Rangers Win, But…
LundqvistWell, it was two points earned and the Rangers are tied atop the Atlantic Division, but despite that victory I was left with a sour taste in my mouth. The team gave a good effort, especially considering this was the tail end of back-to-back games against tough division rivals. And yet, I’m not especially thrilled at the moment. Two things happened during the game that left me with that bad taste, and a third occurred that when held in contrast made the original ones all that much worse.
First, Sean Avery can yap and talk and gab away, and assuming he’s not talking about people’s health issues, I’m going to like the guy. He’s a better player than he gets credit for and he serves his role well. Is he a dick? Yes, absolutely. Would you like him if he played on your team? Yes, absolutely. That’s just the way it is.
What I can do without, however, is diving. And Avery took a dive last night on a check from behind (not really). The play went un-called, but the refs should have booked Avery for the infraction. You see, diving is a bane, a blight on sport. It’s ruined some sports (World Cup soccer, for one) and it will come after others if left un-checked. By design, it is nearly impossible for the referees to enforce, but they’re charged with doing so. Instead, it should be up to the coaches, players and even the fans to take up the task. We all need to do our best to shame the divers for their actions. It’s the only way to get it out of hockey. So the curse is on you Sean Avery. Don’t dive. Next time, take the hit like a man.
The second thing that bugged me about last night’s game was Ryan Hollweg, a.k.a. “The Boarder”. Hollweg needs to stop boarding people. It’s unnecessary and dangerous. I like a "wrecking ball" player as much as the next guy, but too many times I’ve seen #44 out there barreling into someone from behind. Last night’s play went un-called, but again this is something that two minute penalties won’t stop. This needs to be addressed by the coaches and his teammates, and it really needs to cease before someone else gets hurt.
By the way, I like Hollweg well enough. At least he serves some purpose outside of the hits and the fights. He can skate and shoot and even skate with the puck from time to time. Colton Orr, on the other hand, is completely worthless with his gloves on. Ugh.
And the last of the three things I want to talk about today, makes those first two all the worse. I need to give tons of credit to Bill and Joy Hartnell because they raised a good kid. Last night, Scott Hartnell had the chance to completely destroy and injure a Rangers defensemen and he chose not to. His check would have been well within the rules of the game, but Hartnell withheld the crunching blow and went for the steal instead. I know Hartnell has been called "dirty" in the past for some of the hits he’s thrown (on Cheechoo if I’m not mistaken), but what I saw last night convinced me he doesn’t deserve the label.
On the play, a Rangers defensemen was moving from right-to-left around his net. I rewound the play multiple times to figure which Flyer player it was, but I never bothered to check which defensemen he spared, so I’m not sure who that was. Whoever he was, he was being marked from behind by a different Flyer, who chased him around the net. The defensemen was watching the puck as the player behind him checked his stick. And there was Hartnell, coming in down the left wing, with a clear opportunity to put a Steve Downie on the guy. But he didn’t. He did the honorable and right thing, and instead of hospitalizing the player, he went for the strip of the puck.
As I mentioned, I watched the play a number of times and you can see Hartnell make the decision to hold up. Milliseconds before they collide, he drops his stick to the ice and goes for the steal rather than the thundering hit. It spared the Rangers an injury and it serves as a credit to Scott Hartnell.
I hate the Flyers. And there is nothing I like more than taking two points from them on their own ice. I would have enjoyed talking today about all the good things the Blueshirts did last night, but the solid effort was over-shadowed by a few ugly plays. That sucks, but those plays really need to be highlighted, especially by people who generally support the players making them.
With all of that said, it's nice to come away with four points after two tough divisional road games. It's very, very nice. No complaints on that front and all things considered I liked the game the Rangers played last night.
- It was a rare bad night for Lundqvist, but he made up for it in the shoot-out.
- It’s nice to see Rangers defensemen scoring goals. Against the Flyers, it was Tyutin’s turn to get in on the action, his first tally since opening night.
- Never, ever miss the net on an odd-man break. Ben Eager learned that lesson the hard way last night. Shanahan made him pay.
- Referees Stephane Auger and Steve Kozari were awful. Terrible, terrible, terrible.