Monday, April 24, 2006
Brief Rangers update
Down 2-0 with 2:13 to play in the second period, the Rangers have a full two-minute five-on-three power play and a chance to get back into the game—and the series. They pass sloppily in the Devils’ zone and turn it over a few times, but manage a couple of legitimate scoring chances, on one of which Petr Sykora hits the post after Brodeur barely gets a piece of his one-timer from twenty feet out. They were just that close to a 2-1 game. Then, as the penalties expire, the Devils chip it out of the zone to a streaking John Madden, who, just out of the penalty box, comes in alone on Kevin Weekes with no one around him for maybe thirty feet. He slows as he nears the net. And why not? He has all day and all of the night. He dekes, tries to chip it past Weekes on the short side, but Weekes clamps down . . . and the puck trickles weakly behind him, to rest safely on the goal line with five seconds left in the period.
But wait! Here comes Rangers defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh, hustling back on the play. Somehow, Ozolinsh, in “covering” Madden, manages to work his own stick over Weekes’ left shoulder and directly onto the puck (still motionless on the goal line), then manages to poke the puck over the line and into the net. Now, I’ve seen players put pucks in their own net before, but never quite so craftily as this. I mean, this one took dexterity. And what timing, too!
Madden actually had two shorthanded goals on the night, but for this second one, he owes the hapless Ozolinsh a nice pink Cadillac.
In other Eastern Conference news: I think I recall saying, with regard to the Flyers-Sabres series, “I betcha Antero Nittymaki will see some action before we’re through, and not under happy circumstances, either.” Well, sign me up at ESPN.com, folks. Robert Esche was magnificent in a losing effort in game one, but tonight he stopped half of the ten shots he faced. In came Nittymaki, under very unhappy circumstances indeed, trailing 5-0 after just one period. My prediction in the Canes-Canadiens series isn’t looking good, but my, tonight’s 6-5 2OT speedskating contest was fun to watch.