1) Bleak, bleaker, bleakest? With Winnipeg coming for a critical game Monday, the trade deadline Wednesday and then a home-and-home with Pittsburgh, this could get worse before it gets better. Seriously.
2) That said, I don’t think there’s a move or a player available, or a single need that if filled makes this team better on Wednesday. This is a reconstruction project – with a good core for starters – that has to be addressed in the off-season.
3) Not to get a jump start on that off-season, but there was really a lot of miscalculation when this team was remade before and after the Rick Nash trade last summer. A lot. Yes, that’s a second-guess, because at the time I thought a lot of the guys they brought in were upgrades, and none of them were.
4) I’m not suggesting that the Rangers wave the white flag, because A) they won’t and B) they are still in eighth place and the team in front of them and the teams behind them ain’t exactly the ’84 Oilers. I still think (takes cover) there’s a good chance they make the playoffs.
5) Martin Biron played as scheduled, we’re told, and I believe that. But in Canada there’s been plenty of chatter about Henrik Lundqvist being checked for concussion symptons after the Dan Girardi elbow and the Mike Ribeiro shot off the mask last week, and his complaints of not feeling well and headaches. And if he is hurt, Oh My God.
6) The Rangers were much better in Montreal than they were in Ottawa (and definitely better than the Florida, Buffalo or Winnipeg losses). But they couldn’t afford that first goal so quickly, and as fluky as it was, there was a severe lack of awareness by Biron, Steve Eminger and J.T. Miller, probably among others.
7) Miller had another tough night in spots, again, but also had the Rangers’ three best scoring chances.
8) I’ve said it before, this team is soft. Wow. Could you imagine how ugly or nasty, or at least confrontational, that game would have gotten at 3-0 last year? Even before that, you take a finesse team like Montreal and challenge it to fight for pucks. The Rangers don’t do that much anymore. They have had 12 fights, none since Micheal Haley on March 12 (Haley the only two Rangers fights this month). Seven of those fights were by players no longer here. There were two players in the lineup last night who have had fights—Brian Boyle (1) and Kris Newbury (1).
9) The lack of skill continues to be the No. 1 glaring weakness of this team, and not to beat it to death, but, I repeat, if Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik were playing like first-liners, or even second-liners, the Rangers’ record would be many points better. By the way, where have Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan gone since Philly?
10) There were some unbelievable moments in this game, even for a team struggling. For example, the Brian Boyle drop pass between his skates inside the blue line. Makes you scratch your head.
11) Mats Zuccarello looked fine. The one power play looked better with him on it. The PP still stuck a zero on the board, but better.
12) The penalty kill, on the other hand, continues to stink it up. These Rangers really get killed in coverage around the front of their own net.
14) How about Sean Avery’s tweet last night? “Fire this CLOWN, his players hate him and won’t play for his BS …” I don’t know what’s funnier, that guy mocking somebody, or people going “Yeah, Sean’s telling the truth” as if he doesn’t have an axe to grind. And as if they don’t. And how about those who crawled out of the woodwork last night? I mean, I respect the ones who’ve been clamoring for the coach’s dismissal all year long, even though I know their motives. I have no respect for people who hope their team goes down in flames so they can justify their (pro-Avery/anti-Tortorella) feelings.
15) And I will say this, honestly, I thought Avery should have been on the team ahead of the Erik Christensens and the Wojtek Wolskis and others last season, and if he hadn’t been a jackass, he could sure have played on the third or fourth lines this year and be better than what they have there. But most of his teammates didn’t want him around. It wasn’t just the coach, and it wasn’t just this coach or these teammates who felt that way through his career.
16) Got bad news for those who still hold out hope. The coach isn’t getting fired around .500 and in a playoff spot. It will have to get a lot worse first. It could happen. It won’t happen now or soon.
17) Happy Easter.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. J.T. Miller.
2. Mats Zuccarello
3. Michael Del Zotto.
RangerJHW’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. I See Dead People..
2. Houston we have a problem.
3. Reggie Dunlop, “Let ‘em know you’re there! Get that stick in their side, let them know you are there. Put some #!*@ lumber in their teeth, let them know you are there!”
Happy Easter … Happy Passover.
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Henrik Lundqvist (20.19 %).
2. Mats Zuccarello (19.23 %).
3. Martin Biron (8.65 %).
Photos by Getty Images.