Monday, March 31, 2008

The Playoffs Are Ours To Lose, NYR 1, Pittsburgh 3

It's a four team race for three slots -- The New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins are all tie with 91 points, respectively holding the final 6th, 7th and 8th (last) slot for the playoffs. Washington is sitting with 89 points and four wins, racing up the rankings. With one week left of the regular season - the Rangers have a game in hand over most of them, one of them will be left out of this game of musical chairs.

Official recap

Yesterday, the Rangers poorly lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins -- I wanted to say the 'red hot' Penguins, but that wasn't the case. Yes...they are on top of the standings. Yes...with Crosby, Hossa and Malkin in the lineup they are on fire. Yes...they are a perfect blend of rookie and veteran power. But...the Blueshirts contained them most of the game and this is the problem.

The first goal scored by Ranger's Brandon Dubinsky was followed by our famous Coach Tom Renney defensive system, the system where we allow the opposing team to abuse our goaltender - Henrik Lundqvist - who, by the way, made some marvelous stops. Our defense should never allow so much penetration into our zone - Michal Rozsival remembered to start playing defense half-way-through the third period and the defense in general was tragic from start to finish. Our forwards played stronger defense, which is part of the larger problem I see with how Tom Renney is running this team. (What else is new?)

There seemed a point in time in February when all defensive laws were broken and the Rangers went on a scoring spree every game, uninhibited playmaking over three periods. We let in more goals, but we became the power scoring team we were supposed to be in the pre-season. We once again need the first two lines to go straight into the net and look for the dirty goals - the Drury goals. It's all looking a little too pretty out there again -- they must be listening to Jagr once again. Crap.

Our perimeter power play is 'Punked' - no helping it. We scored 1 for 3 yesterday, a huge improvement over all of January, February and March, but we allowed double digit penalties and now have to rely on killing penalties to be competitive. If one were to consider what it will take to exceed and excel in the playoffs, our power play unit is the greatest obstacle. We might as well put Christian Backman, Colton Orr and Ryan Hollweg in the power play unit -- sounds outrageous, but ironically and sadly, it couldn't get any worse (I DON'T MEAN IT EITHER!)

Four more games - another Pittsburgh game tonight -- this time at MSG -- two against our bitter rival and non-playoff nemesis NY Islanders and our final eighth meeting against the NJ Devils next Sunday. That closes the season, folks. A strange season at that.

I keep thinking we're a 'shoe-in' for the post-season. Then I think the teams behind us keep winning games and we don't. Tonight is a deciding factor in all of this, so until then....


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