I’m not sure I can take two more months of winter. What’s that, you say? it’s actually April? Amazing how you can forget up here.
Actually I’m not so down on Buffalo after a late-night tour through the city’s underbelly courtesy of everyone’s Sabres season-ticket holder, Sully. And at no point was I threatened or even insulted, which was a welcome departure from my own home.
Meanwhile, a few thoughts about last night:
The first actually comes from Sully, who said he thought the Sabres were flying in Game 1. I thought so as well, and if you’re a Rangers fan this is probably encouraging news. After “a fairly convincing 5-2 undressing”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070426/SPORTS01/704260419/1034/SPORTS, I’m not sure you want to hear, “Yeah, and the Sabres were flat.”
That said, to a large part, I think many of the Rangers’ problems were their own doing — the penalties, questionable or not, being one, some general careless positioning being the other. Karel Rachunek was already pretty dreadful in his return, and when Michal Rozsival went down at the end of the first, the rest of the defense seemed to struggle as well. It’s worth noting that the last time the Rangers were forced to play with five D was the night Rachunek got hurt against the Senators on March 12. Their backline was gasping for air in that game, and the result was the most recent coughed-up two-goal lead.
So then the question is, is it actually better to know the Rangers mostly just laid an egg? In a way, yes, and the reason is because rather than point to some fundamental gap in ability between the two teams, they can point to specific areas that need correction. They can’t take as many penalties, and they absolutely have to avoid getting stretched so thin — Sean Avery pointed to not having a forward high in the zone enough — that the Sabres can create odd man rushes.
Don’t mistake, I think the Sabres are the deeper, more formidable team. But the Rangers system over the last part made their sum better than their parts. They need to get back to that game.
The honeymoon is over, folks.