I'll try to give them a little bit of a break today.
Look I have not apologized (too much) this season, and I am not going to start this late in the year. I'd rather tell the truth, as I see it, day in, day out. Whether it's harsh or happy, I'll at least try my hardest to be honest in my feelings and my opinions. Of that you can be assured.
That being established, a few thoughts came to mind as I watched the game last night and reflected on it into this morning.
The question has been raised over and over recently - has Tom Renney lost this team? Many thought yes. Others thought no. The players keep saying we want to play, we are behind him, blechety blah, bleckety blah.
Yet why, last night, when they essentially stopped playing Renney-style hockey, skated to win, skated with energy, did they finally find a way to score, and inevitably come away with a win? More importantly, I ask myself, was this decision made by the players? Was tonight's different energy and momentum just a result of their going against the coach's wishes? Because please don't tell me the coach of garbaly-gook disguised as highly intelligent analysis actually said to them, go out there, go play wide open hockey, and go play to win?
Am I the only one that has trouble believing that?
Is it not more likely that this, like the last 10 minutes against San Jose and like the last 10 minutes against Boston more recently, was just the players realizing that they had to abandon the system in order to score and consciously knowing, in the wake of their late embarrassing games, they had no choice but to score. In San Jose and in Boston it was to push the tie. Players essentially said, when they were down, they had no choice but to do anything to try to score. Including putting unrelenting pressure on. Including letting up on defense.
Is it not so hard to believe that last night was simply a larger magnification of the same thing. After going 0-4-1 in their last five games and scoring a total of five goals during that span, was it not just an utter need to score, and score at all costs, that made the Rangers, umm, score.
I truly think so.
I'm still baffled and amazed that this team was capable of scoring four goals. I am.
But maybe I shouldn't be. Maybe I really shouldn't be. Maybe, if they were to fully skate, fully let go of the defense-first, win 2-1 or bust mentality, maybe they would have won more games. Maybe they would have scored more goals.
Look I am not for a second saying that this team's one game has made me reconsider any of the disgustingly inexcusable and horrificly embarrassing play of late - or definitely not the lack of defensive responsibility, lack of energy and heart, lack of urgency, lack of offensive prowess, lack of consistency, lack of powerplay production, and lack of accountability that plagued this team all year.
The jaded me, the part of me that usually wins out, still thinks that perhaps last night was just a drop in the bucket. To borrow a line from a Angels in the Outfield, that it was "merely a blip on the screen of a terminally ill patient."
Don't forget, this team still cannot and did not - in its four goals - score on the powerplay last night. That including a string of four consecutive Washington penalties in the third, one being a four minute double minor. Also not to be forgotten in the excitement over the team scoring four goals was the fact that they gave up four goals as well. Ovechkin, although hitting everything in site - twice - had a relatively quiet night on the scoresheet. Beggars can't be choosers, but I'm just stating facts here.
I don't know. The game in Florida on Friday and the game against Philadelphia on Sunday will both be very telling to that question of whether this was a corner turned or a moment of sanity in an otherwise insane run. The Rangers have been a team of good and bad this year, mostly bad it would seem, so whether they build on scoring four goals and beating a very good Washington team or quickly resort back to the futile past efforts will tell you what this team can and is willing to do going forward.
At the very least - and this is what I will take away from last night - it was more entertaining on the part of the Rangers than any game I've seen them play in a month, perhaps longer. Starting with the Orr/Brashear fight that was quite remarkable really, filling in with a beautiful goal by Callahan off a feed by Korpikoski (did those two have a nice night. Just imagine them getting - or giving themselves - the green light to go free more often) , and topped off with a shootout victory that didn't feel as forced or undeserved as some of the others this year have.
I said if they were going to win, let them win by trying. They most certainly did that.
Around The League:
Capitals defensemen Mike Green scored two more goals last night - his 20th and 21st on the year - to tie an all time record for defensive scoring in consecutive games (7). I don't get people that don't like good players from other teams doing something cool, something that hasn't been done in a long time. As it turns out, Green's goals really had nothing to do with the outcome of the game either way. They were not game winners. They did not eliminate our team from playoff contention. Let the guy be congratulated. He's been a marvelous player to watch.
As I drove home late last night and put on the Calgary/Anaheim game, the announcer told the score of the OTHER late game - Montreal/Edmonton. Me guessing the bowling idea didn't work out quite as planned, huh Guy?
But seriously, let's not kid ourselves. The only true difference between Montreal and the Rangers right now - cause trust me the comparisons between the NYR fans complaining on the blogs and the Montreal fans complaining on the Team990 are so eerily similar - is that the Rangers won last night and Montreal's losing streak continued.