Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Daily Recap: Gilroy Earning Spot Leading Win; Zuccarello Here To Stay?; Torts Calls Effort Sloppy

Today was all about two guys who just a week ago were not even thought of as likely candidates to have been in the lineup the last two games; Matt Gilroy and Mats Zuccarello-Aasen.  In the game tonight Gilroy, the oft scratched Gilroy, who was in for the struggling Michael Del Zotto would score two goals and try to stake a claim to remaining in the lineup on a more permanent basis.  I said this afternoon that he had done everything to earn that chance but it was up to the coaching staff to believe he could be used beyond the role of injury replacement and punishment for other’s bad play.  Tonight’s performance certainly helped Gilroy’s chances of doing all of that as it was his offense and overall play that helped lead the charge in the Rangers burying the Islanders 7-2 and had his coach praising him following the game.

The full game recap details the all the goals and thoughts on how certain players performed during the game as always and tonight as you would expect in a blowout win there were a lot of performances to have positive thoughts on including Marian Gaborik of whom I have been critical of lately.

You would think following a 7-2 home win the coach would be happy with his club but that was clearly not the case in Tortorella’s press conference following the game.  The video of the conference shows his distaste for some of the plays made by the club and the chances that they surrendered to the Islanders.  Also during the conference he talks about how Matt Gilroy is one of his top six defenders right now, which will lead me to tomorrow’s discussion as to who is or should be the new odd man out.  Other good stuff in the presser, but that dissatisfaction with the overall team play was somewhat the overall takeaway for me.

In terms of Mats Zuccarello he was back for his second NHL game and once again showed that he belonged at this level, but the question I pondered this morning was concerning how long would he make his stay last this time around.  “Zuccarello’s back; Can the Norwegian Hobbit Work His Magic To Make it Permanent” discusses the obstacles in terms of the roster that stand in Zuke’s way, but also the things that he brings to the table that make him necessary to have a role on the club now.  If Zuccarello can find a chemistry with Marian Gaborik that would go a long way to cementing his spot on the club and for my money the key stretch is these next couple of weeks before Vinny Prospal returns as if he plays to his talents and abilities Zuke will once again force the Rangers to readjust the schedule they had for him.  The one thing that is very evident in everything Zuccarello does is the level of self-confidence he has and the Rangers in addition to his skill could certainly use some of his swagger to wear off on guys like Dubinsky, Anisimov for whom self-confidence is their biggest impediment.

Speaking of Gaborik before the game the Rangers announced the new lines for the game and it appeared as if it was going to be another move just to get Gaborik going, which creating lines solely for that purpose I have been against.  The lines were said to have Gaborik returning to the team’s top line while Mats Zuccarello was scheduled to play on the team’s fourth line with Sean Avery and Erik Christensen.  Luckily for all involved John Tortorella’s penchant for changing lines would occur even before the game as Zuccarello would end up with Gaborik on the same line.  Obviously my reaction to those lines would have been far different than to the announced ones, but check out what I thought on what was supposed to be.

In non-Rangers news there was another brilliant Tim Thomas stop to save a game for the Bruins in which he thought he was superman. 

Also on the more serious side Jordin Tootoo of the Nashville Predators checked himself into the NHL in-patient rehab program and put some perspective on the human side of hockey and how playing the game and certain roles can take their toll on the players off the ice.  Tootoo is in a completely different battle right now but he deserves a stick salute for facing it head on and for asking for help when he needed it.