Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why Not Every Game?

So the Rangers come out west, the expectations that I have on them are low so of course the Rangers decide to come out and defeat the Anaheim Ducks. Sometimes it is very nice to be wrong.

After watching a full dose of the Ducks, Sharks and Kings over the last couple of weeks, it was hard to think the Rangers were going to win more than just one game out of this trio. The Ducks were bigger, better forecheckers and more responsible defensively than the Rangers.

So what happened and while the Ducks and yours truly is left scratching our heads at the very same time these questions beg to be asked:

Why can't the Rangers play like this every night? Why aren't we getting to see the Rangers give the sort of effort that they showed against the Duck defensively against everyone?

Why do the Rangers play down to the level of the opposition when the teams are bad and then up like they did against this Duck team? Which Ranger team is going to show up against the Kings on Wednesday evening?

Was it a perfect game by the Rangers? Nope but they did the key things starting with not allowing the Duck's top line of Getzlaf/Perry/Kunitiz from dominating and dictating the pace which Duck coach Randy Carlyle was wanting. Other than the one Duck goal, the Duck top line really had a below average evening.

Credit the Ranger defense for that and heck give Rozsival credit for taking Getzlaf off the ice midway in the 3rd period. It might have been the best defensive play Rozsival has made all season even if it was a penalty.

The Rangers did a number on the Ducks in the second period defensively limiting them to just 5 shots which in my eyes was the key to the win. The Ranger's defensive play kept Teemu Selanne from scoring and for most of the game also from getting clear shots at Henrik Lundqvist.

Selanne had very few opportunities at creating space for himself and negating his speed also helped to limit Selanne's effectiviness. The Ducks after the first period were really unable to sustain any kind of offensive attack or pressure in the Ranger's defensive zone.

Another area where the Rangers deserve some credit was staying out of the penalty box as the Rangers only had 3 power plays against them against the Ducks, killing all 3 attempts with very little problem.

Other than the one defensive breakdown which did lead the Duck's only goal, there was little to really complain about the defensive side of the game. That blame on that breakdown belongs to Dan Girardi as one has to wonder why he decided to play the body so high up at the blueline when he just knows he is partnering with Kalinin.

Kalinin played the "Tom Poti wave as he skates by" defense which allowed Ryan Carter to skate in to take the original shot. That shot handcuffed Henrik on his glove which opened the rebound for Brett Hedican's attempt (which Henrik poked away).

Finally Chris Kunitz got the goal while Korpikoski (on the ice out of the play) and Sjostrom (just standing there) did next to nothing. If you look at the screen shot of the goal, what you will not see is either Ranger defenseman as they took themselves out of the play.

It is way past time for Kalinin to come out of the lineup and if the Rangers are serious about Mats Sundin then I can see a huge chunk of cap space opening up if the Rangers were to waive Kalinin over to Russia. Do not send him to Hartford as it would be a waste of space nor fair to the kids working on their game.

On offense, against the Ducks there can be very little complaint because seeing the Ducks in a low scoring game is more par for the course. If you want to nitpick then complain that it was 2 individual plays by first Chris Drury and then Nigel Dawes that were the difference makers.

Against the Ducks that is exactly what it does take to beat them as sustained offense with them is normally hard to come by. Don't make a big thing about the Ducks going with their back up goalie either as Jonas Hillier actually has some very good numbers.

The one regret I do have about the Duck game was not seeing Colton Orr and George Parros drop the gloves. Right now Parros is one of my favorite enforcers in the NHL and perhaps the best unknown fighter in the NHL as this was the fight from the game I watched last week:

Parros would be an instant fan favorite with Ranger fans should he ever become a Ranger.

So now the real test comes Wednesday evening; the Rangers could waste all the good will built out of the win over the Ducks if they do not defeat the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are in rebuild mode but will make this game competitive so the Rangers can not look past them towards the San Jose Sharks.

The Kings have some offense starting with the newly formed line of Patrick O’Sullivan, Anze Kopitar, and Teddy Purcell. They acccounted for 1 goal and 2 assists against the Sharks on Monday evening.

The King's leading goal scorer Alex Frolov (13) actually plays on the King's 3rd line as the Kings just revamped all of their lines trying to shake things up. The weak spot on the Kings is their defense is very inexperienced at the NHL level (keep an eye on Drew Doughty last years 2nd overall pick).

Expect the Kings to go with former Ranger prospect Jason LaBarbera since the Kings normal starter Erik Ersberg hurt his groin against the Sharks on Monday. The King enforcer is a Russian by name of Raitis Ivanans (6'4 263) who took on George Laraque last season in a fight when Laraque was wearing a mike (listen to the replay of the fight)

Which Ranger team will decide to show up is the question; if the wrong one does then all Tuesday's win will be wasted as no way should the Rangers not defeat the Kings.

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