The Rangers scored last night. Really that shouldn't be news, but it is. Because they can't score. Or they won't score. And they hadn't scored in over a week - literally - after being shutout at home twice in a row.
I knew they'd have problems scoring, but come on now...
The game against the Bruins was up tempo and great, a real put-together effort.
The game against the Devils was frustrating in only that they lost in the skills competition of the hockey menu. (And that thing about Brodeur but I won't digress).
The game against Ottawa was some of the most mind-numbing play (if we can call it that) I've seen in this year. Did they even know they had a game? Should they have to have been told?
The game last night. Well, I kinda had a feeling that, for irony sake, if Voros was in the lineup he'd have something to do with scoring. He had an assist. As the Rangers finally score a goal.
Again, shouldn't be news, but in NYR world, it kinda is.
After the last week of "whatever-it-was" I have a few questions/thoughts/confusions going on.
One (as mentioned in my last entry) I'd read in Rangers Rants that after Erik Christensen missed in the shootout, he had a hard time sleeping.
After the Ottawa game, Rangers.com writer Jim Cerny tweeted that:
Maybe most down post-game locker room all year for #Rangers; Del Zotto, Boyle, Prospal among those really taking it to heart #NYR
10:50 PM Jan 14th from web
We all saw Gaborik's quotes that he said that Ottawa's first goal in the dying minutes Thursday was "his fault" and it "cost us the game."
Every game we see Hank take the burden of the game on himself. I've said for along time, no one takes it harder when the NYRs lose than him. I'm sure he's even hard on himself in games he does NOT EVEN PLAY. Because that's the type of player he is.
So, why, I ask, is is so easy for these players to feel badly. And for others to seemingly not care?
Prospal is a gamer, a Marty Straka type guy. He gets it. He gets what it takes to win and feels bad when they lose.
Del Zotto, the 19-year-old rookie who has had a great year and who makes me happy to be a fan. He gets it.
Boyle, the 4th liner, he gets it.
Gaborik and Hank, the two guys who going into this season we knew would be carrying this team on their back, they get it.
And Christensen, Erik - I wasn't even here a month ago - Christensen, he gets it?
I'm happy these players get it. I am. It just makes me curious who else does?
Does Drury get it? I realize he may not be the captain we expect, or certainly not the player he is paid for, but at what point do you have to, for benefit of the team and the fans, consciously put aside the fact that you are a boring, mumbling human being, and act like a captain. Even if that isn't who you are. At what point do you show the world that you care?
Erik Christensen couldn't sleep the other night.
Did Chris Drury have a problem?
I've spoken before, namely last season, and a lot, about passion and personality, and how it matters.
And it matters less when you are doing your job, surely, and gets magnified, to me, when you are not.
I like this team better. I really do. But more than halfway through, we can come to some conclusions.
*Brashear is useless to this team. I tried to give the benefit of the doubt (to a degree) to start the season. But I think we can safely say that if he was ever to be effective, he is now too old, too injured to do so in any capacity.
It now makes perfect sense (and lacks all sense not) to play Aaron Voros every night in his place. Why? At least Voros seems to care. That much can definitely be said. Not one can, and ever will, show the grace and humility Prucha did when scratched repeatedly, but I think Voros has done an admirable job of taking it. And tell me how he's worse? He skates better, and if the last two Brashear fights are any indication, he may actually fight better at this point. Or at least not fall down anymore.
$1.4 million waste of money. And most of us knew it in July.
* This team will only go as far as Gaborik takes them. Another conclusion we probably could have reached in July. Gaborik is upset he thinks he cost the Rangers one game in January. Marian, how many did you win for them? Seriously, how many games were you the only one scoring, the only one providing any enthusiasm or sense of purpose? And he's on himself because he's not a shootout wizard? Please. Gaby, if you were not here in New York, the Rangers would be holding up Carolina and Toronto in the standings.
* As much as Gaborik is important, vital, to this team, Hank has proven himself to be the backbone. This is Hank's team, guys. No doubt anymore. It doesn't matter that he doesn't wear the C.
- He (and Avery) called that meeting to try to get the team back on track.
- He is very often the reason they win or remain in games they should not.
- He is the guy who you have no doubt - NO DOUBT - tears himself up over this team.
Hank, Hank is the backbone of this team. No question about it.
* Beyond a bright future on defense (I include Staal with Del Zotto and Gilroy), a superstar talent (Gaborik), and Hank, this team is not as good as I thought they were. Not that I thought they were good, mind you. But I thought they were 8th place material, that perhaps they'd fall between 6 and 10th, and hopefully squeeze into the playoffs at 8. They probably aren't even good enough to do that. They'll benefit surely from a weaker East. They may very well get into the playoffs if other teams collapse. But they are a team trying to put it together, not a team with their act together.
* Inconsistency has been the worst part of this team, has it was last year, and times before that. A 60 minutes effort is a rarity. And even when it is there (like Tuesday versus NJ) there is sometimes nothing to show for it. I'm disappointed, for myself as a fan, and for the players that do try so hard. Why should Hank and Gaborik (and Boyle and Del Zotto, and Christensen, and Prospal) beat themselves up all the time? When it's a 20 player game and so many of the rest of them are invisible.
Rangers take on the Habs tonight. I can see this going badly. Since Poulliot has joined the Canadiens, Gomez has looked a real player again. Yep, I can see this being an interesting return trip to MSG.
In happy news, Prucha scored 2 goals (and almost a 3rd) in a 6-4 win over the Wild in the desert last night.
Prucha has 11 goals on the season.
More goals than any Ranger that is not wearing #10 on his back.