Anywhere but here


Because I’m a rally-killer by nature, prone to spoiling whatever positive vibe that might be circulating within a room, I felt it was important to greet the Rangers with a cold splash of reality.

So my conversation with a few of them today went something like this: “Welcome back and congratulations on a fine road trip. Now a question: why are you so bad at home?”

OK, so maybe those weren’t the precise words used (I’m a rally-killer, but a tactful rally-killer), but it merits mentioning that the Rangers, for all that was accomplished on their western sojourn, now return to a place where they’ve won a meager two of their first six games. Is it the lighting? The music? Al Trautwig?

Actually, it’s you. OK, not YOU necessarily, but the Garden crowd as a whole that has expected great things thus far from their beloved team, but has yet to see them. It’s only natural. Maybe because they want to impress so badly at home, the players say they haven’t been as patient as they have been elsewhere. Moreover, the team’s captain said the fans’ constant cries for players to shoot haven’t fallen on deaf ears.

“It’s tough to say. You have to win some games at home. That’s the whole key,” Jaromir Jagr said. “But you have to show the fans that the patient game is effective, too. I understand that they want to see some goals, but I think on the road we’re more patient with the puck. If we didn’t see anything with the puck, we didn’t press.”

Naturally this becomes even more of a premium given that the Rangers face probably the best team in the NHL right now, the Buffalo Sabres, at the Garden tomorrow. Yes, that’s the same team that blitzed them 7-4 last month in Buffalo. But one would think the Rangers are a more cohesive team now than they were then.

Now if only they can find a neutral site…

A couple of other stray thoughts:

  • In the oh-please-anyone-but-him department, Brendan Shanahan sat out practice with a sore lower back. But Tom Renney said it was likely the result of a long flight, and he’ll be good to go tomorrow.
  • The coach woudn’t say which way he’s leaning for tomorrow’s goalie, and that’s telling in itself. One would think Henrik Lundqvist would be a foregone conclusion having sat the last two games, but that’s how well Kevin Weekes played in his stead. Still, don’t read too much into it. It probably doesn’t do either player any good to announce the starter a day in advance, if only because it would be a slight to either player. My guess is Lundqvist is a go.

    Until then…

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    1. Just a technical question :

      Is it possible to sign up to be informed via e-mail about any new entry ?

    2. While I completely understand Jagr’s comments about feeling a lot of pressure playing at home, I’m never sure how to react when even an iota of blame for a team’s preformance falls on the fans of that team. When everyone’s yelling “shoot!shoot!”, those are the games after which Renney is usually pointing out that it is not possible to pass the puck into the net. Doesn’t that happen everywhere? And even if it doesn’t, its not like we’re booing. We’re the best, possibly most knowledgeable and also possibly most rabid fan base in the NHL. Deal with it. What should we do, show up and be quiet and expect to lose? The players have to come to work and do their jobs. We couldn’t care less if it’s a 1-0 win or 7-0 win. We just want a win, and if we can’t get that, we just want the honest effort.

    3. I myself would start Weekes only because he looks like he is in the zone and lundquist doesn’t but than I’m not the coach, what the hell do i know. I’m just going by what i have seen so far between the two goaltenders. All i know is this situation was the other way around last year and because lundquist was the better goalie, he won the starts.

    4. I agree Peter! I cheer just as loudly on goal #1 as I do for goal #7. Last year the crowd cheered after a great shift, this year that has rarely happened. At least in the 2 losses ive seen at home.

      On the crowd yelling for the players too shoot, i’m guilty of that myself. Its very evident that most of the players on this team think pass before they think shoot!!! On the other hand in the 6-5 loss to the pitts, we had 40something shots on goal, and most of the crowd was still yelling to shoot!

    5. I agree that the MSG crowd is the best in the world, but it’s sad if the booing and jeers have led to our own players feeling more anxiety than excitement about playing at home. It certainly indicates a bit of mental fragility and, well, sissiness, on their part, but maybe the tough love doesn’t fly for those New Age-y Eastern Europeans…

      Regardless, it’s been good to see a glimpse of a quality team and let’s hope they can keep it up.

      I hope Weekes gets the start — if Henrik got two wins he’d keep playing. Achievement=ice time. Period.

