NEW YORK RANGERS: Note on Winning Streaks; Stay Away From Canadian Teams.
GLEN SATHER: Would You Kindly Keep Your Hands Off Our Team Please?!
Sacre Bleu! For the second time since October 31st, the Rangers embarked on at least a five game winning streak only to have them both ended by a team from Canada.
To kick-off the initial seven game winning streak, the Rangers must have struck a nerve against the San Jose Sharks. A certain Mr. Joe Thornton apparently took exception with losing to a "soft team" as he called us. No matter; the Broadway Softies proceeded to win their next six against Anaheim; the first meeting against Montreal; Winnipeg; Ottawa; Carolina; and the Islanders. The streak was stopped cold in Montreal as the Canadiens took a game back from the Rangers. Call it Win Streak-Lite because the heavy stuff was still to come.
After a second flop in Florida, the schedule stopped rubber-necking on us, and the latest five game winning streak was born. In our most recent game however, the Toronto Maple Leafs ended it. Unlike when Montreal ended the last streak, this loss was a little more concerning to me as we are now 0-2 versus Toronto. The Maple Leafs won both games we've played against them by identical 4-2 scores. That's not two losses, that's a pattern.
But I'm not doing that..., as this is more about the wins; where we are; who we are; and where we're going. This coming Thursday night's game against Tampa Bay will be game number twenty-five of the season. And without getting carried away, it's not too early to feel good about the state of the Rangers. As a matter of fact, it's a very fair time to start expressing pleasure with the team. The reason is because we've been methodically building-up to our present situation for a few years now. And well Ranger Fans, our patience is finally starting to pay off. Before Wednesday's night's games, the Rangers were tied for fourth in the conference with thirty-three points. And if you toss the Maple Leaf's loss aside, the Rangers are still in the midst of winning twelve of their last fifteen games. Their most recent five game win streak was punctuated by wins over Washington; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Carolina; and Tampa Bay; in that order. That's a hell of a run.
I do not believe the Rangers are inside their typically fast early start before their struggle for eighth place starts in earnest later in the season. This Rangers team is for real, and capable of sustaining this level of play. I say that because this team was built the right way.
There are many different ways to characterize thirty-three points after twenty-four games played. In the Rangers case, theirs are characterized by having organizational patience in developing their young talent and letting a core group of players grow together. Then, smartly made acquisitions get made to compliment the overall completion of a team. In the case of Brad Richards, that smart acquisition may finally have been made after so many inconsequential imports before him. And all together now, these Broadway Softies are a pretty damn good bunch.
How can you not be happy as a Ranger fan right now? Well..., there's one way to prevent that - turn the conversation towards Glen Sather. I can't even begin to express my relief about the rumor the Rangers were considering trading for Anaheim's Bobby Ryan have remained just that; trade rumors, and getting more quiet by the day. When I started hearing about a two-for-one, involving a combination of Brandon Dubinsky; Michael Del Zotto; Derek Stepan; or Michael Sauer; I damn nearly crashed my car! I'm not sure what really squashed the speculated deal; whether it was the hiring of new Ducks' coach; Bruce Boudreau; and him slamming on the brakes, or if THIS organization had a sudden epiphany just in time to think better of it. Either way, I hope that rumor goes away.
I still hold firm to my notion we are in the position we are in because of John Tortorella, and what I believe is the influence he exerts on Glen Sather; and interestingly, not the other way around. In typical Tortorella style, he's been a real hard-ass about this rebuilding effort, and all I can say about that is - Thank God; a god; any god... but thank something omniscient because Glen Sather is never going away and it will take a miracle to get Jimmy Dolan to ever fire him. Because lets be honest, the only reason Glen Sather reinvested this organization's efforts into the draft is because of the salary cap he's now forced to operate under ever since the Lock-Out.
The methodical building of this team from the ground up is starting to pay big dividends. But if Sather truly had his way, all these kids would be gone. I'm not saying the Blueshirts are Stanley Cup material right at this minute. Who knows...maybe we are. But what I am saying is that the plan is working. Don't get fidgety now.
We must remain vigilant and always......Beware the Sather!
Update - 6:00 p.m.
Michael Sauer will not play tonight due to concussion symptoms resulting from a hit sustained in the Rangers' last game versus Toronto.
Tampa Bay Lightning
THE BROADWAY SOFTIES
Seventh Avenue at 33rd Street