Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rangers in First. . .?

Hey sports fans. I must first apologize. I was away from computer and TV access this weekend. I know, I know. A Rangers fan who thinks of Opening Day as a more important holiday than Christmas, and she misses the game. Travesty. I know. But if there was ANY way in the world I could have gotten out of my previous engagement, I would have, be assured. At least I got a good breakfast out of the deal.

So I'll be honest. Yes, hockey season has officially started. I've got my fantasy team. I'm working on my predictions. But I feel very behind. Heck, I was the one thinking hockey season was taking too long to get here, even though the summer flew by like none I've ever known before. (As you get older folks, summer - not as long as it was when you were 5.) But yet, the hockey season managed to sneak up on me. Last year, also and ironically, I was out of TV and out of computer friendly zone, for the opening games in Europe. (This better not be an annual pattern!) But I was okay with missing a Los Angeles/Anaheim tilt or two. Missing the Rangers, that was really difficult. And as a result I am both behind, and not really believing the actual hockey season has started. That and the fact that other teams were still playing pre-season games last night and tonight. It's all just really messing with my head.

So here's what I did see/hear. I listened (and sneakily watched) both pre-season games the Rangers played in Bern. Could not be impressed that they trumped a SC Bern squad 8-1 because, well, they are not an NHL squad. And the game against MM (easier that way, isn't it!) - that was fun. As MM went up 3-0, I said, these are my boys. Failing to score. Failing to generate offense. And then they came back. Great end to the game. Great. First Victoria Cup ever, won by the team in New York. On a side note, I think the trophy looked beautiful. Maybe it's my gypsy background (way back there somewhere) but it didn't think it looked gaudy; I thought it looked great. Lit up, especially. Good job on the presentation with that.

Which brings us to the start of the regular season. Which I missed. (Still a tad bitter, I guess).

Oh but before we get to that. Very side note. I was livid when the blogs on Friday morning started rumors that Petr Prucha wasn't playing in his home country to start the season. Really angry and really upset for a guy who, in some ways, has been shuffled to the point of utter confusion and lack of confidence. And he deserved better. I felt and continue to feel that if he is not going to be given a legitimate chance to have a role on this team, he should be traded. I don't want him to, but he should be. Now, game time came and he played, which is the right thing to do. Common courtesy to a guy that wore a smile no matter how many times he got shuffled and/or sat in the locker room last season. So at least they got that one right. Whoever convinced whomever to change their mind, thanks. Because if not, it would have been an embarrassment.

Now, I wasn't able to watch or listen to one second of Saturday's game. I read a blog later so I caught up on play by play. But I did get to listen and/or watch all of Sunday's game. And in the little I did catch - there is one thing that can't be denied. Passing looks better. And they are fast.

Also can't be denied is the fact that this team is piling on the shots but despite that they cannot seem to score. (In fact with the exception of the game against SC Bern they've not scored more than 2 goals yet). And my problem with that is. . .will it get better? We can say that, yes, if they continue to get 40 shots on goal a night, that they will start to score. Very possible. But more possible, that they will not average 40 shots a night on goal. In reality, that'd be hard to do. And we have to consider that despite offensive firepower potential, Tampa Bay is not a great team. And probably won't be. I think all three goalies - Olaf Kolzig, Karri Ramo, and Mike Smith - played impressively against the Rangers in the last week and a half. Very impressive. But Tampa Bay scoring 4 goals a night, will not win them every game. They still lack a cohesive defensive plan, or a plan in general. That may come, but again, my point is, that the Rangers dominated a team this weekend in shots. That might not be the case against the better teams in the league, and it certainly won't be the case every night. Two goals is very average, or even below average in this supposed new "we need more goals" NHL. Regardless, the Rangers are going to need to score more than 2 goals a night. If not for themselves and to get points, for my sanity. Seriously. 2-1 is nice for the moment, but that will not win very many games. Hank Lundqvist played better, but I'll feel better if the talk about his knees is a thing of the past and he doesn't have too many of those "ole" moments where he's kicking his leg and shooting out his glove after the puck is already in the net.

So, despite the ooo-ahhhers who say the Rangers are in first, I still want to see how they fare in the next month against the likes of Dallas and Chicago, Detroit and New Jersey. And of course, sure, a bunch of rushes may look great, but if this fast and quick team fails to score soon, it will only mean lots of frustration in MSG. The same if their supposed boosted PP targets at only 2 for 15.

A long season, folks. A long season.

2 games down and 80 left to go.

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