Saturday, May 12, 2012

N.Y. Rangers ~ Excuse Me While I Slap This Puck



NEW YORK RANGERS:  Nothing Like a Pre-Game Rant to Piss Everybody Off.  Find Me Something to Hit!

The only one's who seem to have a problem with John Tortorella are the Media.  Because you'll get nary a complaint from the Rangers or their fans.  And I'm making sure to say this before Game Seven. 

Damn Media (unfortunately for the more responsible ones) are more interested in catching the prickly coach in a verbal misstep than they are in reporting the damn game.  Ponderous!  What is it they do not understand?  Coach Torts is not going to single out any players, good or bad.  And he's not going to let the media second guess him, or play coach regarding decisions of the bench and ice.  He's made that very simple and clear.  And I applaud him for it.  If John Tortorella lashes out at a member of the media, it is because they foolishly persisted after being warned not to.  So, ignorant is, as ignorant does.

And to suggest his behavior towards the Media is harmful to the team, and that John Tortorella is orchestrating his own personal post-season demise, again, by acting-out in such a manner, is again, utter folly.  The media's real and only problem exists with John Tortorella's ability to make their jobs more difficult.  Not the other way around.  And it's damn near brilliant.  The good ones know exactly how to write a story around Torts and still have it apply it to hockey as well.

Torts molded this team, and continues to mold a formidable team.  But that's where everyone gets lost.  The Rangers are still a (re)building team.  And just because we are about to embark on Game Seven of the semis, does not mean we should all of a sudden, let our plan, patience, and perceptions skid off the road.  For if indeed experts and idiots alike chose to label this season and this team a failure should the Rangers lose Saturday, then they are indeed dolts of their trade.  That kind of thinking is akin to driving for two-hundred miles, and taking every caution to get home safely.  Then, with home in sight and one last turn into the driveway to be made, you purposely drive into the mailbox.  It's Stupid!

"What, did you go to college to get stupid?"  -  Quote,  Santino Corleone.

All of a sudden, the Northeastern Establishment is an authority on Chris Kreider and feels entitled to demand Coach Tortorella use him a certain way?  See?  That is total folly, because before going there, perhaps someone should have thought better of the fact that not one person has spent any kind of time reminding everyone how this team misses Brandon Dubinsky in the worst way.  As a matter of fact, the beloved Captain, Ryan Callahan, is a vastly fairer target than the Head Coach is right now.  So let's go there, right now.

It is incumbent upon the four forward lines of the New York Rangers to win Game Seven against Washington tonight, not Henrik Lundqvist - another Media target of late.  At least not in the manner in which the world is throwing this game all on the goalie's shoulders.  The real issue is between Braden Holtby, the Rangers forward lines, and our ability to score on the Power Play, not between Henrik Lundqvist and his lot in life - or his LEGACY!

I am no apologist for anyone.  I am not without firm expectations for this team.  I expect the Rangers to win tonight.  But to say Henrik must pitch a shut-out, or that Henrik is not allowed to lose this game 2-1, is once again, pure folly.  Is a superlative effort needed?  Perhaps.  Should a loss warrant a lambasting of the goalie?  No.  Do we need our Liege to be damn near perfect tonight?  Yes.  Do I have the same expectations as those who are putting Henrik's pads to the fire?  Yes.  But when this is all said and done, if the Rangers should come up short tonight, and let's even imagine losing 4-3 in Game Seven, to dump on Henrik Lundqvist afterwards would be flat out wrong.

I expect Henrik to be exceptional tonight.  And I expect the Defense to play it close to the vest in Game Seven as well.  To over-commit the blue liners in an effort to create more offense, like we have at times this series, wreaks of panic.  If we win tonight, it will come via Blueshirt style hockey.  Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals was won on goals by Marc Staal and Dan Girardi.  While in the context of things, that's great.  But that can not be the case tonight.  This game must be won with a forward line effort.

There are twelve forwards who's charge it is, to propel the Rangers to victory tonight.  Should the Rangers lose tonight, I will look to blame one of them.  And for a very fleeting moment, I will do just that, blame some form of deficiency about this team that will need to be addressed in the off season.  But at no time however will I brand any part of the 2011-2012 regular, or post-season, a failure, nor look to indict anybody; to include Rangers Fans' chief nemesis, Glen Sather.  For this season was supposed to be a discovery of sorts, on where we stood.  Sometimes what you have in hand is good enough to win a Cup.  But you won't know that until you do.  In the mean time, this organization is, and was right to keep their eyes focused on the plan, and not over-react to the trade deadline, where conversely, the Media is now currently over-reacting to New York Rangers hockey.

