One thing I’ve learned in my years as a Rangers fan is that many of my peers are, shall we say passionate, about their team. This passion tends to lead many of my fellow Blue Shirt aficionados to overreact to everything from a hard-fought loss to a victory in a poorly played game. Come on, you know the comments and type of reaction I’m talking about. Sometimes all I can do is shake my head at some of the crazy things I hear or read during and after games.
While I understand that passion and exhibit it myself during games, I try to be more reserved when commenting on Facebook or Twitter. I also will take at least 12 hours following a game to write a blog. That way I am able to temper my excitement some following a big win and do the same after a bad beat. As such I am generally viewed by my peers as somewhat conservative and grounded with my opinions.
All that being said it was a tough week for Rangers fans and that includes me. It’s hard for any optimist to find much to like about the Rangers regulation loss to Montreal Tuesday and their SO loss to Ottawa on Thursday.
The Montreal game was, as Torts said following the contest, one of the worst hockey games ever played and it certainly couldn’t be called entertaining. I don’t mean any disrespect to Montreal as they were playing the back half of two in two and needed to play that type of game to grind out a win. The problem is the Rangers didn’t do nearly enough to win the game.
When you consider yourself a legitimate Stanley Cup contender you can’t put forth efforts like that against what should have been a tired Canadiens team playing on the road. The Canadiens are not a big team and if the Rangers had executed their game plan of being physical and forechecking, hammering the Habs’ defense, it could have been a much different outcome.
Instead they allowed the Habs to clog up the middle thus neutralizing the Rangers entry into the offensive zone and forecheck. The Rangers let Montreal dictate the pace of the game and it resulted in a 3 – 1 loss at home. That sort of performance has to be inexcusable.
Thursday, with a chance to redeem themselves and get back on a winning track, the Rangers squandered a late lead (that’s getting to be a bad habit of late) and went down in the shootout to an Ottawa club that has been ravaged by injuries. The Senators entered the contest minus three of their best offensive players (Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek) and would lose goalie Craig Anderson, who might be en route to a Vezina Trophy nomination, to injury early in the third period.
The Senators lineup included several rookies, Mika Zibanejad, Jakob Silfverberg, Derek Grant, Andre Benoit and David Dziurzynski to name a few, yet they were able to find a way to win a game against a superior team in terms of on-ice ability. In fact, a defenseman by the name of Eric Gryba played more than 22 minutes for the beat up Senators. Gryba sounds far more like the name of a character from Lord of the Rings than it does an NHL caliber defenseman.
Credit to the Senators for finding a way to come away with two points but the Rangers had no business losing that game. As a team with big aspirations and facing a club that’s roster was more AHL than NHL, the Rangers have got to bury Ottawa in that situation. Not winning is again, unacceptable.
As I write this on Saturday morning, the Rangers could make me, and many more Ranger fans feel better about their team by going out and winning an important game on the road in Montreal. But as of now with Rick Nash out, MDZ and Staal hurting and possibly set to miss tonight’s game and following two straight awful outings, it’s hard to feel too good about the Rangers right now. It’s time for this team to show they are indeed championship material and win a game perhaps they are expected to lose.
Milan Lucic – Ah, the reason Rick Nash is now on IR and due to miss his third straight contest. Like many of you I didn’t think too much about the play when it happened. Then I read Larry Brooks’ article on the hit and watched the replay. I’m sure we’ve all seen it by now. Bottom line is, while I’m fine with the body check it was the extra follow through with his forearm that crossed the line to me.
Here’s what Lucic himself had to say in his defense:
“I’m just trying to fore-check and do my job. I’m just trying to do what I get paid to do. I don’t hit dirty,” Lucic said. “I’ve had one [supplemental discipline] call about a hit in my six years so far. So you can criticize me if you want, but whatever. I’ve had dings where little guys have hit me too, but I was fortunate that I didn’t have to miss any time. If I targeted the head then the league would have been looking at it very closely. We’ve got our own team here and our own things to worry about.”
I can’t decide what pisses me off more; his flat out refusal to see the play for what it was or his nonchalance about a peer suffering a concussion. Comparing Nash’s head being rammed into the boards courtesy of Lucic’s forearm to “dings where little guys have hit me (Lucic) too” is complete BS. Did he really imply that his forearm shiver to the back of the head of Nash was the same as some little guy bumping into him? Lucic is 6’3” 228; that’s not exactly a little guy, is it?
Lucic also seems to forget his hit on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller last year. The league may not have suspended him and in essence implied the hit wasn’t “dirty,” but most of the rest of the hockey-watching world sure thought it was. Hey, I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket in my life (knock on wood); I guess that means I’ve never, ever sped while driving. As if I needed another reason to hate Boston.
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