Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wrong about Everything?

OK, I apologize for some predictions, but not for others.

I was wrong about Phoenix-Detroit, but I said I picked Phoenix "against my better judgement," and because I liked them more, and I said this would be a very close series that would be great for hockey, and it came down to a game 7, and it was absolutely a close, great series. I do not apologize for this prediction.

I was wrong about Kings-Canucks, but, like, not really. I think I said something about this being a series I couldn't care about, and I arbitrarily picked LA, cause something I can't quite place about Vancouver rubs me the wrong way. Vancouver came out and was a much better team, and absolutely should have won the series, and then did. Whatever.

I was wrong about Devils-Flyers, which I do feel bad about. It was painfully clear watching any 3 minutes of this series that the Devils were totally outclassed. The Flyers hit hard and beat the Devils to the puck in pretty much every game, even that one they lost. I regretted this pick almost immediately, and I do apologize for it. Man, it has never felt better to be wrong than to hear the Rock booing Kovalchuk every time he touched the puck, as the Devils lost their third consecutive first round at home.

And, then, there's that other series I got wrong. Look, it was clear to everyone after a few playoff games that the Caps were not, as I had claimed, going all the way. They did not, as they had to, remember how to play the physical, defensive hockey the Playoffs demand. They did not, really, even buckle down and work hard, a lot of the time. So, no, the Caps were not going to hoist the Cup this season, regardless of round 1's results.

However: even revising my claim that far, I would never have said they'd drop out this early. Even the limp, flat Capitals should have been able to use Ovechkin Power to beat the damn Habs. Halak was a huge difference-maker in the series, and that, combined with the Caps just plain not playing Playoff hockey, push the decision the other way, by one goal in Game 7. So it goes.

Go, um, Wings? Go Hawks? Go, uh, Bruins, I guess?

Fuck the Eastern Conference. Two great series coming up in the West. Watch them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On jumping in physically and taking "good" penalties

Looks like our coach might actually be in favor of it.

Silver linings, people!


Awooooooooooooooooooooo (sad, pained howl)

See you next year, Coyotes. I miss you already.

Man, I kinda miss the Coyotes, after the seven games I watched them play in, more than I missed the Rangers after 82 a few weeks ago. How sad is that?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

An Open Letter to Penguin Fans

Okay, that's already not fair of me. I don't really mean Penguin fans. The group I'm talking to is actually the totally overblown Ovechkin-haters out there. This group actually encompasses only about 85-90% of Penguin fans (based on very in-depth statistical sampling I've done, by thinking for 4 seconds about some people I know), and also a bunch of Canadian racists. In fact, the person who brought this to my attention happens to be a Penguin fan who also knows that Alex Ovechkin is pretty much exemplary of everything we, as fans, want hockey to be. So, sensible 10-15% of Penguin fans, I'm not really talking to you, and I'm sorry for calling you out like that.

Now, here's my point. The latest ridiculous bullshit people have decided to get angry at the best player in hockey for is this snow-shower thing. To hear you ridiculous people tell it, Ovechkin basically beat up on a child just because he was rooting for the other team. He skated over to a kid who was waving the Canadiens' flag, after the anthem, and gave him a snow shower, which some of you are actually now calling his "signature move".

Let's go to the video-tape.

Really, people? Here's what it looks like to me: it looks like Alex Ovechkin remembers that hockey is fun, and none of you fuckers do. This isn't a vicious dick move directed at a 10-year-old, you paranoid dinks. He's playfully spraying snow on a kid on his way to the bench. That's fucking awesome. That's having the presence of mind, despite being a visitor in Montréal for a playoff game, to go up to a little kid and go "hey, boo to your team, I work for the other team." That's fucking cute, you morons. It's not an attack. Seriously, what is wrong with you?

It's the same mentality we saw from you people about his goal celebrations. How dare he enjoy his 50th goal? He should show some more class than that. Real Canadian Gentleman don't celebrate goals like that. What is he, a pro wrestling footballman?

To you people, I say: go fuck yourselves. You know what makes hockey more like pro wrestling? This ridiculous march towards Heroes and Villains. This idea that the Pens are a "model franchise," and this pattern of suspending "villains" for no good reason and not suspending "heroes" even when they try to break people's heads in career-ending ways. When the NHL decides who is "good" and who is "bad," and then all the news stories and all the on-ice calls start to go in that direction, that's what makes the NHL into WWE.

