NEW YORK – It was a game devoid of passion. You could sense it in the crowd, on the ice, and on both team’s benches.
With unfamiliar Dallas (17-11-1) at Madison Square Garden, there just wasn’t much energy in the building for this inter-conference matchup on Tuesday evening. By the time the 1-0 Dallas win ended, many observers called it the most boring Rangers game of the season.
“Not a whole hell of a lot of hate out there,” said Rangers coach John Tortorella.
If this is a sign of what it’s going to be like under the re-aligned NHL next season when every team will play all non-conference opponents twice, the new balanced schedule may not be the best thing for the attention-starved NHL.
“There wasn’t much going on in the first,” said Rangers center Brad Richards. “It was not a high-tempo. I don’t know how to explain it, just kind of a boring type of game.”
“We wanted to make sure we weren’t relaxed, or take it easy because it’s not a division game, a rival game; [it was] a team you don’t see that much,” said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. “I thought we got off to a little bit of a slow start, but I think we picked it up a little bit. It was a sloppy game, pucks were everywhere, pucks were bouncing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the back of the net.”
As warm-ups began, there were well less than 5,000 fans in the building. At puck drop, the quietest crowd of the season was late-arriving. There simply wasn’t a lot of excitement in the building to see the Pacific Division-leading Stars.
“We talked about trying to get momentum, get the crowd into it, get more pucks to the net,” Richards said after Trevor Daley’s goal with 4:59 left in the third sent the Rangers to their third home regulation loss this season. “We started to in the third, but you could tell it was going to be the first goal wins.”
Torts seethes over Hagelin charge
As Carl Hagelin flew after a loose puck into his offensive zone just over 12 minutes into the first period, rookie Dallas goaltender Richard Bachman skated out towards the faceoff dot trying to beat the speedy Hagelin and erase a probable scoring chance.
Bachman got there a split-second before Hagelin. The resulting collision sent Bachman’s helmet flying, and referee Ian Walsh showed Hagelin to the penalty box for charging; enraging John Tortorella in an outburst sure to make the final cut of 24/7’s second episode in eight days.
“It should be a non-call,” Tortorella said after the game. “I think sometimes they [think] they have to call something. It should be a non-call as far as I’m concerned.”
“I told him to do it again,” Tortorella said of his advice to Hagelin after the play. “To skate and do it again. The goalie charged him. The goalie’s out 20 feet, Hags is going after the puck. That’s Hags’ job, to go after the puck. So I said to do it again.”
Lundqvist sore, but OK after near-miss
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (27 saves) said he was OK after taking a second period Sheldon Souray slapper off his left collarbone. Lundqvist was briefly tended to by trainer Jim Ramsey but stayed in the game.
“It’s pretty stiff,” Lundqvist said. “I’m sure it’s going to be stiff for a few days. I’m lucky — I thought it was the collarbone. I thought my shoulder was a few feet behind me.”
“First 20 seconds you’re not sure if it’s broken or just a stinger,” Lundqvist said of his thoughts immediately after Souray’s bomb hit his collarbone. “After a while, I was fine. It’s pretty tight right now, it’ll probably be sore tomorrow.”
The Rangers (17-7-4) are tied for the fewest regulation losses in the NHL.