Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rangers Heading for Irrelevancy -- NY Isles 2 NYR 1

Charity begins at home and the Rangers' gift-giving continued in December as again they politely refused to take any points from a home game and let the visitors own the ice and skate away with a victory. This time, the upstart Islanders took their 2nd win on the season against the Blueshirts with a 2-1 victory. The score does not indicate the utter futility of the Rangers. During their past 2 home games, they have scored 3 goals (each with a man advantage) on 76 shots. They have not scored an even strength goal since the OT loss in Chicago back before Tiger Woods' closet was emptied of trollops.

You can find the official recap here. With this latest loss, the Leafs have caught the Rangers (14-16-3) in points at 31. ONLY CAROLINA HAS FEWER POINTS in the entire NHL. Just wanted to get your attention. Still, for the glass is 1/2 full readers, the Rangers are tied for 10th in the conference. Realists would point out that the Blueshirts would be dead last in the West.

After last night's disappointing 2-1 loss, Henrik Lundqvist said, "We all need to look in the mirror to see what we can do to help the team." Good advice but if I am Henrik Lundqvist, I resolve to fix the team by myself.

How? Before tonight's rematch with the Islanders in Uniondale, if I were the goalie, I walk into the locker room, step up on a stool and look at my teammates and simply say, "I am sorry. For whatever I said or did that make all of you hate me, I am sorry." Maybe bring some Swedish meatballs (an appropriate image for the team), and have a party or start a food fight.

At this point, the way the Rangers play, they must hate Henrik and are doing everything they can to break his spirit -- they don't score leaving him no margin of error and they don't protect him physically or metaphysically. How else do you account for their recent behavior on the ice?

Cirque-jerk. I went to a hockey game
and saw an audition for Wintuk. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

For example, Ales Kotalik, brought in to be a PP specialist, apparently likes to see Henrik work on stopping SHG breakaway attempts. Last night, surpassing his pitiful performance on the point the other night during a power play that led to a breakaway SHG, Ales tripped over the blue line and let Frans Nielsen in on a SHG breakway attempt that Henrik stopped. As Neilsen skated toward Henrik, I yelled from my seat while Ales lay prone on the ice "Kotalik must go."

Sean Avery has mastered the pass to opposing defensemen in his own zone on breakout plays. It cost the Rangers in Florida and almost cost them a goal last night. He even did himself better in the defensive end on goal to make the score 2-0 with 3:10 to go, by escorting Blake Comeau down the ice and refusing to take any action to clear the rebound of a Matt Moulson laser (what a sound it made off Lundqvist's pad) or take Comeau out of the play before the shot sizzled high into the net. The view must have been nice. Another late-period back-breaking goal for this allegedly well-conditioned team.

Ranger defensemen, apparently with an inability to see past their own zone's circles and wanting to continue honing their inability to clear the crease, gift wrap passes to their eager opponents waiting at the blue line so they can press the attack again. I won't bring up their inability to muscle anyone in front of the crease although Henrik has not been knocked down as frequently as earlier in the season.

Flop, flop, fizz, fizz, what a bore watching the
Rangers play is. The Captain goes down with his crew.

Moving to the offensive end, Christopher Higgins & Ryan Callahan -- how many open nets can these guys miss night after night. Apparently, we may never know. A gaping net appeared in front of Callahan after some nifty passing in the 2nd period, but Ryan shot the puck into the glass behind the goal. How many novenas to the goalie gods did Roloson light for that reprieve.

Enver Lisin did score with 59 seconds remaining (his first goal in a dozen games) to avoid the ignominy of the first Islander shutout at MSG since 1975. But that goal came after the Rangers pulled Henrik, so their futility of not scoring on even strength now exceeds 6 periods of play.

We don't need to say anything about the trio of underperforming vets -- Drury, Roszy & Redden. Even Gaborik and Prospal have contributed to the Rangers' tailspin thanks to their recent offensive slumps.

There were a couple of good things for viewing like Avery's fight with Islander goalie Dwayne Roloson (who played well and displayed a sharp glove hand). Avery entered Roloson's domain, Roloson objected by slashing Sean and Sean flipped Roloson over. Marty Brodeur should consider himself lucky since he is a bit more, girthful, and not as easily lifted. Avery was penalized but Roloson got hit with 4 minutes. Unfortunately, the ensuing Ranger PP was PPathetic.

Once again, the Rangers came out flat and apathetic. That feeling was contagious as the MSG crowd was not its usual raucous self for a rival game until Avery flapjacked Roloson. Again confronting so little physical and energy support, Henrik stood on his head as he stoned numerous Islander odd-man rushes throughout the game. But, again, if the team cannot score 3 goals (only once in the last 10 games), unless Henrik is pitching shutouts over and over, the team will not win.

With all the stories about the Rangers' play since their 7-1-1 start (now in the midst of a staggering 7-15-2 streak), everyone looks for answers -- lack of talent, flaws in the Tortorella system (whatever that might be), burdensome contracts for over-the-hill talent.

Reporters, fans and bloggers have started opining that the players are quitting on Tortorella. Give me a break. After Renney's departure only about a year ago (after the team quit on him), the idea that a bunch of players that have accomplished NOTHING as professional hockey players are "quitting" on anybody is the biggest joke in New York sports. Further, if they are rebelling against the coach or the system, then they should all be released, waived, sent to Hartford because they are dumping on the heart and soul of the team big-time -- their goalie and to me, that's unacceptable.

Let's face facts -- other than Gaborik and Prospal, there is no other forward who would be anything but a third line player on any elite team. Truth be told, these days, given the fact that the Rangers are heading for the cellar of the league, almost any other team can be considered elite except for the Hurricanes. Most Ranger players should be happy that they are employed anywhere.

Miscellany on my mind:
(1) With the holidays in full swing, preparation for the Winter Classic to be held in Boston on New Year's Day are proceeding. Here are a couple of pictures courtesy of (the company that sells all your private information to the U.S. government).

Rumors are that next year's game may be at Yankee Stadium with
the Rangers playing the Capitals. If trure, I am hoping for a Nor'easter so my
t.v. will only show snow.

Advice to Slats -- trade #21 to Boston or Philly so I can watch
Christopher Higgins shoot and bang one off the Green Monster

(2) Petr Prucha scored 2 goals and was the #1 star in the Coyotes 6-3 win over Toronto. Imagine that, the diminutive one outscoring the Rangers for a team with a gaudy 20-12 record. Meanwhile, Petr has 7 goals, which would make the third leading goal scorer on the Blueshirts. Here's a guy that can convert a shot. Good going Petr.

(3) No one asked me but I have some advice to any potential future Mrs. Tiger Woods. To curtail his prowling, short of castration, simply put him in a Rangers uniform as a forward. His scoring ability will disappear faster than TARP $$ into CEO pockets or cockroaches scattering when you turn on the kitchen light.

Let's see what happens tonight in the rematch in Uniondale.

---The Graying Mantis

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