|LaRose leads Whalers over the
The Rangers remnants who had fought so hard to maintain a 7-3-1 record while a good piece of their offense was away at the WJC perhaps took a little two much for granted on this night. The Rangers' newly assembled top unit of: Campbell - Roy - Boucher was supposed to make a huge difference. Problem was the intensity of the work a day Rangers who showed up the past 11 games, didn't on this night despite the fact that nearly 5,500 fans that did make the trip for the rare Tuesday night game. The top line didn't score, and perhaps after the war that Campbell and Roy had gone through at the WJC's in Halifax, that and their new linemate: Boucher who isn't completely climatized to the Rangers much less the league quite yet; cannot be blamed. Problem with the top line not putting points on the board was the was fact that it often appeared as if the rest of the team had little intensity, waiting to see some of the patented Derek Roy magic. Unfortunately none of this magic was forthcoming, and worse yet, Derek Roy was injured in the second period, and did spend a substantial amount of time on the bench doubled over in pain.
For the first time in a long while, the Rangers were able to honor their own World Junior Championship players. Derek Roy along with Gregory Campbell were rewarded and recognized for their efforts in Canada's silver finish. Whaler: James Wisniewski was also recognized for his efforts on behalf of the US team. Both of the Rangers were meet with standing ovations, and later 4th year defender: Steve Eminger who still has yet to play for the Rangers this season was greated with cheers from the Rangers' faithful as his face appeared on the new Memorial Auditorium scoreclock. Eminger who until the World Junior Championship tournament played with the Washington Capitals of the NHL, but was just released to the Rangers as of noon gameday. Eminger visited the Aud for the third period after arriving in Toronto on Tuesday night.
The return of Eminger does create some wild speculation in terms of what might happen in terms of the Rangers defense situation. Perhaps that can be attributed to the play of the Rangers' 6 who have been rock solid on a consistent basis. Giveaways and ill-advised gambles lead to chances and odd-man rushes, similar to those which enabled Chad LaRose to undress netminder Scott Dickie twice. His goals in the second and third period respectively, would both give the Whalers the lead, the third time that they led, they made it count scoring with only 45 seconds left. The Rangers would push with netminder: Scott Dickie on the bench in favour of the extra attacker but run short of time in the end. Chad LaRose was in on all of the Plymouth goals and was named 2nd star. Netminder Paul Drew was the top star on this night, like a vacuum cleaner doing a very stingy job around the house, Drew refused to leave any rebounds behind, and the Rangers who generate much of their offensive from the blueline failed to get many quality shots through from the point. To add to frustrations, pressure on those defenders by Plymouth wingers often resulted in poor decision making, and odd-man rushes, a bad pinch by veteran defender: George Halkidis led a Whaler two on one resulting in the game winning goal with only 45 seconds left on the clock. With such little time on the clock when the goal was score, the decision to pinch is definately one that will be question in the days leading up to the next game against the Saginaw Spirit on Friday night.
The Whalers played a flawless road game. They capitalized on the Rangers' mistakes and forced others. Starting netminder: Scott Dickie was all too often left to his own devices in the Rangers net. He bailed the Rangers out on several odd-man rushes, but the Rangers went to the well one time too many and perhaps two times too many, the team failed to learn their lessons from the first time. Despite ending up on the short end of the stick Scott Dickie was named the games' third star. The Rangers four on four play, usually the teams forte was at times a disaster, they narrowly avoided the go ahead goal twice, prior to LaRose giving the Whalers a 2-1 lead in the second. Michael Richards' goal was a blast from the faceoff dot, O'Nabigon was screening the netminder as this line has become accustomed to, as the powerplay shot found it's way past Drew and just barely inside the far post.
The Rangers 8 game home unbeaten streak came
to a violent stop with this loss to the Whalers the second for the Rangers
this season. Ryan Ramsay got the last laugh against his former team.
In the last matchup Ramsay had two goals, in this matchup he had two helpers.
The loss left the Whalers only two points back of the Rangers in the conference
with two games in hand. With the Whalers ranked 6th in the nation,
the Rangers might expect to see a swap of positions on the CHL top ten
after the loss.
Exceptional game night photography
done by: Duct Tape.