The Rangers seem to be a team that is mastering the extra-point system used in the NHL, a.k.a. – the LOSER point. The team went out and lost again tonight, this time to the lowly Maple Leafs, who by rights, shouldn't even be in the NHL this season, with their self-imposed rebuild… Anyway, full credit to Toronto for showing Rangers fans exactly what is wrong with our team…
1 – Fight but can not win: The Rangers absolutely machine-gunned Vesa Toskala in the Leafs' net tonight, throwing 41 shots his way, and many from decent scoring positions. The Rangers definitely were trying to keep things more simple, especially on their limited (3) powerplay opportunities. Sadly, they couldn't capitalize. The Leafs, on the other hand, scored the game-winner in overtime on a powerplay, while Blair Betts “went to the box, alone, and uh, you feel shame”…
2 – No finish: There's ample setup potential on this team, and it really bothers me that they passed on Brendan Shanahan, who was willing to play for a reported hometown discount of league minimum at one point earlier in the season. There simply isn't enough of a talented trigger man on this team, and Zherdev isn't really being given the space he needs to become one. Boy, Jagr would look nice in a Rangers' uniform right about now…
3 – Henrik showing signs of fatigue?: NO.Â Lundqvist has been hung out to dry a lot lately, but tonight wasn't one of those nights. Sure, the Leafs play an in-close and hectic offensive attack, but that's because they usually have to grind out their goals. Knowing that, the Rangers were collapsing well, and taking care of much of the Leafs' forwards, but they still allowed far too much contact with Lundqvist. It's indicative of a team with a bruised ego to not stand up for their keeper more, but I can see how they'd feel that way. They've sucked lately.Â Henrik hasn't been bad, but he's not getting the protection he needs.Â Quite frankly, I expect to see a bit of Valiquette in the next few weeks.Â Lundqvist needs a break, but not because he's tired, rather, because he is getting left alone too much…
4 – Tom Renney's Valium System: The Valium system is something that simply has to go. Whether Renney changes things, or Sather fires him to hire someone else, it doesn't matter. They aren't getting any of their offensive potential to become a reality, and that just plain sucks. It's killing any hope of a playoff appearance, and it's killing the team's chances of trading off any of their big contracts, as those players seem to be the most affected. The team's lack of scoring isn't because of a lack of talent. It's because that talent isn't being used properly. Renney's on thin ice already, and it's only a matter of time unless he can make some dramatic changes.
The Rangers also retired Harry Howell's #3 tonight, meaning that Michal Rozsival had to do the classy thing and change his number. He dons #33 now, and christened his new digs with the goal that sent the game to overtime.
Tonight's loss still earned the Rags a point, vaulting them into 6th in the Eastern Conference.Â However, they are only 2 points ahead of 9th placed Carolina, and 5 ahead of 10th placed Pittsburgh.Â Definitely time to start worrying…
Andy Bathgate was also honoured at the game tonight, as his #9 was raised to the rafters.Â Congrats to both he and Howell on their illustrious Ranger careers!
Hopefully on Wednesday, the Rangers can get their revenge against the Leafs.Â Either way, it's good that at least this monumental collapse is being done via overtime and shootout losses, because otherwise the Rangers would already be looking up at the Leafs in the standings.
GAME QUOTES (FROM CANADIAN PRESS)
“It was an important goal and obviously an important point,” said Renney, who again heard fans call for him and general manager Glen Sather to be fired. “The fact that we got ourselves into that bind and got ourselves out of it is something to look at and build upon. It's pretty clear the team is not quitting. I think that's pretty important.”
“It is frustrating,” Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “You get close and then the other team ties it. You're looking at overtime and I'm just dreading getting into a shootout.”
“It was a tough loss,” Rangers captain ChrisÂ Drury said. “Toskala was playing well. We couldn't get anything by him. A couple of mistakes, and we lost in OT.”
“We played hard,” Renney said. “We outshot this team significantly, we made a couple of mistakes that are in our game right now that we're going to continue to try to rectify.
“We are going to keep playing hard and we're going to stay the course and go after wins.”
Til next time,
About the Author
Written by Dan Rakusan
A huge Rangers (NHL), Falcons (NFL), PGA Tour and soccer fan, I have been writing semi-professionally for about 7 years now. I try to impart information with some degree of humour, and always have an opinion. PSB is another feather in my cap, and am really proud of the team assembled here, and look forward to the long-term journey PSB is embarking on in terms of establishing itself as the best sports blogging collective on the net! Look for articles such as 4-Play, Rangers blogs and PGA Tour updates, along with my NFL handicapping service!