Friday, December 12, 2008

Two Days Late. . .

Okay, there was a two day delay between the time the Rangers won the game, in overtime, versus Atlanta, but I didn't really know what to say yesterday.

I guess I still don't, exactly, but I'm going to give it a try.

I didn't want the Rangers to lose, necessarily, because surely I love the team and I would have hated to see Valiquette lose especially in an embarrassing way. (People must wonder why I have this adoration for backup-goalies, but it's really just a sense of wanting them to be successful when they really get so few chances to shine. They put in hard work people, and Vali is a standup guy. I mean imagine training your whole life to be a goalie and when they make it, they only get to play 5% or so of the time. It's what it is and they play a very important role, but I guess I just have some extra sympathy for that in life).

But admittedly, on some level, I wanted the Rangers to get burnt by Atlanta. I know. Travesty for a fan, especially one as committed as I am. (And I am). But I really only wanted them to lose so as to raise a few red flags that something is very wrong. And even if not very wrong, wrong enough that I am not the only one that feels this way. And I'm not.

The team might not be much better than they are playing, that can be argued. Maybe this is a good as they can get and as fans, we should be overjoyed that they started so well and still have such a nice record and might make the playoffs despite playing way better than they are.
But that isn't enough. And not because I'm accustomed to them winning or following winning teams. Repeat with me - New York Rangers. Not the most winningest of franchises. That's a fact.

I know that and I'm fine with it.

It's not enough because they actually, on most occasions, appear lazy. Whether mentally or in action. And that is unacceptable. I just don't see how all these players (who I do respect, surely) and their coach (a person I like but whose ability to control and motivate his team I am starting to question) can keep giving these answers that they think they are seeing improvement (to which I ask, um, where) and that they have worked very hard in all their games.

So that is what working hard looks like?

They are boring. I don't know how hard work translates to the most boring hockey I've seen in a long time. The 03-04 team that won 14 games all year at home was more exciting than these guys.

They don't hit as much as they could. They don't skate as fast as I know they can (because come on, we all saw them play in Europe). They don't play disciplined (which isn't a new story at all). And they don't make crisp passes to or seem at all connected to their other teammates on the ice.

These are all causes for concern!

Their lack of goal scoring (unless their wooo-hooo three goal output on Wednesday pushed them up a spot) is 29th in the league. Close to dead last. For guys being paid that much money to help scoring, that's unacceptable. I mean I can't say I'm surprised because while many discounted the pre-season, this is a team that did not score more than 2 goals once, unless you count the Swiss escapades against SC Bern in the mix. It was bad in September, it is bad now.

The Rangers should have lit up Johan Hedberg (another good guy I respect but they should have). They should have won, like Pittsburgh won over the Islanders last night, 9-2. They should have had one of those random 7-0 games, where Callahan pots two, Drury gets one, Naslund and Zherdev each a pair. That should have been their game.

Instead, they got a smart goal from Colton Orr, another one from Ryan Callahan, and gave Atlanta a point because they could not wrap them up in regulation.

But there's no problem is there?

I wasn't even glad when Gomez won it. I mean maybe a little because, again, Valiquette. But I was not joyous. I said, well that's different (any game that the Rangers aren't fully embarrassed or win in a shootout is something different, let's face it) and I went upstairs.

I don't think there was a highlight of the night, but the lowlight for me, was Drury's interview in the intermission. I am not saying he's a bad guy. He has to be a heck of a nice guy. But he is also one of the most boring human beings I've ever heard speak. Ever.

And that is their captain. Their captain!

I started to wonder earlier this week if one Mr. Renney, who made it clear he hand picked the captain himself, chose Drury because he has the most boring, bland personality of anyone on the entire team, and therefore, would not question anything or go against anything Renney was saying. This guy could have his foot stomped off by a giant and there he'd be, in the lowest voice imaginable, saying, ooo, I'm so sorry.


He makes $7 million to be captain, to not really be a captain, and $7 to score, but to not really score, $7 to win faceoffs, but to not really win faceoffs. They only thing the guy does, is penalty kill and bore reporters and media to death.

I'm sorry, but it is true.

What makes it worse. The Rangers got rid of guys that apparently, can score. And I don't just mean Jagr and Straka and Nedved and well, anyway. What about last night's Pitt/Isles game. Granted a 9-2 game is the every day. But Petr Sykora, a last minute Rangers edition 3 years ago, scored his first career hat-trick (congratulations to him by the way), but he had 38 (39?) two goal games in his career. Another good player the Rangers didn't want to have stick around.

For the record, Pascal Dupuis, who was a Ranger for less than 2 weeks, scored a hat trick for Pitt in the same game as well.

But the Rangers do not have problems scoring. Nope. Not at all. 29th in the league. An average of just over 2 goals a game. And a very good chance they lose if Hank doesn't stand on his head.

Don't think that's a problem?

Hank is too good a goalie and too prideful a man to not wear himself out trying to make up for this team. Trying to have them win and be successful. No, he's not perfect. He looks lousy on one on 0-s that are not part of the shootout, he sometimes appears massively out of position, and there are times he should be teethered to his net.

But he is the best thing to happen to this team in a long time. If the Rangers continue riding him like they are, he won't make it to 30. So much for the team's future.

And that's not cause for concern?


**Note: Rangers will play the Devils in NJ tonight. I am expecting one of two things. The Rangers to win because that's what they've done against the Devils the last two years. Or the Rangers to look sloppy and have a Devils team, without Brodeur, embarrass them. I am not sure which is winning in the polls.

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