Leave it to my friend CCCP to make perfect sense. He did just around midnight as I was wrapping up the day with a headache. He’s right.
A blog is a place for people to vent, and if that means a place to be negative or pessimistic or positive or optimistic, if it means a place where they declare which players are their favorites, and which they can’t stand, and a place where they can point out what’s good about a team, and what is not so good, and can just state their opinions, well then that’s what this place should be.
CCCP made me realize that maybe I try to force people to see things my way, and that perhaps because I’ve spent an entire career being analytical without emotional ties to any team, I’ve discounted that element. Maybe it’s easier for me to “understand” that every teams has ebbs and flows, that the best team in the league loses a lot of games and the worst team wins a lot of games, and they both have very good streaks and very bad streaks, and that there is no such thing as a must-win game until along comes a game you actually must win.
You guys are invested in this team, and I should not try to convince you that everything’s OK when you don’t think it is.
So I’ve learned a little lesson. And I will cut back on my preaching.
1) I know a lot of you are jumping off bridges, and if you already have, well, then you aren’t reading this anyway. But the Rangers were the better team for the first and second periods. That said, they weren’t nearly physical enough, weren’t nearly tight enough—though they gave up almost nothing except for their few gigantic mess-ups—they didn’t have the requisite snarl, didn’t make things difficult enough for the Senators. They didn’t. But they weren’t terrible, and it wasn’t a complete lack of effort.
2) Marc Staal committed two beauties. After a few steps forward, this was a step back. On the first goal, Brian Boyle lost it near the blue line. Bad play. But Stall regained it, then he lost it. Terrible play. On the second goal, Staal had a chance to bang the puck up the boards and didn’t, instead giving it to John Mitchell, who turned it over. Then Staal was beaten badly, and was soft, to the net against Foligno, who scored. It’s never Staal’s fault on TV, though.
3) And at that point, the Rangers had allowed six goals in their last seven periods directly off turnovers. Just plain old ugly cough-ups.
4) How many Rangers ever score a goal like the one Ryan Callahan scored? Answer: One. Pretty awesome pass by Brad Richards, too.
5) But Richards, I thought, was the culprit on the 2-on-4 that turned into Turris’ easy tap-in rebound goal that won the game for Ottawa in the third. He was back, and when Alfredsson “spanked” Anton Stralman (John Tortorella’s word there), Richards froze and went down to a knee. Marian Gaborik was also slow getting back with Michael Del Zotto trapped in the offensive zone.
6) Other than the Callahan goal, and a couple of near misses by Gaborik, and two chances in close by Derek Stepan (he couldn’t get a decent shot on either one), it seemed almost all the real scoring opportunities were by the grinders—Ruslan Fedotenko, John Scott.
7) How about Scott on the breakaway? Good comedy there. Reminded me of the game at the Spectrum where Jeff Beukeboom came out of the penalty box to a breakaway pass. Beuk roofed his with a move that would make Brian Leetch jealous. Scott hit the glass.
8) I thought the first two PPs stunk, the third—I’m sure I’ll get killed for saying this—was really good, the fourth relatively lousy again. I know I harp on having threee guys above the circles, but not only is that still going on, but two of them are just barely inside the blue line. Not only can you not create any good scoring plays from up there, but it almost guarantees the PK unit will get to every rebound and loose puck. Just awful.
9) That’s some story about Senators owner Eugene Melnyk saying upcoming RFA Erik Karlsson is going to be the best defenseman in the history of hockey. Better than Wade Redden? Hope Karlsson’s agent takes Ottawa to the cleaners.
10) How good would Chris Neil look in blue, with the way this Rangers team plays? I know, he took a hometown discount to stay there as a UFA. Just sayin.’
11) Meant to mention this the other night in Jersey, with the way their P.A. guy hollers and screams like a carnival barker. Makes you appreciate a straight-shooting pro like the Garden’s Joe Tolleson who just tells you who scored or what the penalty is without trying to break your eardrums. And it’s not like the Garden always gets it right, because the Knicks have one of the biggest carnival-barking buffoons in sports, manning a mic once used by the great, great John Condon.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Ryan Callahan.
2) Ryan McDonagh.
3) Dan Girardi.
Russell Tanenbaum’s Three Rangers Stars:
1) Ryan Callahan.
2) Derek Stepan.
3) Ruslan Fedotenko.
AP photos, above.