The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

NY Rangers 3-6 Montreal: Canadiens strike lucky

Robert Lang had a hat trick, and was not the first star of the game. Yes, really.

In a game where the Rangers outshot our heroes 39-25, and despite lucking out a bit after some poor rebound control, Jaroslav Halak was there when it mattered. I didn’t see the Florida game, but he was awful in New Jersey. So, I think it took some guts on Carbo’s part to go back to him in a tough road game with a hostile crowd against a team that was coming off a 4-o win against Pittsburgh. Especially with a veteran like Marc Denis in reserve, I don’t know if it’s the move I would have made…but it came up aces tonight.

The underlying theme to the game was that both defenses were porous for long stretches at a time, and while the Rangers took more shots, the number of clear scoring chances was probably about even. The difference was that Halak was excellent, while Henrik Lundqvist was well below his usual standard. Also, the Canadiens did a far better job of taking advantage of silly mistakes than their opponents did.

Speaking of which, I don’t know what Henrik was thinking on the first goal. Behind the net, he gave the puck away to Max Pacioretty (great game from Max Pac tonight, by the way), who zipped a perfect pass to Kovy to tap into the vacated net. That gave us a measure of control over the game that we never fully relinquished. The Rangers looked a bit dazed after the goal, to the point where  Petr Prucha and Colton Orr were on the ice at the same time on one shift. What on earth was that supposed to accomplish?

The Rangers did cash in on one mistake, though. Halak left a big rebound, and three guys in white stood around while Redden is in the slot to tip it in. Lang was closest to him, and whatever he was doing, he wasn’t defending.

But, a strange goal gave us the lead back straightaway. Hammer took a huge shot from almost center ice, and Lundqvist kicked it into the high slot. Henrik is going to take the blame for the goal, but why no one picked up Latendresse, I’ll have no idea. Not only that, but Lats didn’t get all of it, and it was a knuckleball that beat Henrik over the shoulder. This one was just luck, but that’s what Gui gives us…he’s been working his ass off and his game is better for it.

The Rangers got their act together though, and got some timely defensive plays from Redden and Roszival. On the other end, they started to pressure our net, but our blueliners (if nothing else) did a good job of collapsing on the net to protect Halak when he gave up rebounds.

Midway through the second, a quick breakout through the neutral zone had us reeling, and the Rangers’ speed paid off. Our defense was backing off – Hammer conceded the blueline which let Gomez pass to Callahan, who has one hell of a shot. It helped that Komisarek backed way off of him, giving him time and space to fire over Halak, who had no chance.

The Rangers could have wrested control right after, as Kostopolous had a brain-dead giveaway in the neutral zone. Drury shot wide, and that was pretty much their chance. The rest of the period saw one PP for us that had 30 good seconds at the end, and Kosto made up for his error by hustling back to cover for Brisebois, who got caught pinching AGAIN.

Sadly, I have to admit that Ranger fans have a legit beef if they say that the refs kind of turned this one. Voros was called for a ridiculous hooking call, and Markov blasted one over Henrik’s glove right off the face-off. BS penalty, but what a shot!

Ranger fans have a much less legit beef if they say that the next two penalties were as unfair. Callahan’s stick hit one of our guys in the face – inadvertent, but still a penalty. Gomez then blatantly held the stick, giving us a 5-on-3 PP. The goal was bad luck (AK46’s shot went off the boards, and came right out to Lang for an easy tap-in), but it’s hard to sympathize when bad penalties lead up to it.

They got one back when four of our guys got caught on one side of the ice, and Lang decided to stand around and do nothing while his man, Roszival, pinched in and was gifted the run of the slot to fire home past the stranded Halak. That’s the frustration with him…he created 3 goals today, but was directly responsible for 2. When he doesn’t have a hat trick, that becomes a shitty ratio in a hurry.

The Rangers were all over us after that, but Halak fended them off. You may note, by the way, that my coverage of the 3rd period is sparse. I Tivo the games and watch on a delay, but at 2-2 on my timeline, my brother Dan called from the bar to bitch about how we were up 4-2. Thanks, sport. I FFed a lot of the 3rd because of that.

Anyway, on a 4-on-4, a wonderful individual effort from Lang saw him split the defense with a lovely shoulder fake, then he beat Lundqvist over his glove with an unstoppable shot. Ballgame. He added a SH empty-netter to seal his hat trick, and finally allow me to breathe easy.

This was one of those games where the scoreline did not reflect the balance of play at all, but I’ll take it. We better not play like this against Toronto, who will be up for the game and looking to destroy us.

TSBS Three Stars of the Game:

1. Jaroslav Halak
2. Alex Kovalev
3. Robert Lang

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January 7, 2009 - Posted by | Montreal Canadiens

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