Yes, I’m aware of how silly that sounds. It’s true the Rangers opponent tomorrow is a solid team, and is even fresh off a shootout win over the Islanders. But even then, “Nashville is coming to town,” just doesn’t do much in the fear department.
Either way, the Rangers know they have an opportunity to generate some momentum after “last night’s 4-2 win over the Devils”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061017/SPORTS01/610170357/1034/SPORTS, and the mood around the locker room this morning was buoyant—to the extent that you forget this was the same befuddled group that stumbled home from Buffalo. A popular refrain was last night was still one game. But given the team’s struggles over the previous week, it may have been worth more than that.
Anyway, a couple of quick thoughts:
—Brendan Shanahan missed practice with a nagging hip flexor, but there’s no concern about his availability for tomorrow. Put it another way: if he wasn’t 37 and leading the NHL with seven goals, the veteran would probably have been skating sprints with everyone else today.
It’s hardly breaking news to say Shanahan has been everything the Rangers could have hoped for when they signed him this off-season, and that includes everything from his scoring touch, to his defensive hustle, to his presence in the locker room.
Already there’s been some grumblings outside the team’s dressing room that Shanahan’s emergence might step on the toes of Jaromir Jagr, and the thought is not without merit: Shanahan has not only been the team’s best all-around player thus far, but he’s also been the guy many us go to first when looking for insight into the team.
That said, Shanahan’s already made a point of always deferring to Jagr, and the fact that he may talk to the media more is simply a reflection of him being a better quote. Within the team, the idea that the team’s chemistry might have been disrupted has been quickly dismissed; and if anything, many players say Shanahan—both on the ice and off—has been just the complement that Jagr has needed.
—Given a night’s sleep to cool off about last night’s officiating, Tom Renney was still visibly annoyed when talking about it today, with the most glaring offense in his eyes a third period interference call against Ryan Hollweg. To Renney and to many others, the frenetic pace with which Hollweg plays is the embodiment of everything the coach wants out of his team. And even if Hollweg is going to be targeted by referees, the coach has already made it clear he doesn’t want the player to change a thing about how he hustles.
“We’ll kill those penalties any day,” Renney said.