On a day like today, in the situation they’re in, you try and look for signs of frustration, disappointment or a loss of hope. Maybe a guy snaps at a questions, or someone known for his sense of humor exhibits far less wit or sarcasm than normal.
Yet, to a man, there wasn’t any of that. The Rangers showed no such symptoms at today’s skate.
“I feel like they feel they’re very much in this thing,” Tom Renney said after this afternoon’s skate. “I think we’re taking out of last night what we should and also leaving behind what we should.”
Leaving behind, of course, the egregious mistakes that cost them at least two of the goals. The players I interviewed all mentioned eliminating mistakes on several occasions, knowing a few key turnovers prevented them from knotting the series at a game apiece.
Here are a few newsy nuggets that came out of practice:
1. Jed Ortmeyer WILL play. Renney said he liked what Brad Isbister brought to the lineup. He still thinks Isbister can help them exploit certain holes the coaching staff saw in the game tape. From the sound of it, I’d guess Isbister will play tomorrow. However…
“There will be a lineup change tomorrow, definitely,” Renney said, “and Ortmeyer will be back in.”
Obviously the guess is that Ryan Hollweg sits after playing the first two games of the series. Honestly, who else could it be?
2. Michael Roszival should play yet again. Rosy didn’t practice (he was the only one), but his knee should be fit to go.
“He’s good. He’s OK,” Renney said. “It’ll be a tomorrow morning thing as far as what we do with him but I’m optimistic. He’s a warrior.”
3. Sorry folks: Don’t expect changes on defense. Renney noted that playoff series are short and can change quickly, yet he also liked what he saw from the pair of Karel Rachunek and Paul Mara before Rachunek’s injury.
“They were very good before we had injuries with Karel. They looked like they were in lockstep with one another,” Renney said, adding: “I think you’re talking about two experienced players that, if you show faith in them and give them the confidence that’s required to do the job, I think they’ll step up.”
That’s a wordy quote, but to summarize: Expect Mara and Rachunek to skate as a pair again tomorrow.
At one point in the interview, Renney admitted that his team doesn’t have the same kind of depth as Buffalo. (Uh, yeah…) It still has depth, he said, just not in the scoring column at this time.
As a result, it sounds like the staff spent time this morning on how to free the Jagr line from the clutches of the Sabres 5-on-3 defensive style, and Renney didn’t really hide from the obvious: The defense must involve itself in the attack.
Now, I understand this is probably a scary thought to many of you who employ ZERO faith in the club’s blueliners to play mistake-free (and with good reason). This is clearly something that could make-or-break the series, even if it’s the only strategy to counter the Buffalo D. If the Sabres beat the Rangers for a couple breakaways, arranging tee times for Wednesday comes into full view.
That’s about all from me. … But if you’re looking for reason to believe, here’s Matt Cullen:
“We’re going home and we’ve been playing really well at home as of late. Particularly in the playoffs, our fans have been a big difference for us. So we’re going to look to feed off the energy of the crowd. This is the biggest game of the year. You certainly don’t want to go in a 3-0 hole. We are aware of how important this game is so we’re going to give our best effort and throw everything at ‘em.”
The question: How much sticks and how much doesn’t?