So two buddies are on a fishing trip, when they come across a grizzly bear. One of them says, “Run!” The other says, “You can’t outrun a grizzly bear.” And the first guy says, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.”
That’s the way I look at the Rangers’ playoff run—these final 21 games. They are still seventh in the East. I don’t see Atlanta or Buffalo or Florida or Toronto really being involved. They all stink—and have shown it this past week (Atlanta is the same 2-7-1 as the Rangers in the last 10 games; Buffalo has lost three really bad ones in a row).
So that leaves Carolina, which I have thought for a month now will make the playoffs, and the Devils—if they can somehow maintain this ridiculous pace. (doubtful).
The Devils are the grizzly bear. The Rangers just have to outrun Carolina (which is 3-5-2 in its last 10, by the way).
So, since the most important game is always the next game, and the next game is at Carolina Tuesday, that’s the most important game. Stay ahead of Carolina, and let Carolina worry about the Devils and all the other drek.
Thoughts on yesterday’s game:
1) Very, very, very odd stuff surrounding Marian Gaborik’s concussion. But I really think the instant speculation that the Rangers are about to trade him and using the concussion story as a cover, well, that’s just too wild for me.
2) If he does, indeed, have a concussion, and if he had it before the game yesterday, I’m going to go out on a limb and blame Gaborik for not letting the team doctors, trainers and coaches know. Because I’ll tell you this right now. There’s no way I believe that Jim Ramsay would have let him play with a concussion. No way. Ramsay has seen at least four Rangers’ careers end due to concussions—Pat LaFontaine, Mike Richter, Eric Lindros and Jeff Beukeboom. He’s not going to let anybody play with a concussion.
3) If the Rangers had gone 5-5 instead of 2-7-1 in their last 10, they’d have five more points, would be comfortably ahead of Carolina and wouldn’t even be thinking about the Devils.
4) That said, the Rangers aren’t going to continue to get 25 percent of the available points down the stretch. They’re not great, but they are too good to continue to limp in these final 21 games. And if they play a little over NHL .500, they’ll make it. And I’d love to make some bets with the Chicken Little crowd here, but I don’t bet. They’re going to make it. In fact, I think there’s a better chance they’ll catch Montreal than one of those current 9-15 teams catching them.
5) Blame Henrik Lundqvist, if you like, for a couple of butterflies that went in. But the Rangers got two absolute gift goals from Brian Boucher. He made some spectacular saves, but boy was he shaky at times.
6) Some of the kids had a tough time with that very good team. I was under the impression that you guys were willing to live with that. I think the Rangers coach is remaining honest with himself about living with it. But there was that one play, where Del Zotto and Gilroy were on, and Del Zotto had the puck behind the net, and couldn’t move it while Philly was changing, ended up forechecked into a bad pass to Stepan, and Stepan shot the puck into the stands for a penalty. And there were two goals where McDonagh and Sauer—who were mostly good—looked a bit bamboozled.
7) Tortorella had a tough call late in the game, down a goal, after a second consecutive Philly icing had the Flyers exhausted facing a faceoff in their own zone. At any other time in the game, you let the gassed Flyers stay out there for another draw. But with 1:07 left, he was kind of forced to call a timeout to try to set up a 6-on-5 play. And then he sent out six forwards. Only Wojtek Wolski had his shot blocked and it ended up in an empty-net goal for the Flys.
9) How many times did you see Chris Pronger (true shutdown defenseman) sliding to the ice to try to block a pass, or going down on one knee to try to block a shot 20 feet from the net? None, right?
10) Good move to recall Kris Newbury in Gaborik’s place. No matter who came up, they weren’t going to get first-line offense. Newbury makes them a little harder to play against, and that is something that has changed these past weeks with Wolski and Christensen in the lineup, and Prust and Boyle banged up. The Rangers don’t play with the same growl they had the first 52. They still play hard, they still play to the buzzer, they still hit and block shots. I just think some of the meanness has slipped away.
11) I’ve said this before. If the NHL got rid of the stupid hit-from-behind rule, guys wouldn’t turn and put themselves into that vulnerable position. And guys wouldn’t dive face-first into the boards to draw a penalty. And refs would be spared making those calls. Let boarding be boarding, but not if the player willfully turns his back. And if they know they will get drilled if they turn, they won’t turn.
AP photo, above.