Over their last 120 minutes of Hockey, the Rangers have stunk up the joint for four periods and found it within themselves to show up for the other two. If they could have rearranged them better, they might have at least one win to show.
*Their first two periods against the Canadiens in Montreal Saturday night were forgettable. The Rangers came apart like a cheap sweater. They rallied in the third period to make it a game.
*Their first two periods against the Flyers in MSG Sunday night were forgettable. The Rangers came apart like a cheap sweater. They rallied late in the third period to make it a game.
Yea...the games were repeat performances. But, at least in the Flyers game we had chances. We put a lot of shots on PHI Goalie-Boucher, but he kept turning us away.
Pre-Game Warm-ups; Flyers vs. Rangers
I told you I had a really bad feeling about Sunday's game. My section was polluted with Flyers fans because all the season ticket holders give their tickets away on Weekend Kid's Day. But of all people, I had a slight problem with a mush-mouth, pumpkin-puss, 50-something Ranger female Rooter in my seat. I'd love to tell you the story, but will take a pass. It's just that sometimes kindness will get you nowhere. I had a better time listening to Jody Shelley and Zherdev jokes, and barbs about the Flyers being in first place, than I did the nonsense coming out of Snaggletooth's mouth. I digress.
I showed self restrain but Saturday night Henrik Lundqvist didn't. He felt like he needed to throw his weight and a few punches around. I gotta say, I love the spirit of our Goalie, but I'm perturbed by the fact no one fought that fight for him.
Sunday, Sean Avery took matters into his hands, showing the younger Rangers what it takes to compete with the Flyers. A round-house hook by Avery sent Flyers' Matt Carle to his knees and my section into a brief burst of celebration. But it wasn't enough to get our youngsters past the Flyers. It was a lesson for them to learn none-the-less, and one they had better grasp quickly.
Elsewhere on the Forward Front,
The Ranger forwards continue doing the Cha-Cha; taking two steps forward and two steps back. The absence of Ryan Callahan continues to exact it's toll on the Blueshirt Lines. Without him we lost alot of our 60 minute sustainability, physicality, and discipline we need to play with over a whole game. He's been Tort's guy on the ice keeping eveything going Coach's way. His absence has kept the continuing unsettled forward lines situation, that have plagued this team all year...unsettled. And increasing desperation is setting in as the Blueshirts continue to endure a lack of production from Marian Gaborik. The effects of a shoulder injury should be long behind Gaborik now and serve as no excuse today. One is only left to ponder what has last year's 40+ goal scorer stuck in the mud? More and more it's becoming evident, the answer lies with last year's line-mate; Vinny Prospal. His return and any possible effectiveness are still huge question marks. In the mean time, perhaps Gaborik should be reunited with Sean Avery on a line again, because the fact is, Gaborik hasn't played as good or better with anyone else. But Coach Torts still refuses to commit Avery to big minutes and I continue to say that's a mistake.
Even worse than our Forward Line Merry-go-Round is our Power Play. It gets more impotent with every passing shift and with no improvement in sight.
Things they go over in practice get applied in the short term but fade over games. Remember all that stuff Coach Torts preached about the Power Play; about passing and moving without the puck..blah blah? Well, they've gone back to playing Frisbee around the perimeter again and the pigeons have returned to their favorite statues. Remember how he instructed his team to put shots on goal from bad angles, or any angle as a general rule; at even-strength or other-wise? I remember. You might remember too. But it seems after a night or two of remembering things, the Rangers revert to old habits.
The real problem here is the same problem we've been facing since the opening of the season back in October. When you struggle to score, it's easy to think of every reason why, and point to this, that, or the other. You orchestrate a Forward Line system of musical chairs because as a Coach, you get paid to do things, try stuff, and invent something from nothing. We are where we are truly based on the strength of our grittiness and willingness to out-hustle other teams. When our tenacity takes a night off, the Lights go out on Broadway. When our tenacity takes periods off, we lose games.
Scoring and winning makes all that go away. So, it is what it is. Toronto comes to MSG tomorrow and we've been able to rely on them this season for games that make us feel better about ourselves. We also get to say hello again to an old friend; Colton Orr.
The Rangers play four games in the next six days. Only tomorrow's game against the Maple Leafs is at home. So maybe a road trip is what they need to get out of their little funk. After tomorrow, it's off to Carolina to play a team that always gives us fits! After that we go to Atlanta. The last time we played them in our place, they THRASHED the place with six goals. We finish the road trip with a stop in the Nation's Capitals to play.....uh, the Capitals and the Tasmanian Devil. We played a great game against them last time around. Let's hope these kids of ours can repeat the feat.
Let's Go Rangers!