Suit’s post yesterday was spot on about the need for grit, not goons, on this Rangers team. Though the Rangers need grit, the goons have been out in full force this past weekend in the NHL. For as long as I can remember being a fan, the debate of banning fighting has been around, but that’s not what we’ve seen this past weekend; we’ve seen extremely dangerous and unsportsmanlike hits. Let’s take a look at three of them, and what potential suspensions may arise.
James Neal knees Brad Marchand – Saturday, 12/7, Pens vs Bruins
This case is pretty ugly. Marchand is tripped and laying on the ice with his head up when Neal skates towards the puck and, en route, ensures that his knee makes direct contact with Marchand’s head. I’m not sure what’s most offensive about this play – that he kneed Marchand while he was down in the head, or that he skated off like it was no big deal. The fact that Marchand is a pesky player who routinely gets under the opposing teams skin is never an excuse to make such an abusive play. Neal had his hearing yesterday and was given a 5 game suspension, in part due to the lack of injury from the play, and also in part due to his history (Neal has been fined once and suspended once in the past 3 seasons). This was only a small part of a rough game, which saw 40 minutes of penalty time, including a game misconduct on the next play in this series…
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The up and down season continues for the Rangers as they dropped another game to the Penguins, 3-0 at the Garden tonight. This was a frustrating loss, not only because the group’s low scoring ways continued, but because the Rangers did a lot of good things tonight and came up empty handed. Let’s get to the goals…
Pittsburgh 1, Rangers 0
The Pens struck early in this one, just 1:24 into the opening frame. The Rangers got caught running around in their own zone due to some quality puck movement from the Pens. Kris Letang was able to sneak a nice lateral pass down to the back door for Malkin, who ripped a one-timer, short side for the early tally. Read more »
Ranger fans left The Garden disappointed tonight, as the Blueshirts dropped their home opener to the Penguins, in particularly brutal fashion, 6-3. In a game we saw The King pulled in the second period, Rick Nash’s first Ranger goal, and continued sloppy, disjointed play, the good guys fell to 0-2-0 on the young season. Let’s break down the goals…
Penguins 1, Rangers 0: Only seconds after Aaron Asham kicked the game off with a solid tilt with Tanner Glass, Brad Richards took an undisciplined interference penalty just :37 into the game. On the ensuing Pittsburgh powerplay, after some pressure, Marc Staal failed to the clear the zone as his attempt was picked off by Kris Letang. The Pens continued to move the puck and eventually caught the Rangers running around. James Neal was left alone in the slot, and he rifled a shot low to the glove side and past Lundqvist. There may have been a small screen there, but I think Hank will want that one back.
Penguins 1, Rangers 1: Around the nine minute mark, the Rangers were starting to buzz offensively. An aggressive forecheck lead to a Simon Despres penalty for holding. On the faceoff, Brandon Sutter took a penalty for playing the puck with his glove. Apparently this is a new penalty this year. Just ask Sam, he’ll tell you all about it. This lead to a full two minute 5-on-3 for the Rangers. The Pens decided to play two forwards and one defenseman and collapse the front of the net. This allowed the PP unit the opportunity to move the puck freely around the perimeter and seek openings down low. After alternating the two tactics, Richards drifted down into the high slot and ripped a half slapper toward the net. Tomas Vokoun was unable to control the rebound and Captain Cally banged in the rebound as it was bouncing for the equalizer. Read more »