Friday, April 24, 2009

Random Hockey Ramblings On This Beautiful Friday Afternoon. . .

Beautiful day. Friday afternoon. Rangers playoff game in a few hours. . .

I just can't sit still!!

Greatly looking forward to the game tonight. I only hope - hope! - it's a really good one!

Not much to say right now, it's in the Rangers hands what they do tonight. But wouldn't we all like them to just Close. It. Out!

Around the League:

Sorry I've been a little lax with playoff updates. Again, I've mentioned before, it's kind of hard when there are like three games overlapping, like last night, and then a late, late one. It's hard to say I've watched and gotten a feel for many series. The two series, besides NY/Caps, I've seen the most of are Philly/Pittsburgh and Chicago/Calgary.

The Flyers had a big win in Pittsburgh last night staving off elimination. Besides the obvious the win helped cement two things: the Penguins can be beaten and the Flyers can win in Mellon arena. I am not sure if the Flyers will prove my prediction - win in 7 - but if they win tomorrow and the deciding game goes to Mellon arena, at least they know they can and have won there. That means a lot mentally.

I saw hardly anything of the Detroit/Columbus series, which disappoints me. Not as much as if Columbus was able to skate with them, but it still does. I had picked Columbus in 6, which sounds both bold and a little moronic at present, even I admit. But I think I can break it down in the simplest way.

- I thought Chris Osgood had a sub-par season. I was not alone in this line of thinking. He stepped up big time in the playoffs. Credit to him. I always liked him and he has been there before for Detroit. They apparently never doubted him. I guess some of us should have thought the same.
- I thought Columbus, despite the late season struggles, had a chance to pick off Detroit mostly because of Steve Mason and his hot hand. Now, that didn't pan out and Mason looked human. I still think he'll - deservingly - win the Calder. And I feel confident he'll pick up in a good place next year and be important for Columbus.
- I thought Columbus was mature and ready enough to knock out the defending Stanley Cup Champions. This was my biggest flaw. Columbus was young, raw, and thankful just to have been there. They were down before they could get into the series mentally. No matter my, or their, intentions, it is hard to draw from experience when your goalie, your captain, and much of your team, has never played a playoff game. Shortsided thought on my part. Or I was thinking with my heart, not my head, which I've been known to do.

Regardless how sad it was that they were knocked out in four - and how much I wanted them to win the game last night! - it's important they took that first important step. I hope they are back there next year and make strides towards improving what they could not this year. When all is said and done though, it probably came down to experience. A David versus Golliath scenario, and unfortunately Columbus never was able to strike first, or at all. That might have made a difference. As we got a taste of in game four, Columbus could score against Detroit. It'll be interesting to see how it goes next season.

Sentimental moment watching the players salute their fans and the fans cheer for their team. It took nine years for playoff hockey in Columbus. What's one more - hopefully only one more - year for their first win? Celeb Blogs...

I usually check these out during playoff time, but I didn't this time around until today and I found this on Eddie Cahill's Rangers blog:

"Also, saying goodbye to Peter Prucha was tough for me. Again, I get why he had to go, and I think it was a smart move, but it was a move that a little bit hurt the feelings. Mr. Prucha, I'm guessing you won't read this either, but thank you and good luck. It was a pleasure rooting for you."

As if I didn't already love Eddie Cahill enough, I now find I love him MORE! :)


Luke said...

I have to admit, I missed the final period of game 4. Having not seen Avery's performance, I can only go on what's been written up. I'm trying to keep an open mind about the decision to bench him for game 5. But I'm struggling to do it.

Let's start by looking at what's gone on during the course of game 5 with Avery on the bench.
Gomer gives up a totally senseless penalty in the first 90seconds? So he’s decided to step up and play the fool, who's going to step up and provide the spirit? If Gomer gives away another penalty will he sit in game 6?

Rozi and Drury combine to give up a short-handed goal. So the powerplay is as good as it's been all year. Who is going to be accountable for that?

The Rangers give up yet another too many men on the ice penalty. Shall we talk about that as an undisciplined penalty? Will Torts take responsibility for that? Who's running the line changes on the bench?

The other notable gaff in the first period was Antriprov (who I have to admit I’m a fan of) putting a very premature end to a NYR powerplay.

My flatmate and her partner arrived home, rolling drunk, at the start of the second. I had the volume down for most of the period, while I was having a chat with Charlotte and Sarah. Credit where credit is due, OV’s goal in the last minute was excellent.

King Henrik, deserted by his NYR subjects was pulled at the start of the third. Probably a good idea. Hank’s good, but he’s not a machine, he needs at least some support from his teammates! Valley goes in goal and straight away gets repeatedly sticked and then run over. Am I the only one who sees this? We’re down 4-0, our king has been chased from the ice, where is our spirit?

Now I’ve put in a fair bit of effort to watch this game, I’m several thousand miles and 5 time zones away. But I’ve turned up, I don’t think the same can be said for most of The Rangers. I think this entitles me to say the following:

Sean Avery might have taken another stupid penalty had he been playing this game. But let’s get the facts right here. It took 90 seconds for a so called ‘team leader’ to give up a stupid penalty. We took a multitude of undisciplined penalties throughout the course of the game. Goal tenders aside, we played the game with no determination, no spirit, no fight. Our spirit was sitting and watching from the press box.

Since he returned to the league it’s been open season on Sean Avery. Tripping, slashing, cross-checking and several dangerous boarding shots. Time and time again he’s been hit from behind and no penalty has been called. Time and time again he’s chosen not to retaliate and give away a stupid penalty. Yes, he finally blew his cool, at a fairly unfortunate point in the game. Avery, like King Henrik, is not a machine. At some point he’s going to make a mistake.

