When the Rangers were losing those painful 1-0 games in October and players were saying it was at least better than giving up four of five every night, I figured we’d just have to take their word for it.
Now they’ve gone so far as to prove their own theory. Because they’re right: I am far less impressed with a team that can’t keep the puck out of its own net than one that may have just been a tad disjointed in the offensive zone to start the season.
Here’s the good news: Henrik Lundqvist will surely be better moving forward than he was last night. Here’s the bad news: the Rangers seem so collectively baffled by their performances the last two games, I have a hard time seeing them figuring it all out in time for tonight.
Who knows? Maybe they’ll surprise me.
Some other thoughts:
If every skater on the Rangers’ roster played with the same urgency as Petr Prucha, this team wouldn’t be accused of such listless performances the last two games. Of course, if every skater on the Rangers’ roster was as productive with the puck on their stick as Prucha has been, there’d be a whole lot of zeroes on the board as well.
It has reached a point where Prucha is not just off to a slow start. He is failing to get shots off he used to bury two seasons ago, and while he’s still been good at carrying the puck deep into the zone, he right now doesn’t seem like the fit for the power play. While Ryan Callahan is still looking for his first goal since coming back from a knee injury, the wing at least is proficient at getting the puck on net, which is what this team needs more than anything. I’d like to see him take Prucha’s spot on the man-advantage.
It’s funny how as soon as things go south, you pine for any alternative — Mara! Dawes! Jovanoski! — and this is the case after these last two games. I’m not so misguided to think Paul Mara’s return to the lineup is going to reverse the Rangers’ fortunes, but it would at least give the Rangers the opportunity to put Michal Rozsival back with Marc Staal, which was a promising first pair.
That, of course, would mean Marek Malik would sit, or it would mean Malik could be paired with Mara in a third pairing. Why not? Can things be worse right now?
Here’s one way for the Rangers to settle themselves down: Score the first goal. If only it were that simple. But what we’ve seen the last two games is a team that has fallen behind and then tried to do too much in its efforts to get back in the game. That has left too many odd-man situations in their end, and with Lundqvist fighting the puck, the results have been devastating. In other words, the only way to build confidence is to stay in a game as long as possible.
Interesting tidbit from last night: You probably recall Dan Girardi’s blind backhand pass out of the corner which led to Toronto’s fourth goal . In my first edition story — i.e. the story I write before I head down to the dressing room — I made sure to point it out as a costly mistake. But then post-game, Brendan Shanahan announced to anyone who would listen that Girardi made the right decision, and that the pass was merely a set play that went awry. I don’t know if it was or not. The consummate team guy, Shanahan has been known to deflect criticism away from his teammates even if they may deserve it. But since I didn’t have room in my final edition story anyway, I made no mention of Girardi’s turnover.