What you people seem to keep missing is that despite all of your bullshit, what Alex Ovechkin is doing is enjoying hockey. Because hockey is fucking fun, and it's pretty bad-ass, too. When I was a kid, I sometimes went to Devils games with Devils fans. We didn't fucking brawl in the stands, but do you think we sat there and didn't interact with each other? Of course not! We gave each other shit! Because it's fun, and that's what you fucking do! It's good for hockey to build rivalries between teams, and it's fun to root for different teams than other people. That's why there are different teams!

Ovechkin goes up to a little kid who roots for the other team, and he sprays a little snow on him. That's playful and it's good for hockey. That kid now goes to school and is like "Alex Ovechkin sprayed snow on me! Boo! Go Habs!" And it's good for hockey. Get off your fucking high horses and, if you're not going to remember to keep some fun in hockey (before Bettman and his Model Franchise finish actually making it into WWE), then at least stop crying "douchebag" when the best player in hockey remembers to.

This is stupid. Go worry about something else, 85% of Penguin fans and also Canadian racists. Go, like, ride a bike down the Eliza Furnace Trail. It's beautiful out. Also, a lot of good hockey has been going on lately. Did you see Satan's double OT goal last night? Beautiful fucking stuff.

Let's Go Hockey,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ugh Fine Picks

I hate doing this, because it's kinda bullshit, and it puts me in serious danger of not being right about everything. But, the playoffs start in 4 hours, so let's do this.

1-8: Capitals vs Canadiens. Oh come on. There is absolutely nothing legal in this country or theirs that the Habs can do to beat the Caps right now. They have absolutely no tricks up their sleeve of the magnitude of the top four plus/minuses in the league (Schultz, Ovechkin, Green, Backstrom). Why are we even talking about this?

2-7 Devils vs Flyers. Headline a week and a half from now: Marty wins another playoff series, thinks he is responsible for it in any way. The Devils are 13-9-5 since acquiring Kovalchuk, who has yet to actually find solid footing in Jersey, and 4-2 in April. They don't have the cohesion to go far this year, but they can totally fight their way past a flagging Philadelphia team that seemed to give us absolutely everything they had in beating us into 9th in a shootout. If the 5-9-1 in their last 14 Flyers couldn't do more damage to us closing weekend, they're not getting past Jersey.

3-6 Sabres vs Bruins. Ooh, the Token Upset of the picks. See, it's not interesting to just pick the top seeds for every match, so you have to pick the underdog at least once (usually exactly once) per conference. This one's easy. The Sabres are frauds. The Bruins are a team just now getting its shit back together after a mid-season slump and injury extravaganza, just in time for the playoffs. They're getting hot, and while they were never as good as their finish last season, they were also never as bad as their finish this season. Meanwhile, the Sabres are a goalie. Even without Marc Savard, the Bruins have more scoring power than the Sabres do, and now that we're in the playoffs, having a Zdeno Chara in your back 6 in front of a totally competent goalie in Tuukka Rask does a lot more for you than Ryan Miller by himself. (Yes, yes, I know, Henrik Tallinder. To which I counter: Zdeno fucking Chara.) Good series, advantage Boston.

4-5 Penguins vs Senators. Ugh. Just ugh. Pens win. The Senators, like the Sabres, are frauds, and aren't nearly good enough to beat this team on even footing, and it won't be even footing with a Crosby-Ovechkin conference finals on the line.

Am I supposed to go on? Is that how this works? Fine. The following is even dumber, due to its dependency on other outcomes that haven't actually happened yet. 1-6 Capitals vs Bruins - again, I don't see what tricks Boston pulls out of its sleeves, even if Savard miraculously returns, to get past the Caps. Only way this happens is if the Caps get too bored of winning, forget they have to work hard to do it, and lose a couple early, then Savard returns and steals a couple. Not gonna happen. Advantage Caps. 2-4 Devils vs Penguins. The good news is only one of these teams advances. The bad news is at least one of these teams advances. Maybe this round could end in natural disaster? It's a good battle, but I'm thinking the mediocre Pens find enough ways to beat an aging Broduer and bottle up a confused Kovalchuk, and, with the help of a couple of calls, make it past the Devils. 1-4 Capitals vs Penguins? Fuck you, the Capitals win.

