Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rangers vs Thrashers Recap: Rangers Come Up Inches Short While Playing Miles Away

The Rangers took the ice tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers looking to extend their 3 game winning streak.  Earlier in the evening it was reported that for the first time since October 19, 2009 Henrik Lundqvist would not make a home start for the Rangers and instead it would be Martin Biron.  For 20 minutes of the game they played like they wanted to actually win a fourth in a row, but for the other 40 they were playing somewhere other than the Garden.
Details of Game, Thoughts Inside.
The Rangers start fast after an Anisimov faceoff win in the neutral zone the puck was dumped in the zone, Callahan pressured the D and Anisimov cut off the pass up the boards knocking the puck behind the net, going to get it and throwing a backhand pass to the front of the net where Ryan Callahan finished it at 38 seconds.  Rangers kept up very good pressure and fore-check for the rest of the first half of the period.  Then Brian Little got the puck at center ice with Avery, Rozsival and Staal between him and the net.  He took it around Avery faked up the middle and then took Staal wide and drove around him scoring on the backhand past Biron at 11:28.  Staal for some inexplicable reason jumped inside and then reached with the poke-check before attempting to recover wide but never getting close.
After the goal the Rangers never really got the rhythm and fore-check going again for the rest of the period.  Late in the period Brandon Dubinsky takes a lazy penalty in the offensive zone after being deked by Alexander Burmistrov.  During the 5 on 4 Rozi hits a puck out of mid-air into the stands for the automatic delay of game call.  This was one of those examples of what is wrong with the rule as there is no way he was intentionally doing it and maybe there needs to be some more discretion on the part of officials on the call, especially when it amounts to a mid-air deflection.  Girardi, Staal and Callahan kill off the 5 on 3 with the help of Biron and a highly questionable pass attempt by Antropov helping kill some of it.  Dubinsky came out of the box and helped to end the period, while Biron made a couple saves on point bombs from Dustin Byfuglien.  The period ends 1-1 with 49 seconds left in the Rozsival penalty.  The Thrashers, once trailing, 7-1, on shots now lead 12-10.
The Rangers opened the period with a good kill of the rest of the penalty, during which Bryan Little took a Dustin Byfuglien shot to the back/arm and skated off hurt.  Eric Christensen came down the other end and nearly scored as his shot was redirected, but Chris Mason stuck with the puck and gloved it.  The Thrashers controlled the play not cashing in until Evander Kane took a Burmistrov feed making a beautiful move around Anisimov and banged a beautiful wrister in off the post for a 2-1 Thrashers lead at 10:17 of the 2nd.  Tortorella calls timeout and turns more purple than his Hockey fights Cancer tie.
With just over 8 minutes left in the period the Frolov-Christensen-Prust line creates a chance that is blown dead prematurely.  Avery outworks Ron Hainsey for 20 seconds and then a pinch by Girardi keeps the shift alive for Avery to finally get the wrap around goal making it 2-2 at 12:48 of the period.  On the ensuing shift Brandon Dubinsky draws a hooking call on Dustin Byfuglien after the Rangers really start to reestablish the fore-check.  It was the Rangers first power play of the night, which the Thrashers would kill off and actually create some chances just after it ended.
After the Rangers actually built some momentum Marc Staal fails to control the puck in the offensive zone, leading to Bergfors coming down on a 2 on 1 with Ladd against Rozsival.  Rozsival played the pass as he should leaving the goalie with the shooter, but Bergfors roofed a shot high glove past Biron for a 3-2 Thrasher lead at 16:07.  The period ends with the score still 3-2 and shots now 20-17 Atlanta.  In order to keep the streak alive the Rangers would have to get their 1st 3rd period comeback win of the year.
If the Rangers planned on making that comeback the start to the 3rd period certainly didn’t show it as they were clearly outworked by the Thrashers until Eric Boulton finally scored to make 4-2 Atlanta at 49 seconds.  To make matter worse the Rangers were without Artem Anisimov from the start of the period.  Michael Del Zotto takes a bad interference penalty and on the ensuing power play Dustin Byfuglien takes another cannon shot and finally beats Biron high glove to make it 5-2 Thrashers. 
Just as Rangers firmly plant themselves on the ledge of the cliff while bashing Martin Biron, the Rangers score to make it 5-3.  Ryan Callahan intercepted a pass in the offensive zone which eventually lead to a Dubinsky shot in which Todd White scored on the rebound at 7:56.  The Rangers finally get back to the fore-check which was so effective early in the game and it eventually leads to Sean Avery finding Brian Boyle to make it 5-4 Atlanta at 10:07.  Great shift by Avery and Fedetenko to lead to the goal. 
The Rangers came within inches of tying the game as a Matt Gilroy shot went off the glove of goalie Chris Mason and then hit the post.  Seeming to have all the momentum with the last four minutes to go the Rangers never could mount a serious threat to tie the game.  The Thrashers had the best chances with Girardi stopping an empty netter and then finally Andrew Ladd sealed the game with an empty net goal to make it 6-4 Atlanta at 19:36 of the final frame. With the loss the Rangers fall to 4-3-1 on the season.  They will look to rebound on Friday at home against Carolina.
  • Fedetenko and Avery were probably the best forwards throughout the game
  • The entire Defensive core struggled tonight
  • Staal was the worst of the D directly leading to two goals
  • Biron will have to be better if he is going to play as much as scheduled.
  • Way too bad on the transition as spacing was a problem tonight.
  • Rangers were way too soft in their own zone refusing to take the body
  • Team did not move their feet instead settling for stick checking
  • Rangers forechecked well at times tonight but had way too many gaps in doing it
  • All those things said they still came within inches of typing the game
Will let you know when I hear any updates on the injuries to Artem Anisimov and Michal Rozsival