Monday, November 22, 2010

Recap: Biron Extinguishes Flames in 2-1 Rangers Win

Lou Capozzola/Getty Images
The story of the entire day for the New York Rangers was Martin Biron, whether it be this morning when the fans were surprised he was getting a second straight start or tonight when he was the star in helping the Rangers win their second straight victory.  Biron would make 31 saves in all in the 2-1 win including stoning Jarome Iginla on at least three chances form the doorstep.  Biron improves his record to 5-2 including four straight victories while the Rangers improve to 12-9-1 as they head out on a 3 game road trip.  This was the kind of gritty performance the Rangers would put up when Gaborik was out of the lineup and nice to see them get back to it and grind one out tonight with the fore-check, and blocking shots.

The Rangers would come out very strong in this one and dominate the first ten minutes of action particularly a shift by the line of Ruslan Fedotenko – Brian Boyle – Brandon Prust that would keep the puck pinned in the Calgary zone working the cycle and creating chances for upwards of a minute causing the crowd to stand and applaud.  If not for a great first part of the game from Kiprusoff the Rangers would have a few goals in that first 10 minutes.

The physical play that would be a staple of the game would kick off when Michael Sauer would slam Meyer into the boards and get called for boarding.  Multiple Flames took exception to the hit most notably Tom Kostopoulos who jumped Sauer and got a penalty of his own.  Once both players were out of the box Kostopoulos and Sauer would fight in what ended up more of a wrestling match than a fight.  Sauer’s night in the box was not over as he would fight Meyer, the man who he originally boarded, as well.

The scoring would start in the second period when Brian Boyle the goal scoring machine this season would get his ninth without even shooting at the net as he was attempting a pass to Ruslan Fedotenko on a 2-on-1 when Brendan Mikkelson a Calgary defender knocked it in his own net at 2:04.  The response was quick and clinical as the Flames ran a beautiful 3-on-1 which concluded with Jarome Iginla notching his sixth goal in the last four games.  The play was a complete and utter breakdown by the Rangers as Brandon Dubinsky got too cute with the puck in the offensive zone and instead of shooting turned it over attempting a pass, Marc Staal had pinched and Ryan Callahan decided to finish a check on the wall during the breakout effectively taking him out of the play.  It left Girardi all alone to face the 3-on-1 where Jay Bouwmeester would find Iginla who beat a defenseless Biron.

Later in the period the physical play would come back and now it would be mixed with stupidity.  Ryan Callahan had a beautiful and completely legal hit on Bouwmeester along the boards which Curtis Glencross took exception too.  This being the same Curtis Glencross who blind-sided Chris Drury last year in Calgary and he went after Callahan first with a shove then a cross-check to the back of the head which would get him a two minute minor.  Brandon Dubinsky took exception to it and came over to start with Glencross but the referees intervened and Dubinsky was lucky to not get called for a penalty on the play.  On the ensuing power-play the Rangers would score what ended up as the winning goal when Derek Stepan won a clean draw back to Dan Girardi who stepped into a slapshot that got through Mikka Kiprusoff.  This is a puck Kipper should have stopped, but the Rangers will certainly take it.  The Glencross mess has become the norm in hockey today where perfectly clean hits get over-reactions from the other guys on the team and while not to the dirty level this was from Glencross Sean Avery had a similar play when Ruslan Fedotenko got laid out earlier this year.  When the hit is clean and legal no matter how big there is no need for this retaliation junk.

The Rangers entered the third period with their perfect 9-0-0 record when leading after two on the line and Martin Biron would star to make it a perfect ten.  The Flames would register 15 shots in the final frame, the best chances of which came from Jarome Iginla on the doorstep but Biron held his posts well and would not be beaten. 

The story for tomorrow will be he huge hit that Marc Staal laid on Matt Stajan that knocked Stajan to the ice, and out of the game as he hobbled off almost surely with a concussion.  Flames fans will see it as a dirty hit worthy of a suspension, but as I said when I posted the video I see a player who came from the front, stayed on the ice and aimed for the shoulder of his opponent and just crushed him.  Hockey is a violent game and with the speed these guys can skate now the impacts will look worse than ever but there was nothing dirty, malicious or in my opinion illegal about that hit.  Here is the video if you didn't see the post.
  • Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan were much better tonight, especially as a unit
  • Gaborik was mostly invisible
  • Stepan is getting more and more comfortable and showing no signs of giving up a top 2 C spot
  • Boyle has been amazing this year
  • Avery is getting benched when we get healthy
  • Staal and Girardi were phenomenal tonight.  If Girardi is not an All-Star with the year he has had I want an investigation
  • Eminger and MDZ had some huge blocked shots
  • Michael Sauer is proving he belongs both in his play and his no-nonsense attitude.