From the desk of: RAISE GRESCHNER WITH THE GREATS
NEW YORK RANGERS: There's No Reply At All.
The San Jose Sharks utterly embarrassed the Rangers Tuesday night. I'll tell you right away, losing 9-2 isn't what irks me. Instead, Rick Nash received a first period elbow to the back of the head administered by San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart. No Rangers player so much as glanced Stuart's way. Nash wound up missing the last two periods with an increasing headache.
When Tomas Hertl, 19, scored his fourth goal of the night to give the Sharks an 8-2 lead, he did so with a reverse between the legs whatever shot. Some Ranger, a Ranger, any Ranger should have made that young kid think twice about ever doing that again, especially to their goalie, in this case, Marty Biron, and especially after Henrik got pulled from the game in the second period.
How much disrespect will this team allow? Is this the way we protect, support and defend our fellow players now? By turning a blind eye? The Rangers of two years ago would have been administering black eyes! Two years ago this team had toughness and identity. Last season Glen Sather began stripping it away. I said it last year - the Smurfs are back!
This needs repeating. Last February, within a seven game stretch, Boston's Milan Lucic boarded Rick Nash, Ottawa's Chris Neil viciously boarded Brad Richards, then Montreal's Max Pacioretty took yet another run at a Ranger, and boarded Ryan McDonagh. At no time did any Rangers player stick up for their team mate - Not one. No response. Shortly after those three incidents, the Canadiens crashed Marty Biron, which again, inspired no response from the Rangers.
I'll also say this again and again. Two season ago, after the Rangers defeated the Sharks in San Jose, Joe Thornton called the Blue Shirts the softest team he ever played. The Rangers then went on to lead the entire NHL in fighting majors. They didn't stop there. They also league in fighting within the first five minutes of a game! That's eerily around the same time Brad Stuart took his run last night at Rick Nash. That's right around the time physical teams want to be exerting their dominance - early. That's what you call setting the freakin tone and sending a message to your opponent that the Rangers aren't putting up with any crap.
Now crap is going to hit the fan because the NHL just received an even earlier invitation than last year, to take runs at Rangers players. New York's top three fighters of two seasons ago are gone. New York's top player, Rick Nash is down.