The Rangers dropped their third straight in another wild trip to Montreal. (They did get a point since the loss was in overtime.) They jumped ahead 3-1 after a solid first period, but had yet another dreadful second, after which the game was tied at 4 apiece. Neither team scored in a mostly defensive third period. But Mike Cammalleri fired the game winner over Lundqvist’s shoulder, off the iron, and in — his third goal of the game — 2:42 into overtime.
It was a successful reunion for Scott Gomez and Paul Mara, both playing their first game against the Rangers since last season. Gomez, especially, was flying in the first; he was a major factor in the outcome centering Cammalleri’s line and tallying two assists. Chris Higgins, who had scored 84 goals in his past 4 seasons in Montreal, was not so fortunate in his return. He even was benched for the third period after taking a penalty to put the Rangers down two men (which led to a goal) and not getting back in time on another. He could not have been happy with his coach.
Dubinsky also was benched for the third period, in a somewhat shocking move. Though given Torts’ emerging style, perhaps not so. Dubie had committed a fairly bad turnover which led directly to a goal.
Torts had too quick a hook for both. Higgins is a veteran known for his work ethic and reliably scores 20+ a season. Benching him for one mistake (I’m discounting the penalty since it was a high stick while on the pk) is too severe. He’s not a youngster in need of tough love. Now perhaps Dubinsky needs tough love — I”m not sure he does, but I’ll accept the argument for now. Still, this was not the time to bench him. The game was tied and he was playing okay. He is someone who can spark a rally, and certainly is good enough defensively. Maybe a day for benching him will come, but tonight was not it. Plus, Torts now already has benched 3 players in the first 11 games. How many times can (or will) he go to that well before it starts to lose its effectiveness?
Torts also tried to boost the team by shuffling the line combinations. Dubinsky was demoted from the first line. The top line tonight was Gaborik and Lisin centered by Prospal. (Some outlets couched the move as one to boost the second line, which was Cally-Dubie-Higgins. I don’t buy that. Torts loves to tinker, and 2 games without top notch play from the first line was enough for him.) It will be interesting to see how he comes back on Monday night. The new top line played okay offensively, but poor defensively. Lisin has skill, but is not ready for the responsibility. He defers too much to Gaborik. Plus, the waterfall effect that moving him up has on the others lines is too severe. The line combinations are not why we are losing. The reason is the team is still getting used to playing defense in the new attacking system. It will just take time. Torts should be patient. I know, I know. Good luck with that.
Random other notes: Girardi and Staal played an excellent bounce-back game (especially Girardi), Drury continues to be quiet for long stretches (though I have never this year, or ever, questioned his effort), Anisimov scored on a nifty shot, and Gilroy was solid both ways (including a goal).