Martin Biron voice: And now to da hockey.
The Games … last night’s game may have been the best I’ve ever watched. The Rangers had chances throughout the series (and the game last night), but the elite scorers didn’t deliver. On the other hand, the Kings spread the scoring around … Nash remained a no-show as far as goal scoring (that’s 2 years in a row) … St. Louis played well, but missed on several key opportunities … Zuccarello always plays hard and he did so again through every series … Kreider, who I thought propelled the Rangers through the earlier series with his speed and size, missed at least 4 breakaways during the series and two big ones in overtime (it happens) … Boyle was terrific throughout and seemed to pick-up some of the shot blocking they miss without Callahan … it looked as though Stralman played his best defense of the year, but there were a lot of turnovers off the starting duo of Girardi and McDonaugh, but Girardi was playing hurt and McMonster was on the ice longer than anybody ... and let’s give some credit to the Kings forechecking (it was ferocious throughout the series). The announcers were giving Richards a lot of praise last night, but I didn’t see the same thing. I saw a lot of missed shots. I thought the Ranger defense played hard, but their forwards didn’t seem to put forth the same effort as the Kings forwards. Lundqvist was more brilliant than I’ve ever seen him (remember I’m only a 3 year fan of the sport), but Quick somehow managed to make the timely saves. The Flyers and Blue Jackets have to be kicking themselves in the head for dealing away Carter … and Justin Williams (Conn Smythe winner) was magnificent throughout … Doughty played mad minutes and delivered … and Captain Brown (2 goals in the series; 1 the OT winner in game 2) was diving to make passes and maintain puck possession (somebody say Callahan?) … so did all of the Kings. I suspect Gaborik is haunting Ranger management about now … good. They (management) deserve it.
I’m sure I’m missing key players above, but I didn't sleep much last night (leftover adrenaline, plus my tongue is still on fire from smoking my pipe like a chimney throughout the game).
Seriously, dude, find something less painful to do when you're nervous (or when you're writing).
It seemed to me what the Rangers were missing most was net presence (somebody say Callahan?) … it seemed as though nobody was willing to take the beating it requires in front of the net with any consistency (somebody say Callahan?) … that said, they probably exceeded expectations.
Earlier Games: The first two games were also incredible and could’ve been won by either team. The fact the Rangers blew 2 goal leads three times in two games is difficult to defend, but they still had several chances to win each game in regulation and OT. The non-call in game 2 was terrible, but it wasn’t the first time there was a bad call/non-call in this year’s (or any years’) playoffs.
Remember this call in the first round?
The bottom line was the Kings found a way, the Rangers didn’t. What came to mind after the second game double OT winner put in by Captain Dustin Brown was: Man, it’s great to have a CAPTAIN.
Game 3 was a different animal. Jonathan Quick saved the day and made it appear as though a Kings win was never in doubt. For me, the goal scored with less than a full second on the clock before the end of the first period was critical. It would require the Rangers to come out at the start of the second period full speed and banging. They didn’t. They took unfortunate penalties instead. And then there were follow-up goals in the second period that were daggers the Rangers never answered.
All week long there was talk about how when the Kings went up 2 goals, they were unbeatable. I didn’t believe that based on how well the Rangers had played them in games 1 and 2, but in game 3 it seemed as if the Rangers were accepting defeat. As Mike Keenan noted after the game, there was no passion on the ice. No pushing and shoving. No roughhousing that might spur the team on. Where was the extra effort? I saw Dustin Brown dive for a puck to make a pass and I know I’ve seen that before when Callahan was still a Ranger, but not during game 3, not from the Rangers. It looked like the often talked about dual locker room leadership of Richards and St. Louis had faded.
Or maybe it never was there.
Game 4 was Ranger puck luck, end of story. The hockey Gods gave one back … the Kings completely outplayed the Rangers from Dustin (there’s that Captain thing again) Brown’s breakaway goal to the end of the game. Not sure how those two pucks didn’t cross the line, but Lundqvist was brilliant all game long without the luck. He deserved that win.
If there’s an excuse for the Rangers, I suspect it’s their overall youth and inexperience going so deep in the playoffs. On the other hand, if Montreal doesn’t upset Boston, maybe the Rangers don’t escape the second round. On the “other” other hand, maybe if Carey Price isn’t knocked out of the series in the first game of the series, the Rangers aren’t in the finals.
It just seems as though whatever spirit and moxie they had developed after the stinker they put up in game 4 versus the Penguins, whether it was a response from embarrassment or bonding behind the tragic passing of St. Louis’ mother, it was missing in the finals (somebody say Callahan?). That or the Kings are just a much better team. While I think they (the Kings) are far more experienced and tenacious, I don't believe the Rangers couldn't beat them in a 4 out of 7.