Please note that I do not claim that my Western Conference picks are in any way accurate. Screaming loudly tends to wake my girlfriend, so I don't watch that much late-night hockey, so I don't see the West as often as I see the East.

1-8 Sharks vs Avalanche. The Avalanche are kinda more exciting to watch, but that doesn't mean they're good enough to win. They had a solid season, despite finishing 8th, and a lot of bullshit experts will call them to win because "the Sharks can't win in the post-season." However, those people are forgetting that saying a team can't win in the post-season is a fucking asinine thing to say. The Sharks are a better team than the Avs, and should beat them.

2-7 Blackhawks vs Predators. Man, oh man, the Predators are a thoroughly mediocre hockey club. They have a couple of goal-scorers in Martin Erat and Dustin Boyd, a decent defensive corps (Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber), and no one terribly special in goal. The 'Hawks have Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith, Cristobal Huet, and something to prove. Sorry, Nashville.

3-6 Canucks vs Kings. GRAAAAAUCHGRLEH. That is the noise I make when trying to care about this series. I make this noise because I am under a lot of stress, you see, because it is so very hard to care about this series. I guess people like the Kings, because they made the playoffs, which they haven't done since 2002? I guess people think they're the upstarts who will then challenge the machine of the Canucks, with their magical hockey twins and their completely unreasonably paid goalie? Either team can absolutely win this series, so I'm gonna go with arbitrarily picking the Kings. Cause fuck the Canucks, right?

4-5 Coyotes vs Red Wings. Oh man, this is probably the best series of the first round. This is actually a thrilling team of young people who have learned to play great, exciting, simple hockey up against hockey's aging, powerful dynasty. This should be the fucking Stanley Cup Finals. Watch every game of this series. Y'all know I'm gunnin' for the 'Yotes, so I'm gonna pick them against my better judgement. Oh my god this is going to be good hockey.

And now, the least informed paragraph of bullshit. Look, ma, I'm a real sportswriter, making completely ridiculous predictions that sound good but are based on very little! 1-6 Sharks-Kings. Man, I have to have gotten 3 out of 4 right for this to even be a series. I still think "the Sharks can't win in the post-season" is total bullshit, and I don't think the mediocre Kings have an answer for the Gold medal-winning best line in hockey (Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Dany Heatley). Advantage San Jose. 2-4 Blackhawks-Coyotes. Again, I'm counting on a lot for this to even be a series. It will be another good one, since the Coyotes are kinda to this year's playoffs what the Hawks were to last year's. I think the 'Yotes have a shot here, but I think the 'Hawks have too much power for me to reasonably pick Phoenix. Rooting for the Coyotes, but likely choosing Chicago. 1-2 Sharks-Blackhawks. I think the 'Hawks pull this out: I think the Sharks get tired of winning so much, and I think Marian Hossa earns himself the right to lose his third straight Stanley Cup Finals, for his third different team.

Caps-'Hawks finals? First of all: awesome. Second of all: not terribly likely. Third of all: Caps win. Hossa continues to be the most embarrassed journeyman ever. Washington finally raises a banner. Ovechkin remains the best forward in hockey.

There you go. At the very least, most of my first-round picks might be right. Let's Go Hockey!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two things worth reading

First, to build off of everything I just said about Lundqvist, in a different light, perhaps it is worth mentioning that the entire mess the Rangers are in is Lundqvist's fault to begin with.

Second, one of Brooks's end-of-the-season wrap-ups lists eight things the Rangers should do to fix our sad-ass situation. Both columns sound pretty good to me.

Deserving Loss

And so it ends as it must. We don't get to steal a win without earning one, to slide our way into the playoffs on a bullshit shootout. Yes, it sucks that a playoff berth was decided based on a shootout, and yes, Bettman and his crew should be embarrassed by how excited they no doubt are that their team sport had a playoff picture come down to a gimmick. Yes, it's bullshit, and it needs to be removed (or, at least, the game should end in a tie, and the shootout should award an "extra point" that is used only as a tiebreaker in the standings).

But make no mistake: the Rangers were not the victims of that bullshit gimmick. We were not the good guys, who got robbed by a league that doesn't know what's good about its sport. Rather, the Rangers would have been the criminals had it gone the other way. Outmatched at every turn, for every puck, in every battle; outpaced, outshot, outhit, and out-everything-elsed by a Philadelphia team that seemed to be the only team present who knew it had something to play for, we were the team that scraped by, thanks to a goaltending performance that "kingly" doesn't even begin to cover. We were the team that somehow found ourselves in a skills competition with royalty in our corner and a third-string in theirs, and we were the team that was poised to steal a playoff spot from a team we did not deserve to beat.

