Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And the Winner by a nose...

It appeared the rivalry spirit crept back into the rangers locker room. A response to the dreadful performance against the devils or reflection of the fact that we were playing a weaker team than a few nights ago. No matter, it was a regulation win and one the players don't mind taking.

After a 1st period in which both team showed some resiliency in spite of some loose play, there were some physical play punctuated by the Colton Orr/ Mitch Fritz (both connecting with some big shots and Fritz receiving some consolation embroidery over his right eye) and the Comrie/ Dawes scuffle. The Dawes bout was started by Comrie after a hard check by Dawes along the boards, dropped an islanders forward (Okposo) to a knee. Note: good show by Comrie in waiting for Dawes to get his gloves and good show by Dawes in manning up and answering the call after the check.

After a tough goal off of a forced turnover which saw us out muscled in our zone as Dimitri Kalinen was checked into Drury and a linesmen as he coughed up the puck, the Isles converted for the first deflating goal of the evening., The rangers would have to wait till the second before they could answer on a Scott Gomez goal. At the end of the second, with 12 seconds left to go, the Rangers would find themselves behind again.

In the third, Petr Prucha once again proved that after being benched for near 10 game stretches, he can be the spark for the rangers needed and the nick that started the bleeding for the islanders. As the isles put on a brave face and tried to keep up, it became apparent that their goalie seemed to be coming undone amongst the fray buzzing around the crease as the blueshirts started to pile on the goals.

Official Recap Here

It was exciting to see the offense start to gain confidence. It appeared as the hockey gods finally smiled upon us and almost anything was starting to go in; A big difference from our blood from a stone approach through many of the games this season. However, not to get ahead of ourselves, its impossible for me to ignore some of the facts that were apparent before, during and after our charge toward victory in the 3rd period. We were trailing in the first two periods to the team with the worst record in the league prior to their goalie turning back into a pumpkin as the clock struck midnight (the start of the 3rd period, anyway). This appears to be status quo for the isles, as the announcers kept repeating they're a -25 or so in 3rd periods this season. So was our goal scoring display as hopeful as indicative and hope inspiring as we would like to believe or just conveniently well timed in last nights game? After going up by two goals, we went back into our shell and crawled back in the Tom Renney fetal position and waited for the final buzzer that allowed the Isles to score a goal in the final minute to pull within 1. Thank god we had an insurance goal and only a few seconds to run off on the clock. While we won the period by a wider margin, we only eeked out a win for the game.

The post game comments by Gomez ... " right now, two points is two points and it stopped the bleeding.." hardly leaves me with the impression that the team is licking their chops at the thought of avenging their embarrasing comeback loss at the hands of Ovechkin and the Capitals. I guess we'll find out on Saturday. Till then Ranger fans, a safe and happy holiday to you and yours, enjoy the winter classic and see how many times we have to hear the name or see the face of Sidney "C*cknocker" Crosby in a game he isn't even playing in. We'll compare totals in the new year.

- J_Undisputed

Monday, December 29, 2008

Backs to the wall...

Any of us that was expecting the type of cross river rivalry game that would see us come out an take charge early looking for revenge was in for a shock as, the Rangers got off to a poor start by taking a Too many men penalty, before the game had much of a chance to get under way. While the devils couldn't capitalize on that powerplay, it didn't take them long go up 2-0 thanks to careless play and uncoordinated defense. This would turn out to be the theme of the night for the blueshirts as we made a previously offensively challenged team look like defending Stanley cup champions.

However, if anyone was looking for bright spots, they needn't look any further than the two players closest to Hartford reassignment in Lauri Koprikoski and Corey Potter. Korpikoski single handedly killed off precious seconds of a Devils Power play by hustling, taking possession of the puck and playing keep away in the devils end. This drew a resounding applause just shy of a standing ovation from the crowd at the garden. Corey Potter didn't do too badly for himself, earning a key assist on the night. On a routine play, Potter succeeded where many of ranger defensemen failed in contributing to the offense by making a simple quick touch pass to a teammate willing to shoot without hesitation (Kalinen).

