Tuesday, May 1, 2007


New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist pad save on a stuff attempt by Buffalo Sabres' Daniel Briere - Game 4 (AP Frank Franklin II)Holy crap-a-rama. What an ending.

In a white knuckle ride of a game, the Rangers beat the Sabres in Game 4, dodging a bullet late to win 2-1. With about 18 seconds to go and Miller pulled from the opposing net, Lundqvist circled around the back of his goal to retrieve the puck, and instead left it for a Rangers teammate. However, the Sabres' Danny Briere gobbled up the puck and nearly stuffed it into the vacated net. Seeing it in real time, it looked like Henrik averted disaster and got his right pad over to the post just in time to keep it out of the goal. After seeing the replay I wasn't so sure, but the angle from the goal-cam certainly was not conclusive to overturn the call of "no goal" on the ice.

That camera is a little weird because the angle is not directly over the line, so there's no way to tell exactly where that puck is; unless it's clearly over the line and not blocked by something from above. The main problem is that people tend to look at it in 2 dimensions, but if you look at the photo, the puck was not sliding along the ice but it was up in Henrik's pad, so who's to say it wasn't tucked under that ridge and not over the line? (Did that make any sense?) (Of course, it would have also been nice if we could see this game in HD, because I certainly couldn't tell where the puck was in the blocky mess that was on my screen. But we're lucky the NHL can afford cameras AT ALL.)

Regardless of the crazy outcome, the Sabres were never really in this game, as the stifling Rangers defensive scheme bottled them up all night. While Maxim For Men sat on the bench, the players on the ice were ineffective: Vanek looked lost and possibly suffering from an injury (or from being European), Briere seemed to be unfocused, and overall the team again looked listless. They didn't play hard until forced to with about 6 minutes left, and by then it was too late. The power play goals that propelled the Blueshirts were scored by Jagr and Shanny, who are both the kind of wily veteran presence that the Sabres could use right now.

(A couple of notes on the Versus broadcast: it stank. I don't know who did the play-by-play, but he was too low key for an exciting game such as this, and the two color guys don't add a thing to the conversation. Plus, they never show a replay when you want to see one, and they're always putting giant promos and statistics on the bottom of the screen that block the action. I'll be happy when the regional sports networks get the games back, albeit briefly.)

So now the series is even (which I actually called correctly, right Kris?), returning to Buffalo for Game 5 Friday night. I certainly would not want to be a Sabres player right now, having to endure the carpet bombing of f-words that is sure to be dropped by coach Lindy Ruff over the next two days.

Buffalo Sabres Daniel Briere shoots on New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist Game 4 MSG NYC 5-1-2007 REUTERS- Brendan McDermidIn the end, I'm glad that the on-ice officials and the magical review elf in Toronto didn't reverse the call, since there honestly was not enough video evidence to support it. If they blew this call that would have made it THREE NIGHTS IN A ROW OF CRAPPY OFFICIATING, and I would have been OFFICIALLY done with these NHL playoffs.

(One other note: I keep reading people saying "I guess the NHL wants the big market teams to win." If that's the case, then why would they screw the New York and New Jersey teams on consecutive nights? Think before you post, idiots.)

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