I am done. I will no longer try to convince anybody that this team is different than any Rangers team we’ve seen since, 1997, at least; more probably since 1994. That this team works harder, does more little things to win, and does it with a resolve and a resilience. That this team is NOT same-old, same-old; or that it’s not a pile of garbage third-liners with no talent and a bunch of overrated youth.
This team is special, and if you’re not enjoying this season — and some of you aren’t — and if you’re not convinced that something really cool is happening here, well, then you’re missing out. Big-time. Most of you get it, but some are missing out, as was obvious in the game thread last night. I understand the frustration at 3-0. But it started long before 3-0.
And, well, I’m not going there any more. You are either blind or blindly pessimistic if you don’t see what this team is about. Last night should have been the last piece of evidence to convince you. If not, you cannot be convinced.
1) The crowd at the start of the game was a 7 or 7.5 out of 10, which given what the team had done the day before, and what was at stake, probably should have been better. It was close to a 9 at the end, really loud. And most of the fans did not throw in the towel. But a lot did, and the amount of booing was awful. Vinny Prospal had a lot to say about it … you can go back to last night’s quotes below.
2) Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan=Monsters. They had to be broken up because of the early struggles, too, but they got it done when it mattered. And so did Wolski and Prospal. And Gaborik got the puck to Sauer, who made the shot that went a few inches over the line for the winner. Once again, lots of contributors — big plays by Staal and Anisimov and Stepan on some of the goals — including the shot-blockers … and Callahan and Boyle both ate big ones to protect the one-goal lead late.
3) Henrik Lundqvist. He was beaten cleanly on one goal. The other two, he had no chance. Then he took over the game, just as he did in Boston nine days earlier. Tortorella said he’s never seen Lundqvist play at this level. I believe him.
4) How about Vinny? Tortorella spoke about his enthusiasm, and how he had written off Prospal after his latest knee injury. The guy is a great teammate, and even better when he’s getting it done at big times in big games. They don’t win this game if Prospal doesn’t score the two goals there in the second.
5) How about Dan Girardi, the Block Ness Monster? That one play — after he’d been just pummelled by pucks and bodies Sunday — where he was cut on the nose (by a teammate’s stick, I think) and went to the front of the net, where it seemed he couldn’t see (ever get hit in the nose?) and he was bent over bleeding, and then hit by a big slapper he never saw … that just sums up his year.
6) Perfect? Hardly. The Rangers were on their heels. I thought they were trying hard, but just a step behind, and then they made some blunders. That one Boston goal where four Rangers had the guy surrounded in front and none of them bothered to put a body or stick on him, was dreadful. And Wolski — who helped win both games Sunday and Monday in a big way — coughed up a puck and forced Lundqvist to get the tip of his glove on a slapper that then whistled off the glass just before one of the Prospal goals. But no game is perfect, I guess.
7) Some really cool stuff in the quotes last night, in case you didn’t see them.
8) How do you think that final four minutes felt for Carolina? Like a kick in the groin, I’d guess. So now the Canes have to win tomorrow against Detroit (or get a Bettman Bonus Point) or the Rangers can clinch Thursday against Atlanta. But now sixth place is back in play, along with seventh. Games to watch tonight: Tampa Bay at Baby Buffaloes; and the desperate defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks at Montreal.
9) While we’re at it, here’s the rest of the season for the four teams going for spots 6-8 in the East: Wednesday — Detroit at Carolina; Thursday — Atlanta at Rangers; Montreal at Ottawa; Friday — Philly at Baby Buffaloes; Carolina at Atlanta; Saturday — Devils at Rangers; Montreal at Toronto; Tampa Bay at Carolina; Baby Buffaloes at Columbus; Sunday — none. Remember that the Rangers will have to finish with one more point than Montreal to beat out the Habs, because they have the tiebreaker, and that Buffalo has that game in hand and the tiebreaker right now. Carolina has a game in hand, but the Rangers have one more regulation/OT win.
10) I don’t know where the Callahan (broken ankle) rumors started or there’s anything to them — I can’t imagine there are because nobody who would/should know wrote about it — but that’s the twitter/idiot world in which we now live. I’m not saying it’s not true. I’m saying that until it is, it’s just a rumor, and if it isn’t true, then it’s idiotic that we’re even addressing it. I saw him during the stick salute and he looked fine. He wasn’t in the lockerroom. That’s not unusual because lately he’s been piling on the ice packs after games. One game last week, he came out very late, wearing his ice like a coat. John Tortorella was in a pretty good mood, even a little emotional, after the game. I don’t think he would have been if he knew about Callahan being hurt. Again, it’s possible that it was true and he didn’t know at that point. But I’m going to be really ticked to have wasted even a little thought on this if it’s a twitter idiot. It probably is.
11) I’m out of words.
AP photo, above.