A lot of people are talking now about why we lost the shootout on Sunday. Why Lundqvist couldn't stop two of three, why we could only get one of three past Boucher, why Torts didn't put Gaborik out there at all. These are stupid questions, as the shootout is a stupid exercise. Do not ask these questions, because they are stupid. We lost this game in 65 minutes of hockey, not in 3 rounds of stupid.

The Rangers were awful from start to finish. As Lundqvist said, "our fourth line was our best line the last few games. You know, they played great, but it's going to be tough to win two games against Philly when the fourth line is the best line." At no point did we look like we wanted to win this game. It somehow seemed like the entire 65 minutes, we were trying to steal one in a shootout.

Dubinsky "[couldn't] put [his] finger on it, but we were a little tentative. We've been playing must-win games for a while, so we should have approached it the same way, but in the end it was a Game 7, and nobody wanted to make a mistake."

Now is when we start to question that Tortorella mentality, boys and girls. A man we hired for his "safe is death" mentality has somehow bred a team that approaches the most important game of the season afraid to make a mistake. You know what happened after we lost to Boston three and a half weeks ago? We stopped having anything to lose. We stopped being afraid to make mistakes, because we were basically out of contention anyway. And we started playing good, attack hockey again. We took people to the boards, we knocked people to the ice, we sent pucks to the net. Just like at the beginning of the season, when we had nothing to lose and went 7-1, we closed the season 7-1-2 (in the 64 games between those records, only the Oilers had a worse record than we did).

Sunday, we were a scared team again. We had something to lose, and instead of "safe is death," we played "don't do anything crazy" hockey. Except the fourth line, of course, who was allowed to go and check people and take shots.

Interesting, that the line that didn't play it safe was the only line that produced anything at all, in a game we spent waiting to lose.

Asked about the overtime specifically, Erik Christensen shed a much more direct light on this mentality, revealing that "John even said, 'Don't totally sit back, but don't let it end here, because we have a big advantage in goal in the shootout.'"

Well, Torts, it worked. You asked your team to sit back, not make any mistakes, and ride Lundqvist's back into the shootout, and we largely did. We played a flaccid bullshit game of skate-around-the-rink, never grabbed the puck, put Lundqvist through the game of his life, and made it into the shootout. Just like you wanted. And then what happened? Hank?

"Going into the shootout, I was pretty beat up. I was dead tired. It was a tough, intense game, but I tried to focus and tried to be patient, but they made two good moves. The season is over, and it sucks."

Oops. Let's review. At the end of the Olympic break, we solved our backup goalie woes by acquiring veteran Alex Auld from waivers, snatching him up before the Stars could get their hands on him. Since then, we played our final 20 games of the season. Veteran Alex Auld, who did not participate in the Olympics, started one of them. Lundqvist, who led Team Sweden to 5th place in the Olympics, started 19. Coach Tortorella, who entered the season talking about playing Lundqvist less, just never saw fit to give him a rest.

Then, Sunday, the coach told his team to lay back and play for the tie, keep it safe, and have Henrik carry them across the finish line. Lundqvist had to play the game of his life to get us that far, and as it turns out, after that many consecutive starts, and after that much time on ice, and after making 46 saves on 47 shots over 65 minutes, hockey is still a team sport. And the team that was supposed to win this game - the team that had been winning it for 65 minutes already - couldn't be beaten by only one man.

So, coach. If you really, as you say, believe that Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the world (he certainly made a case for it Sunday, didn't he?), the question to you is this: doesn't a world-class talent like that deserve better? Doesn't he deserve a team in front of him that is making offensive attacks, or that is knocking people down in his crease (even if that means they take a penalty for it)? Doesn't he deserve a backup goalie that plays more than 1 in 20 games (or the equivalent of 4 games a year)?

Or, if that's not working for you, try this one: the "sit back and let Hank be a wizard" strategy doesn't work. Next season, can we go back to the "safe is death" plan? What have you got to lose? This killer 9th-place finish you've earned us?

Let's Go Coyotes!

