Thursday, December 2, 2010

Daily Recap: Gaborik, Avery Fry Fishsticks; Most Irreplaceable Ranger; Boogaard/Gillies slug fest

This morning on the site I asked which of the current Rangers is the most irreplaceable if he were to go down with injury and the main candidates that I wrote about in no meaningful order were Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi.  Each of the six have different qualities that make them very valuable to the Rangers each time the team takes the ice.  Due to the different roles they are asked to play on the club statistics do not necessarily reveal the level of importance each may have, thus complicating such a question.  I went through each of the candidates strengths and weaknesses in this regard here.

This morning the Rangers announced that for tonight’s game against the Islanders it would be Martin Biron who was in the net and not Henrik Lundqvist, thoughts on that move and the other lineup issues were here.  The discussion with the Rangers when it comes to lineups and all the changes made during games normally is about the forwards and changing of linemates but tonight the change during the game was the pulling of Martin Biron in the second period and Henrik Lundqvist getting into the game afterall.

The stars of the game this evening were Marian Gaborik and Sean Avery as Gaborik recorded his 12th career hat-trick adding a helper along the way and Sean Avery had three assists which only begins to describe the impact he had on the game as the Rangers pulled out a nail biter they tried to give away 6-5 against the lowly Islanders.  I wonder if I asked this morning’s question about the most irreplaceable Ranger tomorrow after this game would the results change with the show Gabby put on.  The full game recap is here, but while two points is two points this kind of effort defensively will not hold up against anyone of quality.

During the game there was also a nice long fight between a pair of tough guys as Derek Boogaard and Trevor Gillies went at it in the first period.  The video of the fight is here.

Marian "Magician" Gaborik Pulls Trick Out of His Hat in Rangers Crazy 6-5 Win

For the last couple of years the Rangers have had a revolving door with their lines, but maybe just maybe they found a line that works for Marian Gaborik as his two assistants Sean Avery and Erik Christensen would combine with Gaborik for 4 goals, 5 assists and a +8 on the evening.  The line would be the one to open the scoring and then would also break two ties during the game as they would not be denied showing excellent chemistry with each other and feel for where the other would be on the ice.  As impressive as the hat-trick and four point night were, Sean Avery was the player of the game for the Rangers in this one.  Avery did everything from using his speed, his toughness, his hockey smarts and his passing skills to dominate for the Rangers attack and make life at times easy for Gaborik.

If the Rangers are going to be a playoff team they need to take games like these against the Islanders who are an inferior team and end them early on.  For nearly the entire first period they looked poised to do just that as they dominated creating chances by working the forecheck and cycle game, skating well and for a change having a huge possession advantage.  All of those things led to a 2-0 lead late in the first at 19:11 Knopka would get his first on a scramble play in front of the net.  The late goals always hurt but this one changed the feel of a period the Rangers had dominated getting beautiful goals from Christensen and Callahan to one that they should have had more out of.  The Christensen goal would come off a cycle play that would end with Erik lifting the perfect shot over the shoulder of DiPietro.  On the Callahan goal, a tremendous play by Stepan to win the puck along the boards and the draw a penalty, but instead of settling for the power play Brandon Dubinsky would scoop up the puck and make a tremendous pass across the crease to a cutting Ryan Callahan for the finish.

For a good portion of the second period the Rangers played awful hockey as they were getting beaten to a lot of the pucks and got away from the way they play effectively.  The biggest problem for the team was they got an early power play which all too often functions as a momentum killer and not a scoring chance creator.  The Islanders would keep up the solid play until the Rangers had a defensive breakdown in which Dubinsky lost contact with his man, Matt Moulson and Moulson would go down the slot getting a pass from Tavares and beating Biron to tie it at 2.  Three minutes later the Islanders would score again as Rob Schremp would score from the point to give the Isles a 3-2 lead and end the night for Martin Biron as he was pulled for Henrik Lundqivst.