    6. It doesn’t matter who’s in the net really, but I’d still like to think if Lundqvist was in net he would’ve gotten those two wins just as easily…. But if Jagr or anyone else on the team can say that their EFFORT has anything to do with the fans then they’re just making excuses… And I’m going to be crying B.S. on Jagrs shoulder too… He said he was good to go at the begining of the season, and now that he’s not putting em in the net as much as people expect him to or as much as he did last season, it’s all the sudden not 100 percent yet? Let me guess… once you get a two goal night you’ll announce it’s all better right? Gimme a break man… Faulkin play the game and quit the b.s. excuses to why the preformance isn’t there. I’ve NEVER heard of a home ice DISadvantage before…. esspecially at the garden

    7. I think at this point Renney should be going with the hot goaltender whether it’s Weekes of Lundqvist. Play the guy until he loses. Then play the other guy until he loses.

      Sam, your question of “why are you so bad at home” reminds me of what my sports journalism professor told us NOT to ask back when I was in college. “Do not ask ‘why did you suck so bad tonight?'”

    8. Wow, pretty harsh comments. I’m guessing everyone here has played in front of 18,000 people before. It seems like that because apparently having a group of several thousand people would have no effect on you.

      “What should we do, show up and be quiet and expect to lose? The players have to come to work and do their jobs. We couldn’t care less if it’s a 1-0 win or 7-0 win…”

      And what happens if its a loss? What you should do is show up and cheer your team, not boo them like a soreloser. I’m a proud Ranger fan and I always will be, no matter how bad they play. If you attended last seasons game 4 against the devils, then you’d understand. The entire place was going crazy for OUR team even though they were swept. You were probably to one killing yourself because they lost.

      And Rob, Jagr IS playing his game. He happens to be at the top of the NHL points list if you haven’t noticed. OH RIGHT, you’ve had shoulder surgery before so you know that you should be 100% in 5 months. Yeah sure it hurts when they lose, but there’s no reason to boo them. Why do you think Tom Poti always sucked? Because he wanted to? No, because when you have thousands of people booing you on a nightly basis, it gets to you. Now he’s an islander and he’s better than all but two of our defensemen. How bout you go be an Islander fan if you’re going to be a baby about Jagr and his shoulder.

    9. I really think it does matter who is in net. Henrik does not deserve to play right now. What does it say to Weekes that he beats two of the best teams in the west but he gets benched. Weekes should start IMO!

    10. Evgeni I noticed you left the last part of that quoted sentence off. Honest effort means a lot to the MSG crowd!!!

    11. Yeah Angie, exactly… I’m not bashing Jagrs effort. I’m well aware of the fact that he’s has more points then anyone else in the league… But I don’t want to hear about his shoulder, esspecailly since he said it was fine when he first came back…. Don’t make excuses is all I’m saying. I don’t boo loses, I boo bad performances. If they lost both of those games in Anahiem, I’d still be satisfied with their performance… they looked like they finally had their system figured out. But what’s their excuse for their performance in LA? Was it the pressure of Hollwegs family there, I didn’t hear boos for Malik there… So, no, I have no idea what it’s like to play in front of thousands…. but i guess thats why I don’t get paid millions to play hockey either. The honest answer is he should’ve said should’ve been something like, ‘yeah i’m not too sure what our problem was, we just weren’t able to find our game i guess, I don’t think we would’ve played differently in a different building. It looks like we’re on to something now though, lets see if we can build off of it’…

      And I’d hate to break it to ya… Poti still kinda blows… don’t let the stats fool ya

    12. I agree with Angie, I’d never boo a loss if the Rangers left it all out on the ice, but some of the games, FLA and NSH in particular, they looked like they weren’t giving it their all. Nobody boo’s like sorelosers because the other team is better, but they will boo when its obvious the effort isn’t there and we know in our hearts that they could have done better themselves.

    13. To put Lundqvist in against a team that is flying like the Sabres are is not a good thing for the Rangers. Weekes does deserve to start tomorrow.

    14. Anthony (Abev) on

      Hey Sam, just wanted to pass along something that I heard while out in LA. I am pretty sure it was on their version of our 1050 espn radio (i think they are 1150).

