Thursday, December 8, 2011

Video: Anisimov Gun Celebration Enrages Tampa Bay

The New York Rangers broke a 1-1 second period tie Thursday night with a beautiful passing display that ended with Artem Anisimov having a wide open net while shorthanded.  That was the good part of the play.   Following his depositing of the gimme goal, Anisimov's fifth of the season, he proceeded to flip the stick around as if it were a gun, drop to a knee and simulate firing at the Lightning.

The reaction of Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier was immediate in charging at Anisimov for the gesture the young Russian forward just made against his team.  There is nothing wrong with what Lecavalier did, in fact, that is exactly what a team wants their leader to do in that situation.  The place where the Lightning face potential issues with the league is Steve Downie leaving the bench to get involved in the rough stuff following the Anisimov celebration.

Anisimov was wrong for being so demonstrative on such an easy goal and for the gesture that he used at any time, but it is difficult to believe there was malicious intent to the move.  Lecavalier was right to stick up for his team, but Downie leaving the bench has no place.

Rangers Fail To Get The Kill Against Tampa Bay, Lose Second Straight

Following a five game winning streak the New York Rangers suddenly find themselves the losers of two straight after blowing a late lead and falling 3-2 in a shootout against Tampa Bay.  Former Ranger Dominic Moore figured prominently scoring the game tying shorthanded goal with only 1:57 remaining and notching the shootout winner.  Moore was also the one that injured teammate Martin St. Louis during the team's morning practice when his shot hit St. Louis in the face and caused facial fractures.

The Rangers cannot lose a game like this if they want to truly be a championship level team.  A struggling Lightning team comes into their building without a top player and scores a shorthanded goal in the final two minutes to steal a victory.

The fact that the Rangers blew this is game is being lost in the frenzy over Artem Anisimov's goal celebration.  Following his shorthanded goal that gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead Anisimov turned his stick around and pointed it like a rifle towards the Tampa Bay players and "fired."  Tampa Bay responded as one would expect in going after Anisimov for what was clearly the wrong decision.  It was a mistake for Anisimov to do such a thing, but I doubt there was any malicious intent to the action.

Maybe Anisimov's move sparked the Lightning, but anyone that thinks it is what cost the Rangers the game is mistaken as they had numerous chances to build on a 2-1 lead and finish off Tampa Bay.
  • McDonagh struggled for the second straight game.  Not looking for excuses for his play, but at some point we do have to wonder about the toll the minutes are taking on him right now.
  • Del Zotto and Eminger both played solidly as the second pair without Sauer tonight.  The fact that Eminger can play 18 minutes when necessary shows that Tortorella can ease off Girardi getting 32 minutes, McDonagh 27 and Del Zotto 26 a little bit.

Artem Anisimov Joins Twitter

New York Rangers forward Artem Anisimov has joined twitter. Follow him @Anisimov42

Sauer's Absence Brings Tests, Opportunities For Rangers Defenders

The New York Rangers have been playing without one top-four defenseman all season as Marc Staal has been out of the lineup while trying to recover from a concussion.  The defense has held up better than most could have hoped, and while much of the credit has gone to Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh for elevating their games to another level, the contributions of Sauer on defense should not be overlooked.  It is because of those contributions that additional impact of Sauer’s absence, due to the concussion he sustained Monday night, that the Rangers depth on defense is going to be tested to a whole other level.

The initial reports on Sauer have him listed as day-to-day, but as we have seen with Staal’s own recovery there is no way to fully know how short or long of an absence Sauer could have.  The lessons learned from Staal coming back quickly last season only to have him struggle with post-concussion issues this year could also have the Rangers exercise extra caution in when to bring back the 24-year-old shutdown defender. 

Michael Del Zotto and Steve Eminger are the two most directly impacted by the absence of Sauer from the lineup.  Del Zotto loses his rock solid defense partner and is asked to be even more aware of mistakes he would make in his own end.  This is a test of where Del Zotto is in his development as he has had moments this season that show he is back on track while some of his play recently suggests he is still struggling mightily in his own end.  He will have to be cleaner without Sauer back there to help clean up for defensive lapses.

Eminger is elevated from the third pair where he has been averaging 13:10 of ice time per game to a role where he will likely see upwards of 20 minutes a night.  Eminger played very well when forced into a top-four role early last season as the Rangers were dealing with an injury to Michal Rozsival.  His familiarity with Del Zotto and history in the role certainly should help Eminger, even if he is no Sauer back there. 

Also impacted is Anton Stralman.  Stralman will get another chance in the Rangers’ lineup after only getting a single game against Florida on Nov. 23 to show what he can do.  Stralman likely will see limited minutes at even strength, but he could gain the opportunity on the power play to leave an impression with the coaching staff.

The Rangers defense has managed to survive the absence of Marc Staal all season because individuals have answered the bell to raise their levels.  In the absence of Sauer as well the level will have to go up once again because while the name is not as large as Staal, the impact to the Rangers defense corps is significant.