This team did nothing at the trade deadline because we are not where we want to be yet.  I will say again, this is still a rebuilding team.  The Rangers are a young team that adopted a style, and a mindset - which put it's head down in October and picked it back up again in April to find themselves the number one team in the Eastern Conference.

That's exactly what John Tortorella has been saying all along.  It's everyone else who wants to complicate, and convolve what happened this season, and where this grind has gotten us.  The goal was to get a good seed and get some home ice advantage in the playoffs.  And here we are - Game Seven inside Madison Square Garden.  The winner of this game will play the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference championship round.

This is exactly why John Tortorella refused to get on the Media roller coaster after we clinched the Atlantic Division, the Eastern Conference regular season title, the number one seed, and the series against Ottawa.  Because he was still trying to get his team to tonight, while they all wanted the Coach every which way but firm in his convictions.

There are some who would argue the Rangers' inability to score goals this series can indirectly be attributed to the organization's reluctance to act during the trade deadline.  While I say, we are better for it.  The fact of the matter is, I still have supreme confidence the Rangers will win Saturday night.  But for the media to take a machete to the Rangers season should they lose, would be an unlearned act of journalistic idiocy, not to mention an uncommon lack of knowledge in the game of hockey.  Maybe if I heard them discuss Hockey more than four times this Spring while prefacing everything they say with -  "I don't really follow hockey, but..."  -  I might feel differently.

It is easy to speak of hockey using universally broad common generalities.  But it is hard to stick to, and be guided by principles.  It's even harder for most in the local media to cover hockey.  It's even harder for me to listen.

And what's more, there are absolutely no similarities to this team and the team that won a Stanley Cup eighteen years ago.  Neil Smith traded most of his youth, and mortgaged the Rangers' future in a sell-out effort to win a Stanley Cup with a bunch of former Edmonton Oilers and a band of mercenaries.  It worked.  But it has taken this organization eighteen years to play themselves into a position where they lie a game away from the Conference championship round again.

Short-sighted minds would have sold-out again, if it meant "guaranteeing" a win tonight.  We've done that already.  Temper yourselves.  A loss tonight does not halt the process which is currently building a formidable team which should last for years to come.  Lest we wait another eighteen years.

In the 1978- 1979 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Ron Greschner scored a game winning goal against the New York Islanders which eliminated Long Island from the playoffs and propelled us towards a Stanley Cup encounter against the Montreal Canadiens.  The Rangers lost to Montreal, as the Islanders then went on to win four Cups in a row.  In 1986, A band of Smurfs lost in the Conference championship round.  The club then undertook a rebuilding process and applied themselves in the draft.  Those efforts paid off in the early '90's.  We fans, Neil Smith and Mike Keenan all sold our souls to the devils that year for a Cup.  We traded away our future willingly.

Not this time.  After years of assembling the worse hockey team money could buy, John Tortorella came here demanding that Glen Sather do this the right way.  It's been working.  And if the Rangers ever deviated from this plan, I expect John Tortorella to quit.  That's what the Media doesn't get.

Do they even realize Don Maloney is not only a former player for those '79-'86 era Rangers, but was a team executive in scouting who helped draft some of these Rangers, and now has a home grown Phoenix Coyotes team in the Western Conference finals as their General Manager?  Do they even know Glen Sather hired Gordie Clark to replace Maloney, who helped draft the rest of these young Rangers players?

Do they even know who George McPhee is?  I'll give this one to them.  He's also a Rangers alumni.  But do they know what else he does?  And how well he's done it?  Do they know that over the five seasons prior to Tortorella's arrival, Glen Sather made Rangers fans wish to high-heaven we had McPhee?

And what of the other local General Manager whose team already clinched their spot in the Eastern Conference championship?  He's taken his team to the Stanley Cup Finals four times since the Rangers last won theirs eighteen years ago.

We are at the precipice of a return to the Eastern Conference championship round because of John Tortorella, based on his dictates and directives upon two cores of young Blueshirts, and because of his influence, and the exertion of his will upon management.  He can be as curt as he wants to be.  Not a single fan seems to have a problem with it.


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