That was the quote from Brad Richards (on MSG Network), who said several times several different ways that the Rangers: A) survived themselves and a brutal opening schedule and B) are not playing particularly well, even if they are playing hard most of the time and C) got eight points in the bank, and those are non-refundable.
So tell me right now that you wouldn’t have signed for eight points before the Rangers began this idiotic schedule that began with four needless exhibition games in Europe? Tell me you aren’t thrilled with the eight points despite your boys being pretty much outplayed for just about every one of the seven games?
They will get better. They must be a lot better. They can’t really get worse. It probably won’t turn on a dime now that they’re coming home to the partially renovated Garden, or now that they’re going to practice at their own facility and sleep in their own beds. It might still take a while because, boy, they have work to do.
1) Martin Biron. We know by now that this guy is a terrific backup he is. But think about the situation, where, when he plays now, he absolutely cannot afford to have a stinker. Ever. Good for him. Great teammate.
2) Girardi=Block Ness Monster. Generally speaking, I wouldn’t use Dan Girardi on the PP. He’s not bad there, really. But he’s not good enough at it for it to be worth him getting another minute added to his total, and not good enough at it for the risk that the next shift after the PP ends, somebody else will have to face the opponent’s top line.
3) Having said that, Girardi turned this game around on the PP. The Rangers PP stunk (head to toe?) for all of the first six games, and was stinking again when John Tortorella threw out some grinders on the PP. And those guys just kept it so simple, did the obvious things that the No. 1 and No. 2 units refuse to do: moved their feet, got into a position where Ruslan Fedotenko got open in the high slot and wanted the puck. Girardi faked the shot and got it to him for a re-direction and a huge goal. An enormous goal. When was the last time the Rangers, any Ranger, scored a PP goal like that, on an intentional deflection? (Granted, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik had just been on the ice for a long shift when Gaborik drew the penalty that put the Rangers on the PP).
4) Then Ryan Callahan, who started to turn his game around (his linemates, I thought, struggled some, and were broken up) passed when he should have shot, and the puck goes in. Another PPG, not drawn up like that.
5) So they spent all of the practice the day before stressing shoot-shoot-shoot, then come out with two PPs on which they moved the puck OK, but didn’t shoot? And carry that over to even strength?
6) I defend the coach as much as anybody, and I understand that when something’s not working he doesn’t stick with it (understatement). But I don’t get why Marian Gaborik, who was one of their best players for the first six games, has to always get punished when he’s off. And I honestly don’t know if Gaborik is one of those guys who responds well to punishment. Maybe I’m wrong.
7) Brandon Prust sure loves to fight. I’d say he won that bout, but he got tagged, too. I don’t think he should be fighting every night, especially given the shoulder surgery he had. Plus, when he’s in the box for five, it messes up the line combos.
8) For a zillion years, hockey players were taught to lift the opponent’s stick. Now it’s an automatic hooking penalty? Why? WHY? WHY?
9) Andrew Ladd=Hockey player.
10) As I said earlier, I thought Dubinsky and Anisimov struggled again, but that Wojtek Wolski looked decent when he joined the second line and Dubinsky went back to the middle. And Anisimov looked better centering the fourth line. But, I maintain, the Rangers need a second line that’s legit, a scoring threat, an energy line, responsible defensively … basically, what that second line was last year. They won’t win without it.
11) Looks to me that the rookie defenseman, Jan’s kid, is really getting comfortable with the NHL game.
12) I don’t remember seeing a worse defensive-zone shift than the one just before Fedotenko drew the penalty that led to the Callahan PPG.
My Three Rangers Stars (I swear I had this written down before the post-game show).
1) Dan (Block Ness Monster) Girardi (and it wasn’t even close).
2) Martin Biron.
3) Ruslan Fedotenko.
AP photos, above.