Sunday, December 23, 2007

Rangers Watch: OTT 3, NYR 1

What's worse than a seven year playoff draught? Watching a team that should succeed be outworked repeatedly. If I could give the Rangers one thing for Christmas, it would be heart.

Yeah, there's a couple players with regular shifts who give it every night, most notably Marty Straka and Sean Avery. Dynamic opposites in terms of how they approach the game, but both play with energy every shift. But even the return of Avery couldn't lift New York out of its funk. If Jaromir Jagr and, yes, Brendan Shanahan don't skate all out on both ends of the ice, this is the exactly the result I would expect. Can you imagine if all that talent played all out for 60 minutes?

Yeah, the Rangers out shot the Senators, but do you remember any quality chances? Martin Gerber didn't need to be spectacular to win that game. Henrik Lundqvist, on the other hand, had to come up big - stoning Ottawa on a least two breakaways - to keep the Blueshirts in it. When was the last time New York had an odd-man rush, let alone broke a man loose? Instead, they play a puck control game which slowly moves the puck up, allowing their foe time to set up a neutral zone trap.

I don't know what's worse, the lack of heart or the coaching staff's inability to arm its players with a system they can execute successfully. And quotes like this, after losing to the Avalanche and Wild, don't help:
"I think we still had a bit of a taste in our mouths from last night," coach Tom Renney said after the Rangers' first game in Denver in more than four years. "I liked our team effort after that tough one last night."

- Newsday

At times it seems only the fans expect better. Sing with me, Tom:
Just to register emotion, jealousy - devotion,
And really feel the part.
I could stay young and chipper
and I'd lock it with a zipper,
If I only had a heart.
Recaps: Y!/AP



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