The undisciplined and lethargic play of the Rangers tonight clearly demonstrates that the only “message” sent by leaving Avery on the bench is we are vulnerable, weak and ready to be taken advantage of.

I’m going to send my own “message” by turning off my laptop and choosing to get some sleep instead.

Kerri said...

Luke, I COMPLETELY agree with you.

When the scored became 3-0, I just sat there, staring at the television thinking, where the hell is Sean Avery? We needed him last night. Even if he doesn't change the score (which he might of, considering he hasn't been a great forechecker, but much more consistent than those useless seven million dollar men, and he also is good defensively) at least he could have brought some energy to a squad that had none, minus Dubi, Cally and Korpi. The rest of them FLOATED and it was beyond aggravating. This is the playoffs, guys; step it up or just call up some young guys and get them experience. Don't embarrass yourselves.

And it's completely unfair to Henrik, who let in ONE bad goal this series, to know that he can't do that because this team can't score a goal. That puts the-bad-kind-of-pressure, that kind of pressure he's been feeling all season, on him, and we saw how negatively he reacted to it, and I don't blame him.

It is embarrassing to get shut out during a playoff game. It's worse that this is shut out number two for the Capitals.

Luke, you make an OUTSTANDING point about Avery. Avery gets abused out there and there is not call. Avery plays on an edge, yes, so maybe in some ways refs are letting him deal with what he puts out, but there is a point that it is just plan biased officiating against him. Even some of the penalties he took in Game 3 and Game 4 (not including those awful penalties at the end of Game 4)were questionable calls. So yeah, he has a target on his back. Yes, that's a reason for him to play it cool. But how much does he have to take? When he shoved Varlamov in Game 3, that was just after taking a slash to the leg. It's not like he's just flat out crazy like people are suggesting. He gets abused out there.

Gomez? Please. (I don't talk about the Antropov penalty because it was B.S.) But Gomez has been doing this all season, as has Naslund, who is the biggest waste of a roster space I have ever seen (he has been much better in the playoffs, but again invisible last night). Redden and Rozsival have been letting in short handed goals all season. Zherdev gave us the appearance of being clutch when he scored with 8 seconds left in that game early in the year, but has disappeared in all stressful situations since. Our big deadline deals have disappeared... Morris didn't react properly to Ovechkin's amazing moves on his goal (IMO) and Antropov has been pretty invisible offensively.

And everyone wonders why I'm hung up on Prucha? Good God, do you see the effort out there?! Tonight it was non-existant.

Again, I was falling into a trap of liking this team... mostly because I actually attended Game 4 and they put on a show and did their thing. Winning "against all odds" and against a team that's really much better than them... well, that started to confuse me. But that is not reality, with this season.

If this was regular season, I would bench the entire first two lines. But Renney never taught them accountability, and Torterella has now seen how accountability can bite him in the ass.

Avery should play tomorrow. Period. I'm not saying he shouldn't have been punished; perhaps get very limited ice time, or get ice time as he earns it. Since Torts gives his fourth line only about 3 minutes a night anyway, if Avery steps one toe out of line, he can just shorten the bench. But to scratch him is sending a message that should have been sent all season, and never was. Now what do you say to Gomez, who started the game putting the Rangers down a man and changing the entire feel of the game?

And Gomez makes double Avery's salary. Yay.

Oh, and Kels; it is quite beautiful! Here's to the first beautiful weekend of the summer, lol.

kels said...

For the record, Luke. I read your post when I woke up Saturday morning and said, damn, I could not have said it any better myself. You were spot on and I loved it. Hated that it all happened, mind you, but loved the way you expressed it. I realized I could not add anything to what you said, so I let it be.

And here I am 2 days later, feeling just as lousy.

But, back to Game 5 for a moment. I went to one of the Rangers "viewing parties" while although novel, does not provide the best landscape to "watch" a game. I couldn't really see or hear commentary. I missed the entire Tortorella debacle. All I knew was the disbelief felt by all in attendance when they kept showing the graphic that Avery was scratched.

I am right with you on everything you said, and that Kerri followed with. This team has been the same lifeless group of undisciplined spiritless players for the entire season. Everytime I try to believe they are not, I am proven wrong. There are people that thought that because their "spirit" was missing, they'd someone step up in his place. Heellloooo. I only wish that were possible. They were lifeless and when they weren't lifeless they were plentiful in their undiscipline. It was painful to watch.

I spoke last week about how Boudreau's decision to bench Theodore and play Varlamov might have changed the series.

What about Tortorella's decision to bench Sean Avery? We will never, ever know if the game would have been different if Sean Avery were in the lineup Friday night. Is he a miracle, is he their best player, is he the end-all, be-all? - no. But he was always - ALWAYS - the spark. And on a team that lacks any superstars, and misses daily every superstar they might have had in Avery's previous tenure with the team (minus Hank), Avery is the closest thing they will ever have to a game changer. This team plays BETTER with him in the lineup, for WHATEVER reason. Tortorella ignored that big picture, in favor of the details of the moment and it backfired big time.

Luke: "Goal tenders aside, we played the game with no determination, no spirit, no fight. Our spirit was sitting and watching from the press box."


Luke" "The undisciplined and lethargic play of the Rangers tonight clearly demonstrates that the only “message” sent by leaving Avery on the bench is we are vulnerable, weak and ready to be taken advantage of.

I’m going to send my own “message” by turning off my laptop and choosing to get some sleep instead."

I only wish I could have done the same.