      Anywho, they were talking about blogging, and were marveling at the fact that the LA Times employs 4 writers for the Lakers. One exclusively for the print edition, One exclusively for the web edition, and two that blog during the games (and I think in between as well). It was a really interesting conversation, how they think that print editions could be gone in 10 years.

      I doubt the Ranger sell papers like the Lakers do, but interesting anyway. Maybe you are on the cutting edge :)

    15. Jonathan Probber on

      Sam – Nice piece on Effinger. I played hockey at Rye Country Day well before his era; sad that I missed him.

    16. From the beginning of the season Jagr has said that his shoulder is fine BUT what he has ALSO said is that he doesn’t have his full strength back. It is one thing for his shoulder to be 100% healed and not hurting him and it’s another thing to have his strength back when this athlete is used to working out during the summer and he had to basically do NO conditioning on the shoulder for 5 months so that it could 100% heal so as he plays these games he is getting his shoulder into condition and strong again …

      Also, Jagr was commenting on a diffilcult question and acknowledge that he is sure that every team that plays at home hears that too so I do not think that he or any other Rangers will ever use the excuse that it’s the home fans fault that they aren’t playing well …

      Now I will be VERY disappointed in the fans tomorrow if they boo Ozolinsh because regardless of how disastrous the end of his season was with us last season he has not been one of the defensive problems and him along with Rachunek have been our steadiest pair on D the past two games … now if he or Rachunek mess up? Fair game, but I hope that he doesn’t start off getting booed like in Game 3 of the Devils series, if Renney plays him at home tomorrow..which he should because Ozo has earned it …

      As far as who should start .. Henrik or Weekes … I don’t believe it matters, but Weekes has earned the start at home, where you know that Henrik will play the majority of the games and since it was Weekes who got blitzed in Buffalo the last time then he should be given the chance to get the win against that team … although perhaps Henrik is ready to get back on track? Who knows … I have no problem with who starts and I do not think it is a sign of who the coach has confidence in as I believe that the coach has confidence in BOTH guys, it’s more important that they have confidence in themselves …

    17. Dear Mr Glen Sather,

      Trade Jagr for a draft pick now.Don’t wait. He’s tired of playing at the Garden. Jagr is saying it. Not us. So get something for him now before he demands a trade like he has everywhere else. And rip the C off his sweater. He does not deserve to have it.

    18. Seriously Mr. John M … what part of Jagr’s answer to Sam :

      “It’s tough to say. You have to win some games at home. That’s the whole key,� Jaromir Jagr said. “But you have to show the fans that the patient game is effective, too. I understand that they want to see some goals, but I think on the road we’re more patient with the puck. If we didn’t see anything with the puck, we didn’t press.� :::

      Shows you that he’s tired of playing at the Garden ? He acknowledge that sometimes the team might press but that the team also has to give the fans something to cheer about … Jagr has been nothing but a professional since he’s gotten to NY. He has given this team everything and even went out there to play in the playoffs with a severely dislocated shoulder … so give it a rest

    19. I totally agree with Peter.

      First of all, in San Jose, they had to tell the fans 13 years ago that it was OK to start booing a poor performance. And do you know who said that? the coach, that’s who. Because he wanted to start putting some pressure on his players to win, and because he wanted to tell the fans that they were no longer expansion patsies, that they were big boys now, and that they should be expected to start winning.

      As far as the MSG crowd is concerned, their reactions are a good thing. the fact that Straka and Roszival won’t shoot from the point is THEIR STUPIDITY, not the fans who yell for them to shoot when wide open.

      And the fans reaction also acts as a barometer to the GM and the coach. They get an idea of who should and should not be playing, who should and should not be traded, or benched, etc. by having 18,000 additional scouts in the stands giving their “instant analysis”.

      And most important of all, the fans PAY THE SALARIES of these guys, and they have a right to voice their opinions, just like we do on this blog. And what good would fans be if they were always robotic sycophants, clapping for bad plays and dumb mental mistakes. I don’t want crowds to be Stepford Fans, mindlessly applauding sub-par efforts by the home team.

