All or nothing


It seems fairly ridiculous now that at earlier junctures this season I referred to meager mid-winter games as “must win” for the Rangers. I did it against the Toronto Maple Leafs as early as late January. I probably did it against Tampa Bay a couple of days later.

The Rangers ended up losing both of those games, of course, and are still alive to talk about it. And yet I doubt I’m breaking news when I say I don’t think they have that luxury today, when they can either pull themselves back into this series against the Sabres, or dig themelves into a 3-0 hole.

“It’s all about winning this game and it sets up a whole new set of circumstances for everybody — not only for us, but for our opponent,” Tom Renney said. “And that’s what this game is about: backing your opponent off and maybe leaving them with some uncertainty. And that’s what today is all about.

“I said to the guys, ‘We might have momentum right now, don’t underestimate that. We played a good game in Buffalo we made some mistakes, there are other areas of our game that we can sort of camouflage that we played real well, but me, I do believe we have some momentum based on and we have to identify wih that. It’s no prisoners. Go.”

Some updates:

  • Jed Ortmeyer is back in, Brad Isbister stays while Ryan Hollweg is out. When Renney was asked what it is he likes about Isbister, the coach pointed to the way the forward uses his size (He is, of course, a “big, strong man,” which is a favorite Renney phrase).

    “We seem to be able to spend a little bit more time controlling pucks on the walls, in the corners, behind the net,” Renney said. “I like his presence going to the net, those types of things. It’s not like those things were stellar the last game, but it is there in his game. We’ve seen it in the past and we think it creates an advantage for us.”

  • Michal Rozsival is likely to play, although Thomas Pock will take part in the warmups. Either way, Renney won’t play seven D, and Karel Rachunek is in.
  • And speaking of struggling defensemen, Renney was asked if Marek Malik’s devastating between-the-dots pass in Game 2 merited a conversation.

    “We had 30 seconds in the hallway,” Renney said. “This is a veteran NHL player who certainly plays the game better than I ever could. He understands where pucks have to go and what plays are most appropriate….It was a tough play. It was one of those things where you see the play and make it. Harry thought this and was close. Close against the Buffalo Sabres isn’t going to beat them.”

  • While Renney has been reluctant to do too much line-matching, look for the coach to use the last change today to get the Jaromir Jagr line away from the Sabres unit of Chris Drury, Drew Stafford, and Dainius Zubrus, who have been largely successful in shutting them down.

    OK, more later. Josh and I are both here, so we’ll try to fire up another podcast post-game.

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    1. As much as I may have disliked Isbister playing in some regular season games in the past, I have to agree with Renney on this one. If the Rangers win the battles in their attacking end and don’t let the Sabres break out with their speed, it takes away a lot of what they do best. The Rangers did this for the majority of Game 2, but it was the couple small mistakes that cost them the game, despite playing a “nearly perfect” hockey game as many of the Rangers players said.

    2. I’m predicting a bounce-back game for Marek Malik (if you can even call that a good thing). But it is Rachunek Mara that I’m worried about still. If they can get it together again then, well that’s what im really hoping for and just putting trust in Renney with.

    3. “a “big, strong man,â€? which is a favorite Renney phrase”

      is that a hint at his sexual orientation?

      It is unbelievable how highly he thinks of Malik, when everybody else can see that he sucks, Renney has blind love for the very big, strong man. I am convinced that Malik and Renney did have at least some form of sexual activity with each other.

    4. Marek Malik was actually looking like an NHL defenseman for several games. He made a bonehead play that cost the Rangers the game. I just hope he isn’t harping on it and gets back to playing hockey.

    5. Nice to have an afternoon game makes it for a prime time start over here :):) hope to get some pictures over here otherwise I need to listen to the Audio…I wish you guys a tremendous atmosphere at the Garden and hope the Rangers to get an early goal and then clock up the neutral zone avoiding the Sabres counter attack…

      Greetings out of Germany,

    6. AngelusMortis on

      It is ridiculous to keep playing Rachunek, especially with Mara. I want to see this “chemistry” that these two have together, because the only chemistry I see is between Buffalo players when these two are on the ice. Rachunek is responsible for at least one goal a game, yet Renney still gives the guy ice time. A possible 3-0 series deficit will be too late to give Thomas Pock his chance; he needs to be getting ice time today. But, Tom Renney lives in his own world where people like Rachunek and Malik are great, All-Star defensemen, who are always in position and never let a puck get near Henrik, and players like Marcel Hossa who haven’t been regular PK’ers for months will be able to walk onto the ice in the playoffs and kill penalties efficiently. Tom Renney continues to make an ass out of himself.

    7. I dont think there will be a Drury-Stafford-Zubrus line,
      its more likely that stafford will play with vanek and roy (i hope rachunek will not see much of ’em, vanek smoked him in both games),
      it looks like mair will be with drury and zubrus, and afinogenow with connolly and kotalik.

    8. Lenny Gitelson on

      I hate to admit it but Isbister was pretty good. I like Hollweg and the energy that he brings to the ice, but Isbister did alot of positive things on the ice when he was out there. He helped control the puck deep in Sabreland and that alone is the best defense we have!

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