Lundqvist would have to come in basically from the crowd and after Jesse Joensu beat Michael Del Zotto for a chance that did not result in a shot the Rangers would dominate the rest of the period.  The Rangers after a good shift from the Fedotenko – Boyle – Prust line they would eventually get a shot from the point by Marc Staal that would be deflected by Brandon Prust before ping ponging off Rick DiPietro and Andy MacDonald into the net.  Just over three minutes later the Rangers again on the power play would actually make it work this time as Martinek failed to clear leaving Marian Gaborik with the puck and he would attempt to pass to Ryan Callahan on the doorstep, but Knopka would actually put it in his own net for a Gaborik goal at 16:24.  Shots after the goalie change were 7-1 Rangers. 

Going back to being a good team, now that the Rangers had let the Islanders hang in for two periods of action they needed to take control early on in the third.  The Rangers would do just that when after a brilliant shift by Sean Avery where he got the puck out of the defensive zone, got back in the play, stole the puck and then threw a beautiful backhand pass to Marian Gaborik in front for Gaborik’s second of the night and a 5-3 Rangers lead at 3:31. 

The Rangers would dominate play for most of the period until at 12:30 Michael Grabner would fight off a Dan Girardi check and deflect a Radek Martinek point shot to make it 5-4.  If that was not enough the Rangers would let the Islanders all the way back as Blake Comeau would score just 1:41after Grabner on a goal mouth scramble to make it 5-5.  Then because he would not be denied tonight Marian the magician would make a great play lifting the stick of James Wisnewski in front and then beating Rick DiPietro just 25 seconds after the Islanders tied it to put the Rangers back up 6-5, which is how it would end.  In the end the Rangers will certainly take the two points, but they will have to play  a lot better than this if they want to be a team that does anything this year.  The biggest positive as a team other than getting Gaborik and company going was the battle the team showed each time they coughed up the game in coming back to finally win it.
  • Dubinsky-Stepan-Callahan showed good things tonight as well
  • Brandon Prust is extremely underrated for all the things he does on the ice
  • Frolov for being "close" as Tortorella claimed was virtually invisible again
  • Someone needs to teach the Rangers defense especially Staal and Girardi how to clear the dang crease.

Video: Derek Boogaard vs Trevor Gillies

Rangers Lineup vs Islanders: Biron To Start; Boogaard In; Gilroy, White Scratched

As I speculated about in the pregame last night Martin Biron is going to get a game against the Islanders and it will be tonight.  Henrik Lundqvist will be back in there tomorrow and likely both games against the Senators.  For those upset about Henrik not going tonight, Biron needed the work to keep sharp, has an phenomenal 20-4 1.93GAA .934SV% career against the Isles and will be motivated to beat the team he was with a year ago.

Other lineup news has Derek Boogaard returning after missing the last few with a sore shoulder and Todd White taking his customary seat in the press box once again.  On defense Matt Gilroy is once again the odd man out.

Full pregame with lines, and thoughts on the game can be seen here.

Video: Tortorella's 'Unacceptable' Profanity Laced Tirade After Isles Loss

In case anyone forgot why the Rangers have to show up tonight just remember this tirade from Tortorella in a similar scenario to right tonight being the first of a back-to-back with the Islanders in December.  Do not know how many remember how pitiful the effort was in that game, especially the first period, but it was painful to witness.  The changes Torts referenced in this conference ended up the benching of Ales Kotalik and Wade Redden with the team responding in a 5-2 trouncing.  Let us hope there is no reason for this kind of press conference tonight.

Who Is The Most Irreplaceable New York Ranger Right Now?

Over the past few days I have looked at the team, the record and what is coming next in determining if the team is legit this season.  Today I want to take a little step back and go with a more open ended discussion seeing as how the Rangers have missed various players this year due to injury and illness on the topic of what player can the Rangers least afford to be without.  When I say be without I am mainly referring to injury situations, but there is also the idea that if they left the organization in there as well.  If I had to guess coming into the season the obvious front runners for this type of question would have been Henrik Lundqvist with Marian Gaborik probably coming in second.  Right now I would say there are probably six candidates in what personally I would deem to be a relatively close debate as the current team is constructed.