The game known as, Ã¢â‚¬Å“no, we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need another defenseman.Ã¢â‚¬ï¿¾
OFFENSE: F. Once again, nothing doing at even strength. The count is now up to 266:51 since the last 5-on-5 goal. Almost stupefying, isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t it, when you have a team with the likes of Crosby, Malkin, and Staal up front. Unlike the Devil game, they really didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t generate much offense at all against the Rags. Even Planet TherrienÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, um, mysterious line combinations didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do the trick. As one would have expected (unless oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s name was Therrien), the second line was worthless. They did zero all night. Well, what do you expect to happen when you take two worthless wingers and put them with a world class player? The first line had a couple chances here and there, but nothing to write home about. Occasional cycles where they tied the Rangers up in their own end seemed to lead to nothing but Ranger chances the other way. As has been the case the past 5 games, nothing worked the way itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s supposed to.
DEFENSE: D. Way too many good chances for the Rangers, and 2 even strength goals to boot. The defensemen were, as usual, awful. Scuderi scored yet another for the bad guys and was terrible when he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t putting it into his own net. How about that beautiful play where he fell down? Awesome. Melichar played pylon on NylanderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s goal, though it was one Fleury should have had. Now, it looks like Eaton may be down again. That might not be a big loss, considering how horrible he has been lately. But it all adds up to a huge question of why Shero didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t choose to bolster the defense at the deadline. He cannot honestly have watched these guys play night after night and thought they were capable of leading a team to the playoffs. If he did, he isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t as smart as we think he is.
POWER PLAY: B-. They did little with the man advantage all night, but potted a PP goal when they really werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even trying to, with a unit of Talbot, Roberts, and Armstrong. Great play by Colby to chip it deep and chase it, and a nice wrister by Gonchar. Other than that, the PP was pretty worthless, rarely putting any pressure on Lundqvist.
PENALTY KILL: A. Any time you end up plus on the PK, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re doing good. Two shorties got them back into the game when it looked like they were dead. The first was the classic Jordy shorty, where makes a move and beats a helpless goalie. And, credit, where itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s due, nice play by Malone to set it up. Then Armstrong took advantage of a huge gaffe by Lundqvist and put a Mario-esque shot off the goalieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pad and in, from behind the line. Both goals were tremendous individual efforts. They did allow the obligatory power play goal moments after ArmstrongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s goal as Whitney played tree in front and did nothing to tie up the great Blair Betts. Well, he did, if you watch the replay closely. If you can read lips, he did say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“um, excuse me, Mr. Betts, would you kindly mind moving away from my goalie?Ã¢â‚¬ï¿¾ Sadly, Betts ignored him.
GOALTENDING: A-. Fleury was brilliant most of the night, and pretty much stole the point. He, by far, faced tougher chances than Lundqvist. He had a few absolutely brilliant saves, most notably the one with the blocker on a rebound. He seems to be back to playing confidently again. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s two straight very good games since the week off. In this case, Therrien did know what he was doing. I did mark him down a bit for the Nylander goal, as that was one he should have had.
OVERALL: B. Tough to grade this one. They really didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play well most of the night. But they got two shorties when they had to have them, and then a PP goal later on. They are living and dying by special teams right now, and in this one, they lived. Trouble looms unless they can straighten out their even strength woes, though. They can consider themselves fortunate to have gained 4 of these last 8 points despite no 5-on-5 scoring at all. Need to fix that, and quick.
COLBY ARMSTRONG: A. He is playing better and more confidently than he has maybe all season. Two very good plays last night led to goals. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s maybe time to try him up with Malkin instead of Ouellet.
GARY ROBERTS: A. One word: presence. Boy, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s got it. And he laid a few crushing hits last night too. Welcome to Pittsburgh, Gary. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been missing this element.
GEORGES LARAQUE: A. Did you catch the play where Elisha CuthbertÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s squeeze was yapping at Orpik? Big Georges comes over and introduces himself. End of AveryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s conversation with Orpik. And Big Georges even had a couple chances in front. I like him. He can actually play.
JAROMIR JAGR: F. Last year, he was the man. This year, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s back to being a big whiney old baby. Gee, we havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen that before, have we? This guy needs psychological help, and quick.
GOALIE INTERFERENCE ON BETTS: A. Sorry, but that is the right call. Anyone watching the MSG feed got a load of Joe Micheletti saying it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a penalty. Yes, it is. It is either goalie interference or just plain interference. Call it what you will, you cannot hit the goalie or anyone else when they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the puck. It doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter if the goalie was in or out of the crease. It was absolutely the right call. See, I praise the striped buffoons when they deserve it.
SIDNEY CROSBY: A. WasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t it just a couple weeks ago I was begging for him to be benched in the shootout? The key is he has quit thinking and is just going with it.
MICHEL OUELLET AND RYAN MALONE: F. Quite possibly the worst combination of wingers on a top line in the NHL right now. Please, PLEASE, Planet Therrien, break them up, for the sake of all our sanity. I mean, seriously, did anyone even notice them in this game?