Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Looking Forward and Watching Back! (UPDATED)

We are still digesting all of this.

Just as it is always responsible to attend to proper estate planning and a 'last testament and will' before you die, we at The Dark Ranger thought it was probably a good idea to look back and celebrate the 'life and times' of our dear Blueshirts - how we got here, how hard we worked to get here, what 'should be' for game 7 of the first playoff series. On the eleventh hour of our 2008-2009 fate or future, this site's contributors, The Graying Mantis, J_Undisputed and TDR are giving their benefit of the doubt while the New York Rangers enter the final match against the Washington Capitals.

Any thoughts about tonight?

THE DARK RANGER: Washingtons' Ovechkin, Semin and Green are out for blood tonight. Oh, and that goalie no one can pronounce. Call him Anti-Theodore. The Rangers had no comment regarding the 'series-decider', except that they are very scared. Coach John Tortorella vowed never to question Sean Avery's behavior again from this point forward and the gray-haired Caps Tortorella harasser promises not to spew more curse words than the coach already does to his own team.

THE GRAYING MANTIS: Sports is all about redemption. For Game 7, Henrik has the chance to show a national television audience why the Rangers are still playing while teams like Calgary, Montreal, San Jose and others have failed. He has the chance to bring the team into rarified air of the final 8. Others (namely the veterans) have the chance to show the rest of the NHL that they are not just ordinary -- Drury, Gomez and Naslund -- I am looking at you. Others, who are playing for new contracts -- Zherdev, Antropov, Morris -- it's time to show whether you are clutch. Youngsters -- we know your mettle. Just don't panic and continue to do what you do. Sean -- keep your stick down and put the damn puck in the net.

J_UNDISPUTED: The thought that we are lucky to be playing a game 7 is absolute hogwash. I have had to listen all series about how after our drop-off since the mid season, that we were lucky to be here. That after being up 3-1 and having a chance to still advance is more luck. If it were true, it would indicate to me our luck has run out and we're gonna have to win this one on heart, desire and discipline. Closing the show is a trademark of a true Stanley Cup contender. Tonight we find out if we want to be a contender or if Renney was right in coaching this team to be satisfied with a whiff of the postseason as pretenders.

How did you get here, and any thoughts?

THE DARK RANGER: It was fun digesting this season without a visible Captain Chris Drury rallying the troops. If I hear him say that he's going 'to put this one behind him and start fresh for the next one' ever again, I may need to wait out his contract. We knowwwwwwww........he really wants it BADDDDDDD.......and he is thinking too HARDDDDDDD......for f*ck sake, enough. With half of our hardest working rookies (Prucha, Dawes) gone and traded away, the current team has shown there is greatness in leading the team (thank you Ryan Callahan, "Dubie", Girardi & Staal). Our veterans should be only called 'the paid' - because leading the team to greatness isn't apparently spelled out in their contracts (you know who you are, ya swindling pretend hockey players). So if our dear Blueshirts have a massive stroke during the first period tonight or even if they pull out another miracle and win the series (which brings us to an even more agonizing series against Boston), none of this would have been made possible if it weren't for.....
Hank. Despite his poor play over the past two games (or even dreadful performance), Blueshirt goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist is the sole reason why the Rangers are in the first round. If we win tonight, he stole another game. Without him in goal, we are an average team -- not a terrible one -- just one without fire power, without a power play unit, without a STUD. That's it. Lundqvist in goal and our surprisingly terrific PP kill unit is what has made our team a winning one all season long. Until now....or maybe not. Who the hell knows?

J_UNDISPUTED: We got here (game 7 of the first round) like I got home once from a bachelor party. Stumbling through the back door on rubber legs, reaking of ill repute, with a casual smirk of irresponsibility. We led a charmed life the first few weeks of the season and while most of the league was in awe, Ranger fans watched cautiously, waiting for the bottom to fall out. Such is our legacy, and often our fate. After stewing in the rot of our own self-pity with our captains reassurance he wasn't about to lose any sleep or let a losing streak ruin his holiday, the team was overhauled and a new coach and a familiar face breathed new life into this team. A few more additions and a few more subtractions, the team faced the challenge ahead of them with nothing to lose. Scraping into the playoffs, the past was behind us till we inevitably regurgitated those midseason blunders while waiting for someone to hand us a clue. Accountably(?), we are at an impasse. The players were conditioned poorly by Renney to believe their fate was in his hands, their success at the mercy of his line combinations and ultra shifting of the 4th line for most of the season. They are in poor physical condition and too psychologically scarred to give a consistent effort that Torts demands from his team. All that explains the "just happy being nominated" attitude that causes us to waver from our new found diligence and settle for second place and a point for the regulation tie, when there isn't one anymore. Suck it up you bunch of pansies! Noone just hands you the Stanley Cup because they feel sorry for you (unless your name is is Crosby or Ovechkin and even they have to make it look believable).

What does your gut tell you?

THE DARK RANGER: As a huge Rangers fan, there is no mid-range of emotions with this current team. They play a game of brilliance. They play a game of amateur-hour. We never know which team we're going to get night-from-night. It doesn't matter the team we play or where we are in the standings and/or how important the game really is. I would never wager money on this team, because ultimately you will be disappointed every time. I promise. So if you are looking at the stats and the fact that when the Caps should have disintegrated the moral and momentum of our Rangers over the last couple of games, look again because they might just surprise you in the end.

With that, a hearty "Let's Go Rangers!"

THE GRAYING MANTIS: It may be a long night. I expect a tight game because the refs are going to keep it close. The Rangers cannot afford to take any stupid penalties. The key to the game (as the series) is to score first. When the Rangers tied it up so quickly in Game 6, there was the possibility of that pattern being broken, but that hope was immediately dashed by Betts' being assaulted. The Rangers need to remember they are evenly matched against these guys. This is the matchup the Caps did not want. The Bruins thank their lucky stars they were not playing the Blueshirts.

I honestly believe one of the vets will come through in the scoring column but victory will be won by the youngsters.

J_UNDISPUTED: My gut says we can still do this. If we come out and forget about all the crap that happened last game and play a hard game all night with lots of skating, we can draw penalties and spook the caps into sitting back and playing cautiously. For all the scoring and the leg humping Ovechkin and co. do after a goal, its easy to see they don't have the maturity to go all the way...so lets exploit some of those greenhorn mistakes and send em packing. If we don't, most assuredly, Boston will. It's to easy to see how we frustrated Washington and our game plan is too easy to replicate... making it an easy series for the B's. So i say why not do it first. Some will say it all rests with Hank. Hank feeds off the team and if he feels like he has to do it all by himself, he usually comes undone sooner or later. With our best penalty killing forward out from a goon delivered cheap shot. Its imperative that stay out of the box tonight. I think we can pull it all together for one night and give the Capitals immature team, enough rope to hang itself with. Lets Go Rangers!

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