You know, some of the negativity is absolutely crazy. I say that a lot around here. It’s kind of like the NFL, where every loss is Armageddon and every win means Super Bowl. Just look at the coverage of the Giants and Jets in this town, and listen to some of the idiocy on the radio.
The Rangers and the NHL play 82 games. The very best team in all of the league is going to have three-game winless streaks, more than one. The very worst team in all of the league is going to win three in a row, probably a few times.
IT’S THREE FREAKIN’ GAMES.
Now, those who think these three games are indicative of anything at all, you can stop reading because I know I can’t convince you of anything, especially those way the hell out there who want the coach fired. Holy mackeral.
But the rest of you, the ones who have watched hockey for more than five minutes, the ones who understand you don’t go nutso over three games, you probably see that this winless Rangers team (which is only one game under NHL-.500, and has only one NHL loss, even though it has lost all three NHL games) hasn’t really played that badly.
It has given up nine goals. Three of those were on the power play. One really wasn’t a goal at all, but a goal was tacked on after the Mighties won a silly, unrelated breakaway contest after the game was over. One was an OT PPG. One was an empty-netter.
The Rangers’ No. 1 line has actually looked pretty decent. John Tortorella tore it up during one of the games in Stockholm, and that’s going to happen—as you know. But Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik might do some magic together, and Derek Stepan was sure comfortable there in his debut Saturday as the No. 1 left winger (how the heck did they take away the kid’s assist on Gaborik’s goal?).
The second line hasn’t hit stride yet, nor has the third. The fourth is going to have a new look tomorrow, with Kris Newbury joining Mike Rupp to add some grind. The goaltending has been excellent, as always.
Mainly, what the heck could you expect with the defense the Rangers have put out there? That’s where there really might be (should be?) major concern. Because we don’t know when or if Marc Staal comes back. And Michael Sauer, we think, will be back, but we don’t know when/if he’ll have 100 percent strength in that bum shoulder.
How many teams could lose two of their top four defensemen and survive? Especially a team whose defense is still so young, and which relied so heavily on the top four last year?
The other concern is the penalty parade, and I don’t know how you fix that. I guess you don’t accept stick fouls or weak offensive-zone penalties and definitely not too-many-men or lack-of-discipline penalties. But penalties will happen, and the Rangers better start killing them with more frequency.
If you want to be negative today, well, the Rangers next play the team that had the best record in the NHL, the best offense, the best defense and everything but the Stanley Cup last season.
I guess the Rangers bus got through the riots in the streets of Vancouver to reach the rink for practice last night.
I wonder if Jack Capuano ticked off the Rangers with his late timeout Saturday. I’d guess he did.
To clarify something I wrote yesterday … I said the Isles reminded me of the ‘95 Nordiques. I didn’t mean they’re on the verge of a championship. I just meant that they had collected a pretty good group of talented young players, and I wonder if A) they will still be playing on Long Island if they ever do reach the next level and B) if the current ownership/management group is capable of adding the extra talent they will need to even make the playoffs, never mind contend for the Cup.
I had one more thing to say, and I forgot what it was. You have no idea how often that happens.
AP photo, above.