Tuesday, December 07, 2010

N.Y. RANGERS ~ It's Going To Be A Long Grind

NEW YORK RANGERS:  If The Blueshirt Ups And Downs Are Getting You Sea Sick,  That Means You Didn't Prepare Before You Got On Board.

There was something eerily familiar about that last loss to the Ottawa Senators over the weekend.  The 3-1 loss to the Sens was a disappointment; yes. But was it a surprise? No.  Ranger fans knew this was going to be an up and down season with several stinkers along the way.

I can't exactly put my finger on it.  Maybe because for Ranger fans, the problem is hard to spot due to lack of familiarity.  We don't have any real, practical experience recognizing a genuine scorer in a Blueshirt.  We've never drafted one in my life-time.  But we have signed many big names who were ghosts of their former selves along the way.  The latest, and not so latest dynamic affecting this situation presently is the salary cap and GM Glen Sather's feeble handling of it.  And yes, Glen Sather himself.  The contracts he gave Drury (Gomez and the domino effect), Redden and Rozsival still have us shackled to the wall.

There is no scorer coming; this year or next because of it.

As much as we've become enamoured with Callahan  and the rest of "the core" comprised of (a suddenly fading) Dubinsky, Staal and company, we still shouldn't be ogling at them through love blind goggles. When this team is bad, it's bad.  And despite eight goals in two games against the Islanders, this team is still offensively challenged in a major way.  Let's remember, those goals came against the woeful Islanders. 

This past game more resembled the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguin loses when we got out-skated, out-passed and out-classed both on the Power Play and at even strength.  These three loses in particular were systematic dismantlings of the Rangers.  Each time, each team, matched the Rangers' physicality and exceeded it.  But each time they punctuated their game with speed and scoring the Rangers had no chance keeping up with.  At what point did you think the Rangers would score three goals against the Sens the way we play, were playing, and the way the Sens were skating and playing defense?

I thought so.

Were the Rangers caught in "that" part of a brutal schedule and as a team were just physically taxed to high hell?  Sure, to some extent. But that negates nothing I said.

When the Rangers can't scratch, claw and grind out victories; battle for pucks against the boards, finish checks, establish a good fore-check and get the puck low, they usually look horrible losing to someone who skates right by them while a Blueshirt is still looking to scrum.  We then mistake that for being tired, or like me, accuse them of skating in cement shoes.  We do that because we keep comparing them to something they're not, which is a scoring team.  We do that every time they string together some wins.

We live with the occasional Henrik stinker because when push comes to shove, he's money.  Real money we have but there's no cap space to spend it.  Thus, we have no big scorer; a go-to-guy.  We still have no firmly established first line either (or 2nd line, or 3rd line), much less having that one guy.

Sometimes, you just have to outscore opponents.  Sometimes when certain aspects of your game take the night off, it's nice if the scorers can just go out and score goals and cover some butts.  That's gotta be good for 4 wins a season; no?  Not in our situation.  For us these days, that translates into a 3-1 loss.  The only way we are going to win games is by grinding, clawing and Henrik Lundqvist doing hand stands.

I can respect that.  These guys are good guys to root for.  They get a much deserved break this week.  And besides, you can't be disappointed with what you don't expect.

Glen Sather?  Well now...., there's someone we can have a conversation about till our next face off.


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