From the desk of: RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS
NEW YORK RANGERS: If The Loss To Colorado Was Bad, This Latest Loss Against The Second Division Ottawa Senators Was Worse.
Four Eastern Conference teams have now clinched a Stanley Cup playoff berth. Four others have yet to ensure their place in the Spring ice tourney.
Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers failed to gain one point required to clinch a playoff berth, although, with three games left, qualifying is not a doubt. What the Rangers did get, was a beating, at the hands of Chris Neil, and the Ottawa Senators. Their ability to stay upright, and defend themselves against the tougher teams that will be involved in the playoffs, however, IS in doubt.
I expect nothing less of Chris Neil, who at one point, skated cross ice, targeted Marc Staal, and crushed him headlong into the boards near the Rangers blue line. It was good to see Mats Zuccarello stick up for Staal, by quickly putting Neil down in the corner. But when Neil went back after Zuccs, Marc Staal reengaged, and wound up falling under Neil, and endured a few punches. Then of course, the greater surrounding scrum needed to be dispersed.
The Rangers general response to Ottawa's game long physicality was feisty at best, yet minimal.
But, what can I say? The Rangers were already minus their top defenseman because of the run taken against Ryan McDonagh. This was his 2nd straight missed game. The last thing the Rangers can afford, is a similar run against Marc Staal, or even Dan Girardi. But, there you go. It happened. With Marc Staal's concussion history, I feel the Rangers dogged a bullet Saturday night.