I remember being on a road trip in Houston with the Mets in 1986, and they were on a roll when the all-star break hit, and they didn’t want to stop playing. And the headline in our paper was “Break Dancin’.”
I don’t think these Rangers would be dancin’ had they won last night—especially those with broken or badly bruised bones. But they would have felt a whole lot better about what they’d just done in the five games/seven nights with all those AHLers plugging holes so well.
1) They still should be dancin’ because these first 52 games have been just impressive as all hell.
2) The post-game notes said that the Rangers have registered five more wins and six more points through 52 games, and have scored 13 more goals and allowed 15 fewer, than last year. But it really feels like a whole lot more than that, doesn’t it? And anybody who thinks this team, compared to last year’s team, is only that much better, hasn’t been paying attention at all.
3) The Rangers tied the game in D.C. Monday on a fluky goal, and lost this one on an equally fluky goal, and maybe they do all even out through 82 games. Except that I thought the Rangers were the better team in D.C. and the far better team in N.Y., and sometimes you’d like to think the better team deserves the breaks, and that sometimes luck shouldn’t be so much a part of the equation.
4) I am really impressed with the offensive stuff going on with Gaborik, Wolski and especially the Italian kid from Norway. They’re creating a lot, and I think it’s only a matter of time before Gaborik, especially, and the rest start putting up three-plus every night. The Rangers scored more than two for only the second time in 13 games last night, and the other one doesn’t count because it was Toronto. That still has to improve.
5) I came into the building the same time as Gaborik again, and again he signed a whole boatload of autographs. This time no jackwagons yelled at him. I was also in the elevator with Del Zotto, who was happy to be back—and had to know that he’d probably be re-Whaled after the game. He was telling me about his 10-hour bus rides in the minors. Ugh. I still think the kid’s going to be a stud offensive D-man, and sooner than later.
6) Happy 50th Birthday, TGO! I don’t want to start a whole argument again, but IMO, there’s not even a discussion about who’s the best player to ever lace them up. There was Wayne Gretzky. Then Bobby Orr. Then Mario. But it’s a lot closer between second and third than it is between first and second. And what a pleasure and highlight it was in my career to have a chance to know him and spend time around him.
7) I saw that Martin Havlat was named to the all-star game yesterday. Here’s my favorite story about him. In Mark Messier’s second stint in New York, during a bad time and a bad game in Ottawa, Havlat (typically) cheap-shotted Messier behind the net. Messier beat the daylights out of him, and then added a few extra shots as the officials tried to pry him off of Havlat. After the game, one of the Ottawa writers asked Messier, “What were you thinking there?” And Messier replied, “I was thinking what else I could do to him.”
8) Do you just love Brian Boyle’s quotes after the game? He’s become a go-to guy in the lockerroom, a must-interview.
9) I’m thinking that only three of the five sent to Hartford are coming back Monday, since Dan Girardi and Ryan Callahan are expected to return Tuesday vs. Pitt. I think Kris Newbury will be one because A) he’s tough as hell, and B) he wins faceoffs. Anybody want to guess who the others will be?
10) Was there anybody—including John Tortorella or Glen Sather—who wouldn’t have signed for 3-2 in these last five games? It certainly didn’t play out according to script, and yes they got, and should have been, greedy after the back-to-back wins in Atlanta and Washington. But bottom line is they got six points in a seven-night stretch when it would have been possible that they might get two or one or none.
AP photo, above.