Rangers @ Sharks, March 12, 2011
I made an ominous typo when I was making notes during the game. Instead of Rangers @ Sharks, I typed Rangers @ Flyers. It took me until the next morning to notice that.
Niemi started again, and more surprising, so did Boyle. Instead of sitting Braun, McLellan went with seven defensemen and sat Desjardins.
I don’t think anyone could accuse the Sharks of starting slow. Boyle found his feet pretty quickly, despite his statement yesterday that he had “mental hurdles” to overcome before he would be 100%. So much for staying mute on the subject of injuries.
I love that Boyle told us he didn’t have a concussion. I love that he let us know he had butterflies about this game. Probably any hockey player that’s ever been hurt knows how that works and it’s only a secret to the fans. I wonder if Thornton would have made a smoother transition after his suspension if he’d shared a little more. Boyle looked giddy, in a state of high… something, but, as he put it, he didn’t screw up.
The first penalty was taken by the Rangers 12 minutes in or so. Up until then, play galloped along like an endurance race. It took a few seconds for Clowe to get a shot off. The Rangers’ Mark Stahl kindly deflected it in.
With three minutes to go, I regretted the absence of Sean Avery. Earlier I was happy to see a tweet saying that Eric Christensen would be in and Sean Avery a scratch. It wasn’t that Avery posed a threat to the Sharks, but he is like the neighbor’s family member you invite to the party because it’s the polite thing to do, but you always hope he won’t show, he is such a rude guest.
Christensen scored. A perfectly executed play, nothing rude about it. Hence the regret.
In the last few seconds of the period, a hit in front of the bench resulted in a two on one chance for the Rangers. Nemo poked it away and stopped that nonsense.
He could only stop it so many times when the Sharks got trapped one stick short in their own zone. Less than two minutes in, the Rangers wore the teal skaters down and pulled ahead 2-1. As the period dragged on, I began to doubt that the Sharks are really a second period push team as the Thrashers announcers had said. What do they know? They cover the Thrashers.
The first whistle, aside from that early goal, came eight minutes into the period. As SJeasy, the message board’s ref guru, predicted before the game, these refs let most everything go.
Nothing came of that. A few minutes later, the Rangers got another breakaway. Nemo slowed it down but it got through him. Only a mad dash from Braun stopped the Rangers from taking a two goal lead. He arrived in the crease just in time to sweep the puck away from the line.
Nothing seemed to be going right, Wellwood stranded alone in the o-zone, his team on a line change. Someone hit him hard, knocked him down, taking his helmet off. He made it to the bench, but the next line flooded in to the zone and caught the Rangers off guard. Several shots later, Eager tied the game with another shot that bounced off a Ranger.
The teams began the period 4 on 4 due to matching penalt…
…I feel like I’ve typed this before and it didn’t end well…
Anyway, the 4 on 4 ended. The teams played ping-pong in the neutral zone for a while. Some near misses and odd man rushes kept everyone moving. The one good thing about odd man rushes is that Nemo can see the shots to stop them. He did.
One of their own odd man rushes earned the Sharks a power play which never got organized…
That pretty much described the rest of the period. And OT. All that was so depressing I couldn’t keep taking notes. When it went to a shoot out I knew it would end badly. Nemo is pretty good in a shootout but you do not want to go up against a goalie like Lundqvist because there are not a lot of goalies like Lundqvist.
Not only did he lure all but one Sharks shooter into shooting for his beartrap five hole, but he would go over to the bench and whisper to his own team’s shooters. What he said probably doesn’t matter at all. It was probably intended to unsettle Nemo. I can’t say whether or not it did, of course. Nemo’s pretty good but not like Lundqvist.
Boyle, for all his professions of nerves, was the only Shark to score in the shootout. Two Rangers scored and that was that. To be fair to Nemo, the shootout went unusually deep for the Sharks. Marleau, Heatley, Clowe, Couture and Pavelski all had to fail for Nemo to get beaten twice.
Final score: 3-2 Rangers. It could have been worse. It could have been 7-0, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.
Since not much nice happened in hockey Saturday (Worcester and the Phantoms lost too) I found this tweet interesting. Usually I will not watch a fight but it was curious: