So much more actually went on in this game than I might relay over the next ten minutes you're reading this; but I'll do my best to cover this latest tango between the last team we beat in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The game started out reasonably ok with end to end action and a crossbar shot by Ales Kotalik that had Ranger fans believing the club would find the back of the net soon. But, as they failed to take their momentum onto the scoreboard, the Canucks eventually woke up and took over the second half of the first period. This eventually led to a goal being scored by Mikael Samuelsson which was assisted by Ryan Kesler to put the Canucks up one going into the second period.
The second period started out the same way as the last two games for the Rangers, in the fact that they actually decided to play to their potential. The Blueshirts outshot the Canucks 14 to 8 in the period that saw them level the game at one going into the third.
The Rangers made their statement about six and a half minutes in when Brandon Dubinsky saucered a pass to a somehow open Christopher Higgins right in front of the net who snapped the pass through Andrew Raycrofts five-hold to tie the game (Late night/Labatt Blue's must have gotten to me as this actually occured in the third period). The Rangers could have had the lead going into the third when Shane O'Brien got four minutes for high-sticking Ryan Callahan. The Power-Play was above-average, and in the end set the game up for an interesting third period.
At this point of the re-cap, I want to state that I am going to just repeat what I saw, and leave my opinion to a rant which will come at a later date. The Canucks played great team defense when it came to Marion Gaborik tonight. They crowded him and cut off his shooting lanes, which is very frustrating as a forward. Kevin Bieska and Gaborik were battling all night, and Bieska got Gaborik pretty good one time. Gaborik went back at Bieska as best he could, but in the end received more of the same from the Canuck blueliner. This led to a line-change where Ryan Kesler found himself surrounded by Gaborik and three other Rangers, who had no intentions of asking him for an autograph. Tempers like you don't see that much nowadays were evident, to the point where Sean Avery ripped the stick out of a Canucks hand while both players were on their respective benches. But back to the boring hockey. The Rangers end up with a Power-Play out of all of this, where Christopher Higgins tied the game at one on a one timer from right in front of the net. The Rangers then get caught puck-watching Ryan Kesler skate circles around their zone while Rick Rypien snuck in back-door to put the Canucks up 2-1. Voros takes a penalty, Rozival puts the cherry on top, and the Vancouver Canucks grab the game by the neck with the spirit of the 18,630 at GM place to finish off the Rangers with a Power-Play goal by Mikael Samuelsson. The night was topped off by an Empty-Netter by Henrik Sedin (who took a hard shot to the foot), which finally ended an interesting game for both teams to say the least.
Quick thoughts as more will come:
- The Rangers are standing around in the wrong ends of the rink. You're taught as a kid to play zone when you're tired, but to never stand still when you're in the Offensive zone. If you're in the D zone and you're tired, get it out. If you're in the O zone and you're tired, get off the ice. Simple as that.
- I will not go into the Gaborik-Bieska situation in full detail at all, but who I am disappointed in is Dane Byers. Not for his role in the first situation, but for his fight at the end of the game. I understand he might have been trying to make a statement, but the Blueshirts tonight stood up for its star player but then couldn't get the job done where it matters; which is on the scoreboard. Just let it go at that point, in my opinion.
- Admit it, you thought the Rangers were gonna win when Higgins netted the tying goal. I thought he was going to score two his next shift. Congrats to Mr. Higgins as I really like him as a player and I know he has the talent to riddle the scorehsheet.
- Henrik Lundqvist was Vezina-caliber, again.
- Finally, do not write this team off for the next two games. I really thought the Rangers were going to win the game after the Gaborik-Bieska situation. This team needs to be tested here early on if they have any hope in getting to an Eastern Conference final unlike any other Ranger team since the lockout. The next two games, to me, could be bigger than any Devil, Penguin, Islander, or Flyer game all year if they manage four points. We will see, though.
More on the game when the sun comes up.