Even with the goals by Nigel Dawes and Kalinen, the rangers were still made to look amateurish by a New Jersey team that spent most of the night teeing up big shots through the slot as our defense failed to provide cover and our forwards arrived late on the back check, never finding the open man and contesting any of the shots.

Official Recap Here.

I used to attend about 20-25 games a season. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time or funds to attend many games this season, but it didn't take long into Saturday night's game to confirm what I suspected in my last post. The "ho-hum, we'll get em next time" attitude has seeped into the stands where the very spirit of the Rangers live... The fans. It used to be that it was impossible for a player to make a mistake on the ice without hearing the disapproval of the crowd for the rest of the night. While there are still many of us that can't contain our profane outbursts, it appears that much of the garden crowd has grown somewhat used to the gaffes, preferring instead to reserve their energy for the times when we (by effort or good luck) are bailed out of the precarious situations we skate into or create for ourselves. Every clearing receives cheers similar to the ones reserved at one time for when Brian Leetch went end to end and carrying the puck through the entire opposing team and their goalie. More disturbing were the visiting devil fans that cheered as loudly as they could when their team scored and giving rangers fans that frequent the prudential center, a taste of our own medicine.

Where does it end? I guess that all depends on when the players, the fans and the organization decides we've had enough. I think many of us have already reached that point. The coach however, seems content to blame the players and not himself. “I can tell you I’m not happy with how our team played. I’m not happy with performance from some very key members of our hockey club, who need to be better,” Renney said. “They need to step up and start taking charge of this hockey club and start playing the way they can. If we do that, we won’t have to worry about making personnel changes. We’ll strengthen ourselves internally by how we choose to play. Nobody has to worry about their jobs at all. Show up. Play hard. Compete. Battle. Want it bad enough. Have some urgency in your game.”

Clearly, they have been holding him back and lacking in putting his perfect plans into action.

- J_Undisputed

Friday, December 26, 2008

I won't even get into the Washington comeback game. Its already been recapped by the highly exalted Dark Ranger and its just too painful even for me to think about. Instead this rant, will focus on how Renney's non chalant attitude has bled down to the players and seems to be oozing from every pore of this team. From the assistant coaches to everyone shy of the stick boy. (Good thing we got rid of all those ice girls, they'd probably skate onto the ice wearing fuzzy slippers and curlers -- with a bag of chips tucked under one arm and a gallon of ice creamed under the other. )

I think this attitude has finally gotten the better of the assistant coaches, players, and even the fans. Finally after the Washington game, I have even seen many of the most stern Renney supporters turn away in disgust. No this isn't an "I told you so" or anything like that because I truly believe every fan is entitled to their own opinion and an agreement on something negative shouldn't be the positive light that we used to guide ourselves. Unfortunately, that seems to be exactly the case with our beloved blueshirts. There is this illusion that because we've been scraping together OT and shootout points, that things are never as bad as they seem. That screwing up isn't so bad as long as you're in good company.

I was hoping someone would have found a way to say "screw this..." and lead the team out of dysfunction and on to victory by example so at least there's an alternative to Renney's stupid musings, non committal answers and 908,635,908,634,586 line changes that "just might work". Not only has it not happened, but instead the whole team adopted Renney's funk as their own and echo the insinuation that all is not lost because everyone got together, watched video and have come to realize and admit they play like uninspired bush league primadonnas.

I can respect Chris Drury attempt at providing some perspective with his consolation of the point they got out of the overtime loss. “That could be the point that gets us home-ice advantage. I’m certainly not going to let it ruin my Christmas and I don’t think anyone here is going to let it ruin their break, either....There are 24 others teams in this league who would be dying to have our record, with all the points we’ve accumulated over a tough schedule. It’s certainly not a good way to get a point. But it’s over and done with. It’s already in the garbage can as far as I’m concerned." At the same time it would be nice for the fans to know that someones getting as upset as we are... or at the very least, concerned.

Yes, as a matter of fact I would be happier with a team with half the talent twice the emotion, because lets be honest... Talent isn't exactly scoring us a ton of goals or playing a lot of defense now.

- J_Undisputed

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Cry...

