John Tortorella must’ve been feelin’ strong. And why not?
The Rangers came into the game with one loss this season, that in their first game, and winners of seven in a row. So hey, the San Jose Sharks are coming to town, and while they did win the Presidents’ Trophy last year, they’re not exactly playing top-quality hockey.
So hey, let’s give one of the best goalies in the world the night off because this exciting new-look defense that hasn’t even allowed two goals a game can totally keep that up against a team with Devin Setoguchi, Danny Boyle, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and some fellow called Dany Heatley, even with Steve Valiquette between the pipes.
Memo to these nouveau riche teams in the NHL: the Sharks are still for real. They absolutely dismantled the Rangers tonight, even if the latter did go up 2-0 early in the first period. But after Michael Del Zotto’s fourth goal of the year staked them to a two-goal lead, the Rangers started playing like they were playing the Maple Leafs for the third time this year instead of the team that’s averaged 107 points a year over the last five seasons.
As it happens, they weren’t pushovers like the Rangers’ previous four opponents (Ducks, Leafs, Kings, Leafs), which they outscored 18-5. These Sharks have been winning 50 games a year since Del Zotto was wearing braces and doing algebra homework. San Jose leveled before the first period was over, and by the time the Rangers scored again, there was 2:48 left in the game and the Sharks had scored six in a row.
The Valiquette gamble? A disaster. Five goals allowed on 18 shots, and Lunqvist’s night off instead became an abbreviated janitorial shift in which he allowed two goals on 12 shots in 20 minutes. Oops.
The message is pretty clear, I think. You have to bring your ‘A’ game to even skate with a team as talented the Sharks, let alone beat them. Don’t start your backups against the league’s perennial powers just because he shutout a team that can’t score and you’re off to a good start. Because you will get destroyed.
Los Angeles 4, Dallas 1
Maybe the key was benching Alex Frolov. Terry Murray has reportedly been perturbed by the Ruskie’s play the last few games so he made Frolov a healthy scratch, and the Kings dominated. They even scored a power play goal. I know, I didn’t believe it either.
Edmonton 2, Vancouver 1
Tough break for the Canucks. Down by a goal, goalie pulled and the puck’s in the offensive zone with about a second left. They get the shot off, and it goes in… about .2 seconds after the final buzzer. The good news, though, is that they got to watch the glory of Zach Stortini cuddling his way through another “fight.”