The speed game may still be there, but there’s an edge missing that is undeniable … I suspect the missing edge is spelled CALLAHAN.
The intangibles a player like Callahan brings to the table didn’t compute for Vigneault and/or Sather. The wanted elite goal scorers who might speed the plow. They didn’t. Somehow it doesn’t bother the organization, and/or too many of its blue bleeding fans, to pay such “elite” goal scorers such big money with such meager results. By playoff end, some 25 games (plus OTs), the Rangers top goal scorer through all of the series combined is Martin St. Louis with 8 goals. Two guys from Chicago had the same amount of goals or more in 5 less games, and two Kings had more (Carter and another Ranger trade-off, Marian Gaborik). That's not putting blame on St. Louis, but one does have to measure what they gained vs. what they gave up. St. Louis scored twice in the 5 games of the final. Brad Richards didn't score. Neither did Rick Nash. Maybe the speed game needs something more than flash.
I’m not saying the Rangers would’ve won the cup if Ryan Callahan was still with the team. I am saying they still would’ve been there. We know they didn’t win it without him. I’m also saying that the edge and extra efforts that Callahan brings to the ice are exactly what the Rangers needed all series long. The Rangers would’ve done no worse getting past either the faltering Penguins or the crippled Canadians (playing with a 3rd string goalie) with Callahan. The difference, of course, is they’d have him for 6 or 7 more years. Now they’re lacking a selfless grinder who can score and is willing to sacrifice his body to stop someone else from scoring. What they gained was an aging goal scorer (no longer near his prime) who’s missed a lot more open nets than he’s found. I'm not sure the media will be able to milk his emotional story (and it was tragic) through to next season, but I'm sure they'll try.
And it doesn't get unnoticed that a team loaded with grinders won the cup.
Here’s the kind of leadership (and guts) that the Rangers are missing, except in this clip Callahan does it without his stick. When the goal is scored, he's off the ice.
The Rangers lost a lead by example style of play and it has been missed, especially against a team with another Callahan type player, Dustin Brown. It’s fitting that the Kings win another cup and that their captain gets to hoist the Stanley Cup one more time in his career. The Rangers opted to trade their captain and have been without one since March 5 (when I started my Callahan diet and dropped 62 pounds and counting, yo!). He's very missed by the team and fans who appreciate a work ethic an entire city could be proud of.
Listen to Joe (above) on this one: “You follow your captain. When something needs to get done, you need your captain to step up.”
Make no mistake, having a CAPTAIN means something.
Now for the TK awards:
Official Best TV coverage shot of the series so far ... Justin Williams blowing a booger out his nose on the bench ... thank God my wife was shopping on line in the dining room.
Official best MSG shot … fans still wearing Captain Callahan jersies.
Official best hockey voice award goes to … former Ranger backup goalie, Martin Biron …
The Knicks? More talk and spending by the New York Knicks, the gift that keeps on giving to comedians everywhere … first they hired a guy with ZERO GM experience for $12 million a year … a legendary coach who maybe had a little help from his friends on the court (Jordan, Pippin, Bryant and Shaq), so when his hubris winds up bitch-slapped by the guy he expected to hire (another apostle of the triangle offense, Jeff Kerr--and another guy with ZERO coaching experience), the Zen Master hires another friend/guy with ZERO coaching experience … for how much? How about $5 million a year for 5 years? I’m sure he’s a nice guy, this Dereck fella, but really, the Knicks' roster blows. If the Knicks have proved one thing (Pat Dolan), it’s that they know how to blow some coin.
Nobody flushes the cash down the toilet like the New York Knicks.
Last Love … Wow, what a movie. I watched this one while the wife was at work and it scared me the way these types of movies always scare me. There are some great shots of Paris throughout. Even the dancing scenes were fun. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Might not be for everybody, but if you’re sentimental, this one’ll do the trick. Me, I'm a sentimental SOB. I cry at the Rangers Beginnings shows about their players and their families. Very highly recommended.
Mission Accomplished … well, now that it’s been a few years since regime change in Iraq and we FINALLY got the hell out, it looks as though we left that terra firma fertile for the kind of revolution that winds up making things much worse than before (i.e., under Saddam). You’d think we learned, but we haven’t. We did this in Vietnam and Cambodia (and Cambodia was a neutral state) … we were responsible for Pol Pot and Khmer revolution that ended in Killing Fields, but those lessons obviously weren’t enough. Listen, I was hoodwinked right along with much of America (and it’s not like those with better foresight didn’t try and warn me). I fell for the bullshit and supported both wars. Now I know better than to ever believe anything I can’t see, touch, feel and witness for myself.
Read more about it here:
Congrats to the Kings ...
They are the Champions …