Pages Navigation Menu

“Ouchies, My Face!”

“Ouchies, My Face!”


How can you identify the rare boring hockey game? Well I really don’t know specifically, but whatever the answer it happened during the Ranger game against the Buffalo Sabres Sunday afternoon. At least for the first 40 minutes, until a dirty hit sparked a powder keg of excitement that carried through to a shootout.

The first two periods passed pretty uneventfully, except a lone Sabres’ goal. At 8:04 into the second, Drew Stafford netted his second goal of the season. I predict Stafford to go a massive hot streak rivaling the temperature of Krypton’s red moon, because I dropped him from my fantasy team.

But the pivotal moment of the game was the Patrick Kaleta hit on Rangers’ forward Brad Richards at the beginning of the second period. Kaleta cross-checked Richards in the small of the back about 8 feet from the boarding sending Richards face first into the unforgiving wall.

The hit was so dirty it draws comparisons to sewage, or Lindsay Lohan’s snatch (probably a toss-up smell wise.) Kaleta received a much deserved 5-minute major and was ejected from the game.

The Rangers could respond in one of two ways. First option; get violent. You take out one of our stars; one of your first line forwards is going to take a few nasty shots in the corner.  This is fair revenge as long as it doesn’t lead to escalation, which it usually does. The Rangers don’t really have too many brawlers on this current roster to deal with that elevation. So, physically, New York bided their time until the overtime when Dan Girardi dished out a slightly more legal hit on Tyler Ennis.

Kaleta’s hit resulted in a 5-game suspension. Girardi’s was a simple boarding minor. Revenge is best served cold, though that may not be true in hockey because, well, everything is cold.

The second and really the better option was to make Buffalo pay on the scoreboard. Kaleta’s penalty gave the Rangers a 5 on 3 man advantage, as Buffalo’s Andrej Sekera was already in the box for hooking 19 year old J.T. Miller. But hey, if anyone can not capitalize on a 5 minute power play and enormous momentum shift it is New York.

Then something happened that the odds were so astronomical I pray for the day time machines are invented so I can go back in time and place money down for this forthcoming miracle. The Rangers power-play quickly netted not just one but two goals during the 5 minute man advantage. As a result, I literally fell out of my chair and had to be revived on my dining room floor. I’m not kidding, people were concerned. (ED. Note - they weren’t THAT concerned)  That brought the Rangers power-play to 4 for 25,478 on the season.

The first power play goal to tie the game was off the stick of Derek Stephan. Rangers possessed the puck off the faceoff and quickly move it to the left side. Before the Sabres can fully get into position Rick Nash threads the puck through the defense to the right side where a wide open Stephan finishes strong to the short side. That goal took less time than Gary Bettman on his prep school prom night.  (Ed. Note – We have no way of knowing how long a young Gary Bettman would last in a romantic setting.  Greg Is trying to give me an anuerysm)

Nash would put the puck in the net himself 43 seconds later, during the ensuing 5 on 4 power-play. Again the penalty unit moved the puck quickly and efficiently causing the defense to attempt to cover too much ice. Nash would find some space inside the left circle and put the puck underneath the blocker of Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, giving New York the lead for the first time in the game.

Things were just going so well that it was inevitable that something would bring the Garden crowd down from this high. Not like the high you used to be able to achieve in the MSG stairwells, a metaphorical high.

With just nine second remaining in the Kaleta penalty Buffalo’s Steve Ott makes a great play chipping the puck past defenseman Ryan McDonagh and beats Michael Del Zotto creating a fast break going the other way. Ott makes Nash look like a belly flopping autistic baby seal when he attempts to block the shot. Instead Ott easily evades Nash, passes to Nathan Gerbe who beats Henrik Lundqvist glove side for a short-handed goal. That tied the game at two goals apiece and would lead to the eventual shootout.

I think the shootout should be the Rangers’ biggest strength. They have some of the most talented goal scorers and the most talented goalie in the league in King Henrik. They displayed this dominance with two beautiful goals by Nash and Callahan, both juking and jiving Miller out of his pads. Miller was in fact down to his jock after the Callahan strike. Henrik on the other end made child’s play out of Ennis and Jason Pomniville’s attempts and secure victory and two points for the New York.

The Rangers are climbing back into playoff contention and with a string of games this week need to capitalize. This season is already half over, and the Rangers seem to be finding their stride at the right time.

To Contact Greg, or any AFRSports Columnist, please E-Mail: