolute stud. Has been the best Rangers defenseman since Staal went down.

I’ll be back tomorrow for a game preview.

Every game from here on out is a must win.

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