Friday, April 9, 2010

I hate Lindy Ruff

Why, Lindy?? Why do you serve us up Ryan Miller, and then two days later give the Bruins Patrick Lalime? What gives, Lindy Ruff? Come on, man! Dick move!

You're a dick, Lindy Ruff.

And so, it comes to this. The Bruins earned another two points last night, bringing them that much closer to out of reach. Somehow, the Habs staved off clinching for another day, so they remain in our picture, which now looks like this:

6. Boston - 87, 2 GR (CAR, WSH)
7. Montréal - 87, 1 GR (TOR)
8. Philadelphia - 86, 2 GR (NYR, NYR)

We have the tiebreaker over the Bruins, but not the Canadiens, so the Canadiens need one point to be officially out of reach for us, while the Bruins need two. So this is the deal:

If we sweep the Flyers:
-We pass the Flyers if at least one of our wins was in regulation. If both games go to overtime, they stay ahead of us.
-We pass the Bruins if they manage to lose to both the Hurricanes and the Capitals, and they lose at least one of them in regulation. If they win one, or send both to overtime, they stay ahead of us.
-We pass the Canadiens if they lose to the Maple Leafs in regulation. If they send that game to overtime, they stay ahead of us.

If we win one and lose one in overtime against the Flyers:
-The Flyers stay ahead of us.
-We pass the Bruins if they manage to lose to both the Hurricanes and the Capitals in regulation. If they even send one of those games to overtime, they stay ahead of us.
-The Canadiens stay ahead of us.

If we do any worse than that:
-All three teams stay ahead of us.

That's how important every point is this weekend. Theoretically speaking, we can still fall anywhere from 6th to 9th, with a little help from some other teams. If we get no help at all from anyone but ourselves, but we win our two games in regulation, we still end up in 8th. So, tomorrow, we can talk about the Leafs and the 'Canes, but tonight, it's all about us.

In other news about tonight, rumor has it Jeff Carter is going to be a game-time decision for the Flyers tonight. That's not the best news for us. Just a heads-up.

Also tonight, being the last home game of the regular season, we'll be giving out the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award. Named after a season ticket-holding NYPD officer who was shot and relatedly paralyzed on the job (and who is still very much alive and attending Ranger games), this award has been given out annually since the '87-'88 season to the Ranger who best "goes above and beyond the call of duty." Any thoughts on who it goes to? Would you laugh if it were Brandon Prust? I'm betting it goes a second time to Lundqvist or Callahan. Or possibly to Prospal. Money's probably on Hank.

Oh my god it's basically the playoffs people. Let's Go Rangers!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bring on the Flyers

Back to playing a shitty team, the Rangers did exactly what we had to do last night: we won big and we got two points. It was fun to watch, and it felt like a good lead-in to this weekend. Understand, as Brooks put it, "The Maple Leafs provided no credible opposition, so it would be silly to infer too much. It's not as if the Blueshirts hammered the 2000 Devils, after all, or even the 2010 Flyers, for that matter." However, we did hammer the opponent we were given the opportunity to hammer, and that counts for something. In this case, it counts for two points.

We played an inspired first period, fell asleep at the first intermission, and woke up and responded when the Leafs eventually took advantage and made it 3-1. Not a ringing description of a strong contender, but enough. It wasn't enough to get us into the playoffs, yet, but it was absolutely everything we had the opportunity to do last night. Now, we look forward.

Oh hey, bee tee dubs, can we re-sign Brandon Prust, like, now? He's kinda the best. I am right about everything.

So, here it is. We earned ourselves the right to keep our destiny in our hands. Tomorrow night is Game 6 of our Round 0 Playoff series against the Flyers, and we're down 3 games to 2. It is time.

Also, root like hell for the Sabres tonight. If Boston can lose a couple for us, things might get nice.

This might be my number one worst blog post since I started this blog. I have provided virtually no information at all. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hey ma look at us now

We are the only team in the NHL currently not in a playoff position that can theoretically possibly get into one.


OK, I was wrong about the edge case described below. Atlanta still matters to us, but can't actually make the playoffs themselves. In the case I described, Atlanta wins out, Boston loses out in regulation, and we gain exactly 3 points to tie the two of them. I stated that in this case, Atlanta makes the playoffs. Actually, they definitely don't. In that case, for real: if we gained our 3 points by winning one and losing one in OT, we win the tiebreaker and get the spot. However, if we did it by losing three in OT, Atlanta will throw off the head-to-head tiebreaker we would normally have over the Bruins (and which the Bruins would have over the Thrashers and the Thrashers would have over us) and push us and Boston into a fight over goal differential. Which, right now, they lead us in by 1, +1-0.