Santa will not be delivering the goods for us Rangers fans this year, tonight's game against the Washington Caps came as no surprise as we dramatically lost to the Caps 4-5 in OT, after opening the third period with a three goal lead. Alexander Ovechkin scored two goals leading his Caps rallying four straight goals in regulation followed by the game winner in OT.

Official recap here.

We took a point, but hardly deserve it. Coach Tom Renney may feel differently and demonstrate the positives to take away from the game, but tonight's abomination stands as a game of precedent that the Rangers will be judged on for the remainder of the season. Eerily reminiscent to a similar loss against Montreal at the end of last season, this one hurt more because it was in front of the fans - the home crowd - and most importantly, the Dolans.

The only other time the Rangers lost at home after leading 4-0 was March 27, 1979.

The Dark Ranger had the pleasure of sitting with Rod Gilbert in section 118 (okay....two seats from)- our supportive leading New York Ranger All-Star hero, holding the NYR team record for career goals (406), team record for career points (1021) - who actually uttered the following phrases in no particular order when Washington decided to show NYR how to play hockey in the third period:

(Rod Gilbert mutterings throughout the third period):

"Uh oh"....

A defensive system works when you have defensemen to support it"...

"(shouting angrily) ...don't leave the center open!!!!".....

"...The Habs Game!".

"We've seen this before!"

Thanks Rod. The Dark Ranger couldn't have said it better myself. I am certain my blogger Blueshirt comrades will have plenty to say about Coach Tom Renney, Wade Redden, Rozsival, Khalinen and our horrible defensive system without defense, but tonight spoke louder than words.

Might I add for pain-sake, the words of Alexander Ovechkin post-game:
"They stopped playing hockey," a jubilant Ovechkin said. "They probably believed 4-0 they'd win the game. They tried to play conservative, but we play a different way. We play a hard, physical game and take lots of shots. You see the results."

As our fellow Atlantic Division rivals are building stronger and climbing in the ranks (i.e. Philadelphia and New Jersey in particular) the unforgivable Rangers loss to the Capitals tonight will demand accountability to the coaches, the players and reflect how the fans have been feeling all season long.

If nothing is addressed and dealt with swiftly and immediately, the season is over!...so with that, happy holidays and all that, as our boys are tonight getting a good 'ole fashioned management ass-whooping!


(thanks Rod)

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Over!

Cash is King!

Our own King Lundqvist attempted to persuade elite-player-free-agent Mats Sundin to be a Ranger for less money than the 20 million, two-year offer from Vancouver.

No luck this time around. He's a Canuck!

Mea Culpa. The Dark Ranger mis-called this one. We will continue to live with our terrifically bad power play and questionable leadership. BUT HEY......WE'RE IN FIRST PLACE (sigh)!!!!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Listen To The Pin Drop (ssshhh.......)

The Blueshirt blogosphere is quietly crossing all fingers and toes and reiterating over and over how 'you better be good for goodness sake'. Everyone is thinking and no one is writing. What is the big secret that everyone spoke of ad nauseum all summer and now afraid to jinx?

Mats Sundin.

My inner-Dark believes the former Toronto Maple Leaf Captain will be a Blueshirt by Friday of this week. Simple. My source (a.k.a. my brain) tells me this is a done deal and fellow Swedes Sjostrom, Lundqvist and once-rumored linemate Marcus Naslund all escorted Mats out of the Garden Saturday night - coming off another God da*n shootout victory - proving that the team is a contender missing and actually in need of the "Sundin factor." He would bring an improved power play unit, locker-room leadership and guts. Drop and/or trade Prucha & Co. to clear a couple more million and it leaves Mats a respectable salary for a half and post-season.

Though, there are hilarious comments and rumors of Sean Avery coming back to the Rangers (Sorry bro, we finally left your attitude with Dallas) --- bad timing for such rumors and unfortunate for Sean because the Rangers now need to clear and dump salary cap limit to bring in our only hope - the new Broadway Savior -- a guy who has never won a Cup. We'll take him over the instigator.