      Just as Sam is, I hope, glad that we don’t all agree with every word he says. Just most of them :)

    20. Way to completely mis-interpret a comment! To take that quote and turn it into “he’s tired of playing at the garden” is ignorance at its finest. As is turning it into “he blames the fans” for their poor play at home. Seriously, it’s no wonder Jagr was hesitent to take the “C” last year. Not only does he need to worry about his difficulties with the language, he needs to worry about how reporters are going to interperet and portray his his comments, and how the fans will to rush to condemn him for them. Given the fact the man carried this franchise on his back last season, it disgusts me how quickly people (not just the comments here, but across the internet in general) jump to judge and criticize anything he says.

    21. I am a kind of nervous and excited :)..just zapping around some others channel on NBC, ESPN etc.and everything seems to be working…

      15 minutes left..come on let the fun begin :)

    22. Haven´t you, folks, heard my outcry…I can´t believe I am connected with HNIC in Canada and fittingly german wing Jochen Hecht scored “my” first goal on the Internet…

      It is just unbelievable, I have to admit having some tears in the eyes, listening to both national anthems…

      can´t wait for tomorrow for the RANGERS !!!

      Yeah, now the 21st century has begun !!!!


    23. Matthias … how are you connecting to HNIC online? If you are going to watch the Rangers game tomorrow how will you connect to MSG? I have NHL Center Ice so I get to see the Rangers game here in Florida but I would love to connect to MSG online to get all the other Rangers programs

    24. I will probably not see MSG either but it´s offered tomorrow as well as the same channel as todays games here out of Buffalo… By the way I am very dissapointed of the Sabres here after the second period as the best team right now of the NHL , they seemed to very lethargic and the Leafs are dominating the flow of the games as Sundin leads their way with two goals and asisst.

      The Sabres looking really beatable tomorrow for the Rangers…

    25. I am planning to watch the game Penguins at the Sharks as well at 10.30 pm et…4.30 am over here….

      It is just fantastic…!!!

    26. Hey Sam,

      I don’t post, but I want to say THANK YOU! I’m a huge Ranger fan an I’m sooo glad i found this site. You are easily the best reporter for the rangers because of how dedicated you are…even more know your hockey!

      To be honest Ive even subscribed to the Journal news because i look forward to reading your articles.

      Keep up the great work man!


    27. oaaaah, that was a night, I was sittin´in front of the computer from 1 am until to 7 am to see the whole HNIC, like a kid in front of a christmas tree waiting for the gift to deliver :)

      I mean Don Cherry in Coaches Corner, I have missed this for five years..that was another dimension tonight…

      I amn sorry to be jubilant like this but I cant wait for 5pm et, 11 pm tonight and as I said I am very hopeful that the Rangers are able to beat those lethargic Sabres from last night ;):)

    28. Like Jim said, thanks a million for this blog. I have turned my fellow Blueshirts on this site. Living in the heart of “Redneck Hockey” country, which pains me to say, forces me to find new ways to get real hockey news. Keep up the good work Sam!


    29. Im sorry if I offended the Jagr lovers. I’m not a Jagr lover. Jagr has created his own NHL history. I din’t create it for him. I don’t like the management walking on egg shells to satisfy one player. If it’s a team, then Jagr is one of twenty. I like his offense. I hate his attitude. As far as I’m concerned as a Ranger fan, screw Jagr.

    30. John M.

      You’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m entitled to mine. What the heck has Jagr done to piss you off? What attitude? He is leading the NHL in scoring, has been productive since the day he was acquired (something almost every other superstar has been unable to do), has a sense of humor and can single-handeldly win games for us. Just who would replace him? Look at who was traded for him in the past, Kris Beech, Anson Carter? He is a gift that keeps on giving. What do you mean that “Jagr has created his own history.”


      Walking on egg shells? Maybe as far as Malik goes, but Rucinsky and Sykora are not back and were replaced by North Americans (Cullen and Shanahan). I get the team concept, but he’s leading the league in assists and every team needs a variety of players. You can’t have a team of Jagrs, just like you can’t have a team of Hollwegs.

    31. . What do you mean that “Jagr has created his own history.�


      JJ created his sulking on bad teams. JJ has been accused of giving up on his team more than once. (See the Washington Capitals and Latter Penguins years) I’m not making this stuff up. The Caps that played with him never forgave him for dogging it and It’s well documented how his points totals came down in the Latter Penguin years.

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