I’m already back home, having taken advantage of the early start time to get out of the Garden at a decent hour. This just in: Giants lose, Michigan gets jobbed out of the BCS title game, and the Rangers are in something resembling disarray.
With that, a few discussion topics:
The most interesting revelation was that Henrik Lundqvist actually asked Tom Renney to be taken out of the game after the first period because he wasn’t feeling it (no kidding: he let in four goals on eight shots). There are two ways to look at this: Lundqvist was merely being unselfish and thinking of the team. Or Lundqvist was exposing himself as easily rattled. You decide.
Add this to the new list of Rangers defensive problems: whereas earlier in the year the mandate for the defense was to stop gambling and merely keep the opposing team in front of them, now the defense is taking it to an extreme by backing up all the way into their own net. Tom Renney acknowledged that confidence, or a lack thereof, could be part of the problem. And that sounds about right. Speaking of which…
It’s time for Darius Kasparaitis to get back in the lineup and specifically replace Sandis Ozolinsh. My feeling about Ozolinsh, who has been decent one minute and far from it the next, has always been that once you sit him down, you might lose him for good. The reason I say that is because the defenseman’s confidence coming into the year was so fragile that any step backward could be devastating. For awhile I thought maybe he could patch it together — especially given his offensive ability — but the veteran has clearly returned to scramble mode. And with the Rangers clearly lacking a physical presence tonight, it only makes sense to give Kasparaitis another chance.
The comeback attempt was fun tonight, but it underscored another significant problem: that the Rangers right now can only make that sort of run by playing the Jagr line every other shift. That might work once in a while. But if you do it all season, it’s going to cost you. “Michael Nylander has left the game because his left leg just fell off…”