Thursday, January 8, 2009

Surprising and Yet Not SO Surprising. . .

Despite the outcome and the big handful of negatives from last night, I actually was still quite entertained for the majority of it.

I am not sure what that is saying about me that something like last night was entertaining, but. . .

The Good/Suprising:

Drury/Dawes/Prucha line impresses for the second game in a row. I just did not (repeat DID NOT) think this would work. I'm not going to credit Renney for it. Instead I'm going to say that Prucha's coming back into the lineup with spunk and creativity - both sorely lacking on this team - possibly made it easier on whoever he played with. And he's been highly impressive. If he's not scoring, he's making assists now. Got one last night, and came close to two others, making nice passes to Drury and Dawes in the slot. Very good stuff from that line.

The Bad/Surprising:

After a great game on Monday, Hank looked very, very bad last night. No way around that. He should, at times, be tethered to the net for his own protection. See Montreal's first goal as an example. I just do not understand how a goalie who is stellar in shootouts, looks embarassingly human on almost any odd man rush. Don't get it. Just don't get it. Rebounds aplenty, Montreal capitalized, not surprisingly. Whether it was IceCap last night or Hockey This Morning, this morning, someone said that Hank was not having a good year. And numerically that's probably spot on. But I guess in my mind, he's been playing well overall considering being over worked and over tested. But maybe that has faded since the earliest part of the season. I don't know. I'm usually the first to admit when Hank doesn't have it. Is the rest of the team's follys making me blind to our own goalie's hardships?

Marc Staal, who has been in my opinion the single best player all season, looked bad last night. Not just once or twice, but for much of the night overall. And that is going to happen. Off night's happen. It's just he's played so well, it was hard to not notice how he was struggling.

The Rest of It All:

Jaroslav Halak had some masterful saves, and played very well for Montreal. Robert Lang shocked me, honestly, with his performance. Roman Hamrlikand young guy Max Patioretty played well too.

The Habs were 27th on the PP heading into last night's game. And yet they still managed to score two on the Rangers when the Rangers were stupid and vulnerable. It's amazing. I kept telling people, no, the Habs are not a powerplay machine THIS YEAR, it's just when they play NEW YORK that they wake up. And credit them for it. Definitely. The penalties killed the Rangers. End of story.

I do not understand completely the boo-ing of Alex Kovalev. I mean yes he was up/down/here/gone, and while his last tenure was anything but perfect, he got shipped out in the firesale like everyone else. No?

The Not Surprising:

Aaron Voros did not look good. His linemates Dubinsky and Zherdev didn't really look too great either, but I only saw one of them laboring to get back to the bench. More than once. Embarassing. It really is. I like him and I liked him a hell of a lot back in the days of the PS3 line, but come on. He cannot be in the lineup when he can't finish a shift or skate back to the bench without laboring, when you have Lauri Korpikoski, and even Dan Fritsche sitting out. Inexcusable!!!

My favorite part of the game:

Prucha standing up for himself - again - to Maxime Lapierre, who is just after him for some reason. Love the fiesty-ness. I really do. And Prucha becoming - wait for it - a playmaker, and not just a goal scorer. It's really refreshing stuff.

Larry Brooks quote of the day on Pete: "As he has been since brought out of witness protection, Petr Prucha was the Rangers' most creative and best offensive player, not that he gave up anything on the other side of the puck."

Not only has he done nothing remotely defensively liable, if you will, he's been one of the best players since he's coming back to the lineup (not that he did anything wrong before mind you), but he has a four game point scoring streak (2G, 2A). And he's a playmaker now, if you are paying attention Coach Renney!

The Rangers have a big test coming up on Friday. Should be interesting to see which team shows up in Buffalo.

Around the League:

Because I was without access to internet yesterday :( I'm a day behind. But, if you missed it, super annoyance Jarkko Ruutu was suspended for two games for biting Andrew Peters earlier this week. I am not sure what to think about this. Apparently, it happens. It used to happen more frequently. But I just can't wrap my head around it. As for Ruutu trying to deny it? Please. What does this really mean besides yet another example of how Ruutu really does physically and not just verbally dance over the line, - - he will be out against the Rangers on Saturday. Last time the Rangers played in Ottawa he was a big reason Ottawa won. Maybe this is the difference maker, if the team comes to play that is.

Mats Sundin made his debut for Vancouver last night to no real fanfare, but a lot of booing from Edmonton. He didn't know why. Did he look unnatural, in blue, white and green? Considering he spent so long in various colors of blue and white, this is not a stretch. Now if he had actually signed with Philly or the Blackhawks, that'd look odd. As is, he looked fine. In uniform at least.

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