AFTERNOON UPDATE, 1:57 P.M.: Here’s the info on playoff tickets, from the Rangers:
RANGERS INDIVIDUAL PLAYOFF TICKETS GO ON-SALE
Monday, April 11th – 12 PM (Editor’s note: That means noon.)
New York, April 10, 2011 – The New York Rangers announced today that tickets for the first two rounds of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs will go on-sale on Monday, April 11th at 12:00 p.m. Tickets will be available on newyorkrangers.com and Ticketmaster charge by phone 1-866-858-0008.
In an effort to make tickets available to as many fans as possible, a maximum of four tickets per person per round may be purchased. All ticket orders are subject to service charges. Please call the Madison Square Garden Disabled Services Department at (212) 465-6034 for tickets for people with disabilities. For more information, visit newyorkrangers.com.
Beyond the crack of noon. Thoughts:
1) That was some crazy day. The only day I can remember comparing to that was the final day of 1988, and I’ve mentioned this before. John Vanbiesbrouck shut out Quebec at the Garden to put the Rangers ahead of the Devils for the final playoff spot, but the Devils were playing an hour later in Chicago. And the Rangers (and the media) sat in the players’ lounge and watched the end of that game, as John MacLean scored in OT and put the Devils into the playoffs for the first time, knocking the Rangers out. The differences: A) obviously, the outcome for the Rangers; B) the time elapsed between the two games’ endings; and C) the 1988 ending was more dramatic and sudden.
2) I have to tell you, I’m happy for, and pulling for, Chris Drury. Yeah, I know, he has a vanilla personality that makes it hard for outsiders to believe he’s a great captain. Believe me, I know, he’s never, ever going to live up to his salary. And I agree, that contract has prevented the Rangers from maybe making other upgrades. But I think he’s a good guy. And I am 100 percent sure that (at least most of) the players respect and follow and are inspired by him. That goes for the head coach, too. More to the point, I believe he could be a help in these playoffs if his knee allows him to skate. Nobody gets paid a nickel in the playoffs. So everybody’s contribution counts the same. A relatively healthy Drury, at the same salary as everybody else, could make a difference now.
3) That said, it sure was an interesting decision to sit down Sean Avery against Martin Brodeur and the other Devils he antagonizes. Maybe a better way to look at it was Mats Zuccarello for Avery, only because of the reality that a skills competition could have decided the Rangers’ fate (more on that idiocy in a moment). Whatever, it worked. Does that mean Avery is done here? I don’t think so. If the Rangers get into a grind of a series — and there are no shootouts in the playoffs, you know — I could see Avery going in for Zuccarello or Erik Christensen or Wojtek Wolski … though Wolski can sure be good when he wants to be.
4) I might add that Matt Gilroy, over the last four periods after being prucha’d for six games and playing forward for a couple of periods in Game 81, has sure played well on defense. Another interesting playoff decision for John Tortorella. Gilroy’s puck-moving or Steve Eminger’s grind?
5) I have called a lot of players Monsters over the course of this season, and many (Prust, Boyle, Staal, Dubinsky, Callahan, Sauer, McMonster, Lundvist, Girardi — the Block Ness Monster — have earned season-long Monster status. But one guy who hasn’t been cited nearly enough — my mistake — is Ruslan Fedotenko. What a great addition this guy has been, steady and sturdy and reliable and resilient. He was fabulous again in Game 82, as he was in so many games this season. So … Fedotenko=Monster.
6) Marian Gaborik played really hard in Game 82, much harder than he played in Game 81, much harder than he played in Game 82 last season. And he almost scored toward the end when the score was either 4-2 or 5-2, and I thought, that probably would have been worse than not scoring at all because it would have brought up all the “he only scores in blowouts” garbage again. He’s another guy who can atone in the next few weeks.
7) Said it last night, will say it again: It’s time for the shootouts to be gone or fixed or whatever. But they can’t stay this way. Three-point games made for exciting races, but they could have cost teams millions in revenue, could have cost good hockey people their jobs. They are not good for the game. More to the point, if the skills competition is going to decide games and playoff berths, if a point is a point is a point, then you can’t devalue those points in the tiebreaker. You cannot punish a team for excelling in the silly skills competition and sell the skills competition as a legit game-decider. Again, last year the Rangers lost in a skills competition and went home after Game 82, while the Flyers went to the finals. This year, if not for the change in the tiebreaker system, which excludes shootout wins, the Rangers would have decided their own fate on Sunday and not have had to count on the Lightning beating Carolina. They won 44 games this year. Without the shootout, they only won 35. So make up your mind, NHL, how many did they win? Is a win a win?
8) Because if a shootout win is not really a win, then don’t award the two points and the Bettman Bonus Point to the loser. Just get rid of the damn thing. It’s fun to watch, yes. But it’s a terrible way to lose a game after 65 minutes of hockey, and it’s a worse way to determine playoff berths and success and revenue and, ultimately, firings and trades. I don’t believe there’s one single more fan attending NHL games because of this contrived way of ending tied games. Not one.
9) With Sid the Skid out of the playoffs (probably) for Pittsburgh, the league loses its golden egg, its major marketing tool, its adopted son. So, then, the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechtrick against the team from the largest market becomes the NHL’s bread-and-butter, doesn’t it?
10) There were a lot of posts and a lot of info last night, so in case you missed it, there was some Bonehead Karma in action yesterday. The son of our buddy, the late OldCoach92, was one of the fans chosen to receive the shirt off the back of one of the Rangers during the post-game ceremony yesterday. I am not sure which jersey he got, but good for him, good for us, good on the Rangers, and I’m sure OldCoach92 is smiling today.
11) Isn’t it completely ridiculous that, based on a Tampa Bay-Carolina game in Raleigh, the Rangers’ season was going to be a wild success or a disastrous failure? I think so. The coach thinks so. The goalie — from a personal standpoint — isn’t so sure … Henrik Lundqvist said he didn’t think they could be satisfied if they didn’t make it. But what this team did this year doesn’t change because they got in, and it shouldn’t have changed if they hadn’t gotten in. Tortorella was dead right on that.
12) And the coach, by the way, has had one spectacular year. Seriously, he didn’t sacrifice any teaching or nurturing or any of the growing process for one single victory this year. He didn’t worry about his job security or the need to make the playoffs or any of that over sticking to the plan. He insisted they not sacrifice any of their youth. Because, let’s face it, the Rangers could have swapped some tomorrow for today and upgraded for their playoff run. They didn’t. That’s the coach.
13) Going into what used to be the Patrick Division semifinal — Rangers-Caps was almost an annual event — is there a team in the tournament with a better feeling about their guy between the pipes?
AP photo, above.
Also, the playoff schedule is expected to be released tonight, around 10 p.m., after all the games have been completed.
Finally, not sure if we can cobble together a Boneheads/Paul Mara Beard Contest Extravaganza and Picnic … it’s in discussion. Maybe we can just post some photos if we can’t do the whole nine.