People...hear me out. This Sundin business is happening. It's real. When he signs, maybe I'll stop bitching. Or not.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

You Too! Can Own A Tom Renney Chemistry Set!

Rangers fans across the globe are asking Santa for their own chemistry set in the hopes they might have the right line-changing ingredients for Coach Tom Renney, as the once top-of-the-league New York Rangers continue to spiral downward in the standings.

As you all know (and this is like beating a dead horse over and over), our infamous Coach Tommy Boy over the past three seasons has NEVER found a line that worked, except for the inherited line of Nylander-Jagr-Straka post-lockout - which was soon destroyed by not re-signing any of them, as they dictated how the game would be played without his input. It worked. They won games. Not to suggest that this is the right path, I have always defended our coach in that he, or any coach for that matter, needs to lead and instill confidence in the players, not the other way around. So I agree that they all had to go, but.... The "Jagr stability line" was the last line that worked.

The very fact that our forwards Marcus Naslund, Scott Gomez, & Chris Drury - all All-Stars - and a handful of terrific hard-working newbies (Dubie, Callahan, Zherdev) cannot find the right chemistry to score goals is tragic. Our confidence is lost. Our delirious captain Drury is seeing the positives in getting shutout again, as opposed to motivating the locker room with fear of loss, is even more tragic. But when the players cannot get it together, they look to the coaching staff and this all comes down to the chemistry set of Tom Renney.

A rare victory against the Penguins gave us a front line of Naslund-Gomez-Zherdev and we saw results. The next game we didn't so Renney TORE UP THE LINE AND REVAMPED AGAIN.

This has been the story of the Rangers for years. Perhaps the Rangers won all their games in the beginning of the season and are now losing most of their games because other coaches on other teams have let the lines evolve and let the players grow accustomed to winning AND LOSING together on the same line....there are nuances in playing hockey, clues and hints to how you play with your fellow linemates - it's hockey-line evolution baby! Tom, we're in the relationship business here...not some experimental chemical orgy! For Christ's sake! The only non-moving parts on this team are your special teams coaching staff - who should have been removed many seasons ago.

More tragic is our blueline (Wade Redden and Rozsival are scary overpaid hooligans), but we all knew this going into the season.

So, soon The Dark Ranger will be calling for the removal of NYR Coach Tom Renney and the entire coaching staff as the decline is their fault! We've all had enough, the team has had enough and this display of coach narcissism is embarrassing for the history of the franchise. The economy is falling, the ticket prices are too high, the corporate seats are half-empty and unpaid and good hockey is all we might have left over the next couple of seasons.

If tonight yields an embarrassing loss to another losing team - the Atlanta Thrashers - I will officially call for our coach's head to be shipped back to Canada where a developing AHL team awaits.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Original 6

The Rangers come into Montreal flying high after shutting down the star studded duo of Crosby/Malkin in a game against a Pittsburgh team that meant business. Petr Prucha was the unlikely hero in that one, and even though the goal he scored in the 3rd period saved the game for the Rangers, the Garden faithful were loud as ever with "Boos". But, onto tonight's game for now, which should be one of the toughest games for the Rangers to date. Both elite teams in the Eastern Conference this season and over the past few years, Montreal is always a deadly threat, especially with past Ranger Alexei Kovalev as dangerous as anyone in the NHL with his stick handling around the net. Tonight Lundqvist should bounce back from a so-so game last night after shining in the shootout as always, but how many games will the Rangers have to pray that Their King will save those 3 shots in the shootout to win the game for them? Nevertheless, if Lundy shows up to play tonight along with fellow mates Naslund and Zherdev, we should be fine, right? Well just in case those players that are paid the big bucks to score don't show up or are simply smothered by the "Big Red" D of Montreal, perhaps the story book ending of Prucha can carry over, or maybe the plethora of sophmores including Dubinsky, Dawes and Callahan can chip in with offense the way that we the fans know that they can. Look out for a very chippy and physical game with a lot of shots, as both of these teams very talented up front, in the back and side to side. Hopefully the Blueshirts will silent the tremendous groans coming from the fans in Montreal tonight and we can move on to 40 points at the beginning of December! Wowzer.

Go Blue...
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