Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Battle for New York, Part II

At the first Islanders/Rangers game back on 10/10, the energy in the Coliseum was lacking, despite the full house. The often the case with this rivalry, where the early games tend to lack the sense of urgency that builds later in the season. In fact when the schedule was released, I was disappointed that the first two games between the teams were being played at home, where a raucous crowd can give the team an edge.

Tonight's game had a very different feel to it. Before the puck was dropped, I commented to Tom from Tiger Track that we should set an over/under on crowd fights. The night just had that type of feel to it. The teams gave the fans no reason to settle down, playing fast-paced hockey uninterrupted by a whistle for almost 9 minutes to open the game.

But before that, one of the night's big questions was answered when, about 6 minutes in, DP flashed his right pad to make a great save, easing the minds of many who were concerned about the condition of his injured eye.

Most of the first period continued with a lot of end-to-end action but few quality scoring chances. Things started to get a little chippy late, with Sutton laying a strong open-ice check on Prucha, followed by Prucha taking a retaliatory penalty on Richard Park with 1:26 to go. The Isles could get the PP going and the period ended scoreless.

The second period started all Islanders. New faces Ben Walter and Tim Jackman made their presence known early. In his little ice time so far, Walter has shown a good nose for the puck, and Jackman introduced himself with a big hit, followed immediately by charging to the net for a great scoring chance.

Shortly after the Chicken Dance (yes, the Rangers DO suck), the Isles took their first penalty of the game. The PK looked great, limiting the Rangers to just one late shot on goal. Unfortunately, that one (a point shot from Drury), found its way through DPs pads. I'm sure it's one he would like to have back.

That's how the period ended. Normally a 1-0 deficit would be little reason for concern. But the Rangers have started to build a reputation as a team that wins this type of game.

Early in the third, as I was watching a rowdy Rangers fan get escorted out by security, the Isles tied it up with a nice goal by Hunter (his 4th). Unfortunately, a few minutes later Mara was left alone near the right post, and he put an easy one away to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Not helping the momentum swing, Jackman took a bad penalty behind the play to give the Rangers PP #2. Unlike the first power play, the Rangers had a lot of great chances but weren't able to capitalize.

The next PP chance went to the Isles who took advantage to even the game up at 2, on Fedotenko's 5th of the year. With 10 minutes to go, the tension was really starting to build.

Now the Isles are buzzing, and before I know it Satan scores the go-ahead goal, his third in the last two games. The crowd is starting to take a more active role, and I count crowd fight #4. The pace of the game grows more and more frantic. DP makes a series of PHENOMENAL saves, and we finally get a whistle with 3:05 to go in the game.

With 2:05 to play, Rozsival takes a penalty for holding the stick. Kill this penalty and the 2 points are ours...0:36 to go..."YOU CAN'T BEAT US!" chants everywhere...maybe premature and Lundvist heads for the bench and Hunter takes a penalty with 0:18 to go...Rangers will have a 5-on-4 skater advantage with an offensive zone draw...finally time expires and DP stabs his stick into the air in victory.

Another great game in this heated rivalry. Let's hope the "Rangers hangover" doesn't affect us on Saturday against the Devils. After the 10/10 game, I predicted the days of experiencing this let-down were behind us, and we proceeded to lose to Toronto 8-1 the next night. Hopefully that's an experience they learned from, and they'll continue winning these all important divisional games.

Thanks to Tim Jackman for taking time to answer our questions after the game. Unfortunately most of our questions focused on what happened in the locker room between the second and third period...he missed everything since he was in the training room getting stitched up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The post-Ranger hangover shouldn't come into effect, especially since they have a few days in between the games. I'm always worried when there is the second game so close to the Ranger game. This team seems to have a different mentality and I think they are starting to gain confidence. Would love to get through this stretch of division games undefeated. They are doing what they have to do, which is hold serve at home. Let's hope it continues.