NEW YORK – Your eyes were not deceiving you last night, Rangers fans. Your team was taking the shaft from the referees in the 6-3 loss to the Canadiens.
There were just too many inconsistencies on the ice, as the whistles stayed in the zebras’ pockets for most of the game, but then came out in the third against the home team, while the Habs kept enjoying taking liberties.
It was so glaring that coach Tom Renney – a man who usually reserves comment about the officials – lashed out against the on-ice arbiters after the match.
“I think we had the game in control and we lost control because we didn’t get the calls we thought we should have,” Renney said. “It’s tough playing the game, let alone referee it. What we did is was get a little off track when not getting what we thought we deserved.”
It wasn’t the non-calls that bothered the coach or the team, but rather the inconsistencies of the penalties. For the first 29 minutes of the game, the whistles stayed in the pockets at both teams took liberties on the ice. And after 40 minutes of play – and a 2-2 score – only one infraction was blown, when Michal Rozsival took a hooking call at the 11 minute mark of the second.
No, that didn’t bother the Rangers, who thought the first 40 minutes was a continuation of their 4-0 win on Monday night. It was in the third where all things went haywire when the Blueshirts took three visits to the sin bin in the first 4:12 of the period.
It started when Aaron Voros has a hooking call at 2:29, which resulted in the game winner just three second later, Andre Markov shot Tomas Plekanec’s faceoff win past Henrik Lundqvist to give the Canadiens the lead for good.
“From the description I got [the penalty] was a little mysterious,” Renney said.
After that tough break, there were not one, but two calls against the Rangers on Ryan Callahan and Scott Gomez, giving Montreal a 1:25 5-on-3 power play which Robert Lang was able to convert just 28 seconds in.
Yet, those calls are the breaks and, true to form, Renney took some of the blame about the officiating.
“I don’t care about the calls against us,” he said. “I am ok with there. But there are calls out there we certainly thought were penalties.
“Maybe I got to be more vocal and get a call or two. It seems to work for other teams so maybe I should do that.”
Even if he rants and raves on the bench, the Rangers need to still play a little bit better hockey. Although there was poor refereeing, the Blueshirt did have a chance to at least tie the game after Rozsival made it 4-3 just two minutes later. But they couldn’t stop Lang, who scored with about 4:30 left and then on an empty netter to make it a 6-3 final.
“As a team, we played really well, but you can’t expect to win, when I give up five goals,” said Lundqvist who had 19 saves on the night. “I didn’t play really bad, but I need to play better.”
The loss put the Rangers in a tie for first with Philadelphia [both have 51 points] for tops in the Atlantic Division, but because of the Flyers two games in hand, the Blueshirts are actually now in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, after leading for most of the season.
Notes: Lang had the hat trick on the night…The King of Queens Kevin James was attendance plugging his new movie Mall Cop…The Rangers now go on the road for five games and come back on the 20th for a match against the Anaheim Ducks.