Apologies for this post-game wrap up coming two days after the game ended. I was not in front of a computer yesterday. No, no. I didn't have to do with the fact that I had no words. I, actually, have plenty of words. They just might not mean very much. Or if I get angry, the might start to ramble and won't make much sense anyway. The risks we take.
To start: Rangers fan or not, I actually enjoyed the 2nd period of Wednesday's game versus the Canucks. Why? Because someone was scoring. There was some life. Who cares if it was mostly from the other team! Either way it saved me from having to watch - yet another - boring 1-1, 2-2 game and ready myself for the shootout. When the team went down 5-1, a girl sitting a few seats away from me said, 'well at least there will be no shootout tonight.'
I love my team. I do. But - and I said this back two or three weeks ago - this team has yet to show a cohesive 60 minute effort where they look awake, play crisp, and look like they have a pulse. And I am still struggling to think of any example to the contrary. Help me if you can.
The fact that they have given up 7 shorthanded goals in just over 20 games is embarassing. It's unacceptable. This team that is priding itself on defense first, is coming up way short on that end. And I'm not talking about the 5 goals they gave up on Wednesday. I'm not. Doesn't matter to me. Any given night a team can come in and have "a" night. It happens. Hank looked a little weaker than usual, but that only brings me to the fact that this guy cannot and should not be expected to stand on his head every night. That's how you get worn out or injured or ineffective. And he's been forced to do that on many nights. Our penalty kill is fantastic and should be applauded. But the defensive play that gets them to be 2nd or 3rd in the league in that category, does not affect 5-5 or 5-4 play. It doesn't. At that point, throw the defensive nature out the window. The Rangers powerplay has been abismal. Or worse. When they score, I get the feeling it's more by accident. I watch other teams play and I see their power plays. Almost every team, except the Rangers, seems to have a life to it during the man advantage. A confidence in moving the puck. A speed and a sense of positive urgency. The Rangers look stale, they look timid, and they look a mess. And that has not changed in years. That alone is embarassing. It's unacceptable. And to not only not score on your powerplay, but give up that many goals - that's just dreadful. Quite honestly, there's just no way to defend that.
Whether is is - the coach's responsibility? The captain's? Each player's individiual responsibility? - someone has got to do something to get this team up to play. They've got to. They start slow, fall behind, and look indifferent unless they are mounting a late game comeback. That got boring after the first time they did it. They are boring. Whether they were designed to be boring or they've just accidentally arrived there, welcome to boredomsville. And that's sad. That's really sad. And, you know what, it's not going to win hockey games.
And hockey should be anything but boring!
And if the Rangers play the way they have the last, umm, well honestly most of this season, and Hank does not stand on his head at all moments, then they are not going to win much more at all. Let's not kid ourselves.
**I like the Canucks uniforms. This is not a new thought. I mean I guess it is because they change them every other year. :) But I like them. Clean colors. Sharp. Maybe they looked better because they were the only team I actually saw skating two nights ago, but. ...well, you get me here, right?
**Valiquette came in for Hank after the 5th goal. It remains for debate whether Hank took himself our or Renney pulled him. I have yet to see the tape and I, like Hank, had my head down after the puck went in the net too. So...? But point remains that Vali played essentially flawlessly. Glad for him to get back in there, despite the circumstances.
**Rangers didn't practice yesterday after what many will say was their worst and least inspired came this season. Interesting. What's better? The practices - apparently - we're being told, don't really have to do with skills or fundamentals or, hell, even the power play. They are for conditioning and flow. Flow. They might be the most conditioned team in the NHL for all their practice at it, but what the hell does practicing "flow" mean? Anyone?
**And just think? 95% of all people were probably expecting a goaltending duel between two of the league's best. Oh that possibility lasted reallllllll long.