Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rangers Fall Short in 2010

I cannot recall watching a regular season game that was like the 7th game of the Stanley Cup Finals........until today's Rangers-Flyers regular season finale. Although they lost in a shootout and pulled our puds to the last shootout attempt their spirited effort over the last 10 games was surely un-Rangerlike.

Give Tortorella credit for getting them ready for the homestretch, they would faded a lot quicker with Renney at the helm. But I disagree with having Joikenen in the top three for the shootout. He really looked like he had no clue against an average goalie like Boucher. It's not like Tortorella had no other choice! I know Gaborik is not that successful in shootouts but I woiuld taken my chances with the leading goal and point getter on the team than send out the Scott Norwoodesque Olli Joikenen. In his post-game comments Tortorella quipped that he had "no regrets" by not putting Gaborik in there.

Granted, P.A. Parenteau took 2 bad penalties but he still got a key shootout goal to redeem himself and I do not blame Anisimov for trying to make a play shorthanded. You don't have the luxury of time to decide what you will do in that situation and judging how this rookie has played during the regular season and playoffs the Rangers have a future star two-way player in Arten Anisimov (+2 in 82 games).

I also question why Matt Gilroy was a healthy scratch the last ten games. He played 69 games and was even in plus minus. Certainly they could have used his offensive skills instead of playing Anders Eriksson exclusively down the stretch. Heading into overtime today the Rangers had a dismal 4-10 record. They were very cautious and did not aggressively go to the net for fear of giving up an odd-man rush. Gilroy would have added that good point shot in overtime and not sacrificed the forwards getting caught in deep. In the shootout both the Flyers and Rangers were 3-3 but the entire hockey universe would give Lundquist the edge but the Flyers have too many skilled players who can put the puck in the net.

But it was again another game where Lundquist stood on his head facing 46 shots with about 25 of them being excellent scoring chances. There is no argument as to why is he was voted the team MVP by the hockey writers who cover the Rangers. It will be fun to discuss the future of the team and what they really need to get to Mount Stanley again in upcoming blogs.

For now we are disappointed Ranger fans but as true hockey fans we will watch the playoffs. We all know that Washington and Pittsburgh will be heavily favored in the East and San Jose and Chicago in the West but my sleeper picks are Buffalo in the East and Los Angeles in the West. No true Ranger fan wants to see the Blackhawks or any other original six team win. The Hawks are one year away from 50 consecutive years without a Stanley and Cup and the closest team near the Rangers 54 year record drought. We also do not want to see Brodeur carrying the cup again. Although if he does so this time they will need sharpshooters at the top of the "Rock" or as I like to call it "Prison" during the parade in Newark. I guess it is better than the parking lot in the Meadowlands!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rangers Showing Signs of Life

There was a big convincing win against the Islanders follows by the most dramatic win of the year against the Devils. No doubt that Chris Drury scored the biggest goal of his Ranger career. He finally displayed the clutch performances that the Rangers were hoping for when they signed him to the big free agent contract a few years ago.

The O.T loss in Toronto last night was indeed a setback but more importantly there are two key injuries to Ryan Callahan and Sean Avery. But this game clearly radiates the talent the Rangers have in Hartford. I have been making this point from the beginning. The Rangers recalled P. A. Parenteau and he promptly scored the first goal of the game. Also, it appears that Brandon Dubinsky is finally evolving into a clutch player and leader on this team Don't forget that he missed almost 6 weeks with a broken finger.

The recent injuries that have led to the latest losing streak in Philly will be a tremendous benefit and incentive for the Rangers to believe they still have a shot.
Next up are the fading Islanders again in Uniondale. The Rangers have to be extremely careful to come out and take it to them right away. They cannot take any opponent for granted at this stage of the year. My prediction is that the Rangers will make it in.....but just barely!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Ship Be Sinking

In the immortal words of Michael Ray Richardson - The Ship Be Sinking. Tonight's ugly loss featured and ineffective Lundquist, a botched 5 on 3 for 1:17, Paul Kariya's 400th NHL goal and the ultimate disgrace of being 2 games under .500 at home!

Fellow Ranger fans, we need to face the hard truth that this is not a playoff team but rather a team in transition. Although it was not mean to be a rebuilding is! The chants of "Fire Sather" rang loud and true throughout the echoing Garden as the Blueshirts limped to another crunching loss.

As I have said before, in his own mind Sather does have a plan and the Cablevision CEO's cannot pull the plug on it now. This team should rebound next year and be markedly improved. If not then Sather will most definitely be fired.

Fortunately, the Rangers' current demise will free up more posts to discuss the real upcoming playoff battles.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Rangers are Fading

A Devastating Loss

Tonight's loss to the Canadiens was a crushing defeat. In a another "must win" game the Rangers played with little emotion or urgency as they continue to be on the outside looking in.

As a Ranger die-hard for over 35 years this is typical of the history associated with this franchise. There are many heart-wrenching examples of disappointment and despair. Thank goodness for 1994!

But I still believe Sather has a plan for winning even though he has made some terrible free agent signings (Redden) and trades (Higgins) the youngsters in this organization are the future and keys to winning the Cup again.

There is a lot written about how underachieving the Rangers have been but very little about how young this team is. Dubsinsky (to me the future Captain of the team), Callahan, Staal, Girardi are all in their early 20's and the lineup has future rookie stars such as Del Zotto, Gilroy and Anisimov.

This young core talent will need time to experience winning and losing and it is up to Sather to stay the course and not trade this group of young talent. Adding the right veteran experience will be the key to turn this team into a winner. This year Gaborick was the major addition.

In conclusion, even if the Rangers do not make the playoffs this year do not despair. That is not the big picture in creating a winning team for the future. In the near future this team will win!