I read this book a while back, it was the first part of a long series, something like 13 books (never got around to reading the final 12) and it was called “Lemony Snicket’s A series of unfortunate events”. It’s a snarky little book that’s about, as you might have guessed, a series of unfortunate events. Like the book, that’s how tonight’s game played out. How does the ref not blow the whistle when Henriks glove goes over the puck? How does a puck hit off a Caps elbow and go into the net when it was well on it’s way to going wide? How does the Ref justify getting in the way of Brandon Dubinsky when the Rangers would have had a 2 on 0 break? How do Gabby and Henrik have such a weird moment to lose this game? To blow a game like this, you either have to play like absolute dog crap, or have a lot of things go way the hell wrong. Tonight, it was a lot of things going way the hell wrong.
Before we get into the refs, we should talk about something glaringly obvious to anyone who watched the game. The Rangers did NOT quit playing after the 2nd period. That’s what the average fanboy will say. No, the Rangers played hard, but the unquestionably ran out of gas. Particularly the Rangers top 4 defenseman who all played over 30 minutes, Dan Girardi nearly 40. The Caps were able to spread their time out since their top 6 are all fairly good in their own zone, whereas the Rangers have a disaster of a 3rd pairing in McCabe and Gilroy who can only be used when the Caps have their 4th line on the ice. Any other matchup and those 2 gets abused. This also has to do with the Rangers style of play. The Rangers play a balls to the wall, foot on the gas for 60, 80, 90 minutes type of hockey, and that has worn them out, especially as games go long. People may want to blame Torts, but there is no blame to be put here, the Rangers just are not a talented bunch and HAVE to play this way to win. It’s how the Penguins are playing, except they had half a season of riding Crosby and Malkin to ease the load a bit and have a much easier match-up than we do. I agree with Run Duguay here, Torts needs to ease off the guys the next few days, let them rest, they are spent.
The real issue here is the Rangers just flat out lack talent, and when the offseason comes, I’m going to put forth my radical plan to fix the Rangers in 1 dramatic offseason.
Getting back to the game, there were a confluence of ref-eff-ups that screwed us all night. First and foremost, Henrik Lundqvist covers a loose puck with his glove, the ref doesn’t blow his whistle, they whack away, and eventually it goes into the back of the net. How does he justify not blowing the whistle? I have no idea, because I sure lose sight of the puck the second Henrik covered it, and that was in slow motion through multiple angles. There is no way on earth the ref saw a loose puck there. NO WAY ON EARTH. Secondly you have the ref play defense on the Rangers when Gabby and Dubinsky would have had a 2 on 0. The Referee unconscionably skates into Dubinskys path, a good 5 feet from the boards, to break up the play. What on Earth was he thinking? When you saw the replay, you literally saw the Ref skate right into the path of the puck, therefore stopping the play, instead of taking a different route, like to the middle of the ice, or, more sensibly, straight back. It probably cost the Rangers a high quality scoring chance. 2 on 0 with Gabby and Dubi? I take those odds any day of the week. Finally there was the mystery slash by Sean Avery that led to the game tying goal. Where was the slash. Someone show me, because I sure as hell didn’t see it. Awful reffing this series has really hurt the Rangers. It’s not the penalties on us that bothers me as much as the lack of whistles on scrums where we have control of the puck, and an unforgivable pick-off play by the ref that negated a clean 2 on 0 break.
This team has a lot to be proud of, and frankly we deserve to be up 3-1 in this series right now. The Hockey Gods are cruel and evil.