FIRST! The usual apology for gaps in posting: some crazy changes are going on at work right now. Everything is great, but it's been a bit busy for me to post as regularly as I used to. I'm hoping that I'll be able to continue this blog once this transition period is over (even though I've lost one of my two regular readers to law school), but I may have to move on to only posting in the evenings or something. We'll see.
WITH THAT OUT OF THE WAY! Yesterday afternoon might have been the most fun I've had watching a hockey game in a long time. Yes, as my insecure Pens fan friend reminds me, it was only the Oilers. And yet: 8-2? After coming close in but ultimately dropping 3 of 4 (to admittedly good hockey teams) and then taking until overtime to beat the lowly Sabres in overtime (despite an obvious regulation game-winner being inexcusably waved off), we needed a game like Saturday afternoon, where everything went right. Gaborik used his second game back to administer a clinic that ended in a hat trick, and even Frolov found himself making a couple of good plays (and, unrelatedly, netting a pair for himself). Up until recently, he was #1 on my list of Blueshirt liabilities, with absolutely no offensive production to make up for his defensive vacancy.
Boogaard is starting to earn his keep (notwithstanding that game-tying shot from the point against the Caps last week), by banging bodies around in addition to fighting. He's not the reason the Rangers are finally being seen as a tough team, but he helps. Speaking of being a tough team, remember that time old-time hockey came back to the Garden yesterday afternoon? How about 84 minutes plus 4 game misconducts handed out at 11:18 of the third. Man, that was fun. For those of you who missed it, here's a great way to spend 7 and a half minutes:
Oh, and let's put this whole "Avery sucker-punch" thing to bed, shall we? Perhaps Avery didn't follow "The Code," because he dropped his gloves and went right in for a punch. But Smid faced off against him, wanted to fight, and dropped his gloves, too. Avery just got his punch in faster. It may not be how the league's classiest pugilists conduct business, but it's a far cry from hitting a guy in the back of the head, or blind-siding someone who's body is limp, or sucker-punching someone in the nuts when a teammate already has him in a headlock, or any of the other actual cheap shots we see all the time.
This is classic "Avery Outrage," wherein Sean Avery is involved in something, so everyone tells the story of why he's the dirtbag. Where, I wonder, is the identical outrage over Theo Peckham reaching off ice into the hallway to punch Avery after the latter was already on his way to the locker room? That's not a cheap shot, but Avery is a dirtbag for not giving Smid, who instigated the fight initially and was facing Avery at the time, a few seconds to get his gloves off cleanly? Sorry, you don't get to start a fight and then cry foul just because the other guy is #16.
Oh, and I'm talking to you, Erik Christensen. You told reporters you thought it was a sucker-punch? Fucking really? Do you think you're playing good enough hockey to throw a teammate under the bus? Even if that teammate weren't one of the most consistent Ranger forwards since the lockout (which is more than can be said for you), that is fucking unacceptable! Even if your appraisal of the situation were at all accurate, I'd be hard-pressed to accept that kind of intra-team callout from anyone not named Ryan, Brandon, Marian, or Henrik. Seriously, fuck you, Erik Christensen. Remember that the Rangers are succeeding right now because of coming together as a team and defending each other. You think shit like this is gonna endear you to anyone? Think this'll urge Prust or Boogaard to come to your aid next time Dan Carcillo or Matt Cooke sends an actual sucker-punch toward your skull? Also remember: when Prospal and Drury come back, they're gonna have to replace someone. Your 7 points on the season aren't compelling enough on their own. Don't be a dickhead.
Anyway, all said and done, that brawl ended up incurring the following penalties: Avery got 2 for roughing in the first place. Avery and Smid each got 5 for fighting and a 10-minute "we don't want to deal with you anymore today" misconduct. Prust and Zack Stortini each got 5 for fighting and a game misconduct for fighting once a fight had already started (thus making it a brawl). Boyle and Theo Peckham, like Prust and Stortini, each got 5 for fighting and a game misconduct for fighting once a fight had already started. Peckham also got an additional 2 for roughing and an additional 10, presumably for going after Avery after he'd left the ice. Dubinsky and Colin Fraser each got a 10-minute misconduct for their little "over-the-bench" thing. Generally, I think that was pretty well-called - actually, the whole game was pretty well-called. Despite a momentous pile of penalty minutes (skewed by a momentous pile of fights), the refs generally let them all play the game. So that's nice.
MOVING ON! After that very exciting rout yesterday afternoon, the Rangers are coming to visit me in Pittsburgh tonight. After missing two games with the flu, Lundqvist will be back in net tonight, despite still not feeling 100%. I'm happy about it. In Biron's two wins over the last two games, he came up big occasionally, but also looked soft now and then, and I'm happy to see Hank return to his throne for tonight's match against these goddamn Pittsburgh Forwards. Plus, I'd feel silly wearing a Lundqvist jersey to the Arena with Biron in net.
In other lineup news, after yesterday's battle, Derek Boogaard is hilariously out with a hand injury (presumably from all of the punching his hand was tasked with yesterday). Todd White, who once again cleared waivers recently and then stayed with the team, will be taking his place.
OH AND ALSO! Everyone go check out the new New York Rangers Blog, now part of the Bloguin network (congratulations to Kevin DeLury). Same great timely info, new set of sponsors. Sweet!
AND FINALLY! Colon Campbell would be in a lot of trouble right now, if he were ever held accountable for anything he did! So, basically, nothing has changed. Puck Daddy, as usual, has a pretty good summary of what went down, but basically: former NHL official Dean Warren brought a case against the NHL, claiming wrongful termination of employment. As part of the suit, some emails were released, some of which cast Campbell in a very negative light. Campbell talks about trying to get some officials who penalized his son (whom, you'll recall, is an NHL center) fired, and frequently refers to a strong distaste for Marc Savard - generally, things the neutral head disciplinarian shouldn't be saying.
The outrage goes on and on, but the question is: does this matter? I tend to agree with Puck Daddy here: we are always talking about the disciplinary problems with the league, and how no one is accountable to anyone else in their Good Ole Boys' Club, so nothing changes. Is this actually different? Yes, it's hard evidence of specific bias, but hard video evidence of a pattern completely unacceptable calls has existed for some time, and it never actually matters - there is no punishment for this stuff because Campbell and Bettman are held accountable to nobody. So, will anything actually come of this? In all likelihood, this will be a set of obviously damning evidence that Colon Campbell is clearly biased, childish, and unfit to lead so much as a hockey-themed community parade, and then he will continue to serve as the NHL's Director of Hockey Operations. Because, honestly, why wouldn't he?
THAT'S ALL I'VE GOT FOR NOW! In less than two hours, I'll be heading over to the ironically-sponsored CONSOL Energy Center, the NHL's first ever LEED-certified arena. I'm excited to take some of yesterday afternoon's energy into tonight, and show the Penguins that our Mellon Arena woes died with the building. LET'S GO RANGERS!