RANGERS ESCAPE FROM TORONTO WITH CONSOLATION POINT
The Rangers seemed to be continuing their streak as they started the game fast scoring on a goal from Hartford promotion, PA. Parenteau. At first the call ups of Parenteau for the injured the Callahan, and Erikson for the scratched Gilroy, (reinsertion of the Voros plug for the revolving door on the 4th line) didn't seem to be having adverse effects on the effort.
Get the official recap here.
Tensions were high from the beginning of the game as Avery , made his rounds in the pregame warm-ups, Taking verbal jabs Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuff and forward, Phil Kessel. The Rangers would eventually make it a 2 nothing game. By all accounts, the Rangers didn't play as hard as they could have and were lucky to have the lead going into the second period. However, the lead would be shortened at the beginning of the second period as 'lazy back checking' led to a goal for the Leafs. Sitting at the bottom of the East, Toronto relished their role as a spoiler in this game and used their hard playing style to send wave after wave of mixed bag talent at the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist.
The game would sit at 2-1 in the Blueshirts favor for a while, but anyone watching the game could see that the Leaf tenacity would eventually wear down a thin ice skating Rangers team by the end of the game. And it did, as eventually the Leaves would catch up on a Rangers team that scrambled back in desperation to thwart rushes, but didn't always have enough discipline to have someone pick up the extra man or support their goalie on their second chance opportunities. This game was symbolic of the Ranger's struggle thus far this season... as they got outplayed down the stretch by a team lower in standing but higher in attitude. The "nothing to lose and everything to gain" mentality played by the opposition, exposes a missing element in the Rangers personality. The Rangers would lose another part of their personality as Sean Avery, on a race for a loose puck with a Leaf player, would go into the end-boards a little awkwardly and wind up limping to the locker room - not to return.
This could have been a big opportunity for an Aaron Voros/Brandon Prust/ Jody Shelley player to pick up the slack and make a strong case for keeping them around next season. Though a player like Prust has had a strong showing thus far (in my opinion), it's a situation that part of the downward spiral the team has been on after a fast start at the beginning of the season. The attitude of this team has dampened many a players heart with the questions of where they fit in; handicapped a coach with its lack of depth(besides at 3rd and 4th line so-so players) and fire; depressed fans that pay through the nose to witness such inferior efforts and disgusted old timers with its lack of proper respect for its 'Original Six' uniform. A player like Prust should have been called on to do his best Sean Avery impersonation, as soon as the Grate One limped away. With the teams Moxy already waning, there should have been some stop gap measure improvised on the spot to fortify the Blueshirt resistance to the rising tides of the Toronto high energy, low skill offense. Instead the Rangers scrambled to keep up and failed to realize that even though the two-goal lead is said to be the most dangerous in hockey, its also sometimes the opportunity to realize that sometimes.. just sometimes, the difference between winning and losing is just having the discipline to finish the race. With the game tied and going into OT, the importance of both points seemed to become an afterthought.
With Boston winning their game yesterday and leaving us further behind them; Philly dropping back and Atlanta inserting itself somewhere in the mix, its conceivable that the post season chances of the Rangers hinges on those final two games of the season. Lets hope it's realized in the Ranger locker-room before it is at Tee off time on the first green, this summer.
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