You will not find me complaining about one thing in last night's game. Not one thing.
It had goals - a season high 6 of them!
It had fights and rough stuff - plenty to go around!
It had spunk.
It had fire.
It had heart.
And man, it was FUN!
Again, fun is a word not too often used regarding the Rangers this year. But one that could not be denied in describing last night's goal fest at the expense of Colorado.
Even Paul Mara said: "I don't think there's been a better feeling in this room all year."
The bigger picture, however, is where it gets more fuzzy. The timing of the 6 goal outburst was somewhat bittersweet. But then again, the timing of everything this year has been less than ideal though, hasn't it?
Allow me to explain.
It was necessary and perfect the Rangers were able to win, and win convincingly, on the last day they play before they go on a four day hiatus between games, in the last game they will play before the trade deadline on Wednesday at 3pm. It gets the pressure off these guys, shows them they can score, and gives everyone the feeling that with a new coach, this team isn't really that bad.
The flip side, the bittersweet part, is that it really was the do-all, be-all. Say the Rangers had this slump more in January, than in February, and say Renney was let go after the Penguins/Rangers game on January 28th (random bad game I'm pulling at there). Say they hired Tortorella then. Say everything that happened now, happened earlier. Perhaps instead of two good games where the Rangers were a better team that could not score and win, and a third game where the Rangers scored plenty and did win, we'd be talking about a string of 7, 8, 9, or 10 games so that we'd all have a better idea of where this team truly is and what they need to do - if anything - before next Wednesday.
Bittersweet in that this group of players who played last night played what was quite possibly one of the most entertaining games the team has played this entire year, they might not all be here come Thursday night.
That is sports, no apologies need be made. But the timing of everything - coach fired, coach hired, team plays 3 games in four nights - was so condensed, I am not sure if I were a manager, a coach, I'd have any idea what to think or what to do. That's the difficult part.
And given our GMs track record of brilliant decisions, I might as well get the Tums and Tylenol out right now. Hell, I probably should have started already.
I'm not going to sit here and hypothesize on what they will do, what I want them to do, what I think they may do. At least not today.
But on the surface, it appears Sean Avery will return. Only mildly ironic in that he'd be returning after the Rangers finally - FINALLY - showed how well they could play and stick up for one another. But fact remains, someone will have to be moved for this to happen.
Who? Who knows. Again, I am not going to speculate here. I'm going to wait and see like everyone else. And medicate, very heavily.
For I'd hate to see the youth of this team go - the heart and the fire - for yet another big name, big guy who will only be here til April. [Not talking about Sean here.]
I do see this team making the playoffs. I just do not see - despite the romping over a last placed Colorado team I must add - them going very far.
That much has not changed.
Thankfully, the fun returned. I hope that big fact does not get forgotten in this bittersweet time crunch.
It's mildly ironic that I opened The Post this morning to read Larry Brooks' Slap Shot column talking about Michael Nylander and how that was a changing point in time for this team. For not only did I mention that to someone at a bar last night, but I have been saying this for years now.
Going back to my blog from October 17th of last year, I said:
"I personally believe we can bring all this back to Michael Nylander's departure from the Rangers. If Nylander stayed, Jagr would have been fine. He would have scored more goals, triggered his contract and would probably still be a Ranger today. That's my opinion. But Nylander couldn't get his 4 year $4 million contract, and they gave $7 million a piece to both Gomez and Chris Drury instead, neither of whom could play with Jagr. I personally, and I won't know for a few years, maybe more, think this was the turning point for the franchise. Now, if the Rangers go forward and succeed, fine. But if they go back to the dark ages before the lockout, I'll look back to that moment. That's my lesson on chemistry. Savoring it when you have it because you don't know when it'll come again. Or if. . ."
Now that's not even taking into consideration PJ Stock's rumor from late in the week that Sather never truly meant to sign both Drury and Gomez. Because face it, if Nylander were around, maybe he wouldn't have had to sign either. That, we'll never know.
Talk about bittersweet.
More on Last Night:
It can't, or shouldn't, be lost in the joy over last night and the way the Rangers broke out, just how bad apparently Colorado really is. I picked them to be in the playoffs this year. BUT, that was without the ESP factor of knowing captain and heart Joe Sakic would miss pretty much the entire season with a horrible string of bad luck injuries, and that Paul Stastny would miss much time as well. None of that excuses my thinking Raycroft and Budaj were good enough to get them through, but I did not think they'd be that bad. Keep that in mind as we bask in the joy of the Rangers beating them, will you.
Prucha continues to impress not only us, his fans, but his teammates and the new coaching staff as well. He, surely, is one of the players that stood to benefit the most from Renney's dismissal. We may never know all the details, and although I've speculated, I know no more than the rest of you, on why Renney disliked the young kid so much. Thankfully that doesn't matter now. I see Prucha being more of John Tortorella's type player. In making his case, he scored a big goal - the goalie chaser - and was the guy who jumped in to defend teammate Brandon Dubinsky as things got dicy in the late stages of the game.
I said it before, and I meant it. If given the chance, Prucha could own this town. He might not be the best player on the team, or even one of the top ten, but when he's confident, he sure plays like he is. And he wants it more. He wants it so much more.
Last night as he scored and the Prucha song returned to the Garden, I smiled. It made me feel like it was 2005-2006 again. A kid doing what he was meant to do. As the Garden responded, I said, yes, these people do appreciate a guy doing more than anyone thinks he should and going it with determination many of his teammates have lacked.
When he entered the late game scrum, I took a breath. When he was pulled away and held at center ice, I felt a stillness.
As he was finally escorted off the ice and into the lockeroom to cheers of his name - yet again - I felt a lightness in my heart. I watched an arena full of people, some who like him, some who love him, and surely many who were at times indifferent, stare down united at this little ball of fire that would just not be put out.
I thought, surely many times, that Renney had done everything he could think of to snuff all the spunk and fire out of this kid.
But it remained. The spunk, the fire, and the heart.
Remember, it's not the size of the man. It's the depth of his character, the will of his determination, and the passion of his being.
Hart candidate? No. HEART candidate.
Around the League:
I didn't really catch much of the action around the league yesterday, but I read this earlier today.
Prayers for Ethan Moreau who looks like he took a horrific accidental high stick to his eye. You never like to see these things happen. No more recent updates beyond this on TSN.ca.
Where Are They Now. . .?
Team Player Action Note
Boston Marc Savard 3 Assists
Washington Tom Poti Assist
New Jersey Brendan Shanahan G(4), Assist
Florida Radek Dvorak 2 Assists
Montreal Mathieu Schneider Assist
Toronto Dominic Moore Assist