I’m always amazed at how quickly everything turns at this time of year … and I’ve only been watching hockey for, what, 40 years. But it does. You never expect one night to bring such euphoria, and another to bring such a frightening, lightning-fast end.
I mean, if the Rangers had won last night, things would have felt like they were snowballing toward a playoff spot … and then that would have changed 180 degrees if they lost tonight. Just as, even with that belly-punch loss, if they can win tonight, they will feel they have another shot.
Here’s the deal. They can still catch Boston. If they win tonight they’re a point behind the Bruins, and though the Bruins will have a game in hand (Thursday vs. Buffalo) the Rangers will temporarily, at least, have the tiebreaker with 37 wins. Then the B’s have Carolina Saturday and at Washington (meaningless for the Caps) Sunday while the Rangers have the Flyers Friday and Sunday.
So that’s possible.
And the Rangers could still catch the Flys, who have nothing left but the two with the Rangers. To do that the Rangers need a point tonight and a sweep of the Flyers. That’s possible.
And while that’s all smiley talk, there’s this: If they lose tonight, to a Toronto team that beat them a week and a half ago; if they lose tonight, at home , where they’ve been dreadful all season, then they need to sweep the Flyers and hope Boston doesn’t get more than one point in its last three games.
In other words, lose tonight and realistically it’s all over.
I’m withholding judgment on the whole John Tortorella-Henrik Lundqvist thing because it would be a second-guess at this point to simply rip the coach for costing his team a game it desperately needed.
I will say I didn’t like the move the moment it happened, didn’t like putting the best and most accountable player on the team on the bench at 3-2 in a must-win game. Didn’t like it one bit.
But I’m not on the bench, and I didn’t see what Tortorella saw (apparently). Lundqvist “needed to come out” the coach said. OK. I think. I’m assuming he saw something we didn’t, and that he wasn’t just letting his anger cost the Rangers, that it wasn’t just a knee-jerk move. That there was a basis behind it.
I don’t know if there was, or what that was, and I do try to think things through, despite what some people think. And I doubt we will ever get the whole explanation.
But I didn’t like the move. And I’m sure a lot of you didn’t like it. And it may have cost the Rangers their season.
AFTERNOON UPDATE, 12:07 p.m.: Here is the NHL’s final Central Scouting ratings of prospects for the 2010 draft.