Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Well folks, after a 7-1-0 start the New York Rangers are now a .500 hockey club. With a 5-2 loss at home to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, the Blueshirts record now stands are a very average 13-13-1. How could this happen?
When this year’s version of the New York Rangers broke camp there was much anticipation and excitement with new additions and youth being injected into the lineup. I, for one, have to admit that I was drinking the Kool-Aid- big time! Why wouldn’t I? It was obvious to me that the talent level had been increased over the past few years. For anyone to not see that, well… that would be moronic! However, what has unfolded since then has Rangers fans, Rangers brass, and me scratching all of our collective heads. I think we can all point fingers at certain weaknesses that the Rangers have (and there are many). However, I truly believe that 2 areas have hurt this team the most.
First, when you don’t score goals on a consistent basis, you have to be able to tighten things up play-wise to be successful. By that I mean you have to play tough, grind-it-out, physical hockey. Oh yeah, smart hockey would help too! Every shift in a hockey game there’s a right move and a wrong move to make. It’s that simple. You, as a player, have a choice to make and the move that you make can either help or hurt the team. Right now the wrong moves are being made more often than the right ones. That comes down to just being intelligent enough to understand the game. Right now, that’s not happening for the Rangers. No excuses.
Secondly, the players themselves have lots of blame to take. We can argue back and forth about who’s a first liner or who’s a fourth liner (which is a common gripe by Rangers fans), that’s all fine and dandy. However, the real problem is a pattern of under-performing that continues to haunt the Rangers. Too many players have simply not lived up to their expectations and billings. It’s one thing to talk about effort and intangibles, but the reality is that stuff is just a way of sugarcoating the under performance or underachieving of a player. Outside of Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal up front- can anyone really look in the mirror and say to themselves that they have played to their potential? The same goes for the backline. Taking the rookies out of the argument, of course. Can even the "King" himself say that he’s played up to his potential? I think not. It doesn’t matter what style of play you are asked to master (Tortorella’s or Renney’s). You, as a player, must execute and that my friends is what it all comes down to! The Rangers have simply not been able to execute, play smart, or play tough/physical defensive hockey when called upon. I could go on about other problems, but these to me are the biggest ones!
Now, in other NHL news… I see that Alex Ovechkin has done it again. More reckless play and dirty hockey. Last night he issued a knee-on-knee collision with Carolina Hurricanes player, Tim Gleason. I’ve said in the past that Ovechkin’s the best individual skilled player in the NHL- there’s no doubt! I’ve also said that he’s right at the top when it comes to cheap shots and dirty play. You think Colin Campbell will finally place Ovechkin here he belongs in the “repeat offender” category? Or will the NHL continue to cover their eyes and continue to allow his actions to be non-issues? Show some guts and do the right thing here NHL!
Lastly, the Quinnipiac Bobcats are now ranked number 4 in the nation after a great come from behind overtime victory against the U-Mass Minutemen. Next on the schedule for the Bobcats are battles with Yale and Brown this upcoming Friday and Saturday. Keep it rolling boys!