Fascinating, almost certainly meaningless stuff, huh?

And Losing to Mediocre Ones

OK, I don't want to say last night was a bad game. Yes, we lost 5-2, the first time we've played a decent team in a while, but still: we're 4-1-2 in our last 7, gaining 10 of a possible 14 points. Despite losing 5-2, I thought we played a pretty decent hockey game, all things considered. Prust and Parenteau both scored (I am right about everything), and while it seems like we brought Callahan back too early, it's not like there's a rest-of-the-season to save him for, and it's not like we lost much by not giving Weise a chance. Ice time was very reasonably split (every forward but Shelley (9:29) and Voros (8:33) got between Prust's 11:57 and Prospal's 18:11), and we outshot them 32-20. Some days, the bear eats you.

The only thing I can really complain about is that once again, we started Lundqvist. Guess who's right about everything! It's this guy. Now, I'm not saying we would have won the game with Auld in. No one can make a claim like that. But our first two goals against were absolutely soft (the first was Lundqvist's signature bane, the space between him and his left post, and the second I feel like I could have stopped), and the third one, though probably screened, I imagine would have been stopped by Lundqvist 2 weeks ago.

What I am saying is that perhaps Lundqvist would have been sharper if Torts hadn't been asking him to carry the entire team all month. What I am saying is that perhaps Auld would not have let in those first two goals, given how rested he was. What I am saying is that perhaps Auld would have been sharper throughout the game (he was really fine as it was), had he been given the opportunity to warm up as a starter and start the game with his team. What I am saying is that perhaps Lundqvist would be in better shape for tonight, both mentally and physically, had he not had to start and then subsequently be pulled last night.


Anyway, given how well we'd been doing in the standings lately, it was easy to forget how big a deal one loss would be, from our "outside looking in" standpoint. Here's where things stand, as of this morning:

6. Montréal - 87, 2 GR
7. Philadelphia - 86, 2 GR
8. Boston - 85, 3 GR
10. Atlanta - 81, 2 GR

Yeah, doesn't look so good, does it? Let me break this down for you, math-style. There are three teams ahead of us that we can possibly theoretically pass, and they are in the final three playoff spots. Atlanta is also listed because there is a mathematical possibility that we could pass one of these three teams and yet still be passed by Atlanta and not make it. It's extremely unlikely, but it's there.

We have three games left: tonight against Toronto, and then a home-and-home with Philadelphia to end the season. Here's how our chances break down:

To pass the Canadiens in the standings, we would have to win our our remaining three games, and Montréal would have to lose out their remaining two (Carolina and Toronto), in regulation. If they gain a single point in either of those two games, we can't pass them even if we do win out. So, this isn't looking too likely.

With the Flyers, we actually do control our destiny. We will pass them if we win out the season, provided that at least one game of the home-and-home against them ends in regulation. We can also pass them if we push tonight's game to overtime but lose, if we then win both games against them in regulation. A regulation loss tonight, or any kind of loss to them later this week, would eliminate our chances of passing them.

Boston is the only team we could even theoretically pass without both gaining a point tonight and sweeping the home-and-home. But that wouldn't be terribly likely at that point: Boston is 3 points ahead of us. So, if they gain at least 4 points in their remaining three games (Buffalo, Carolina, Washington), we can't beat them no matter what. If they gain exactly 3 points in those games, we beat them if and only if we win out. And so on: if they gain 2, we need to gain 5; if they gain 1, we need to gain 4.

The reason Atlanta is still listed: if Boston loses out the season in regulation (hah!), the above would lead you to believe that if we gain only 3 points in our remaining three games, we would still make the playoffs. However, if this happens, and Atlanta wins out the season (Capitals and Penguins, so not the likeliest), they would actually leap-frog both us and Boston and end up in 8th.

So that's the full picture. But maybe that's too many words. Here's why tonight is being called a must-win for the Rangers. If we lose tonight in regulation, the following becomes our playoff picture:

-We cannot come in anything above 8th.
-For us to make the playoffs at all, Boston must gain no more than one point in their remaining three games. If they win a single one of those, or if they even send two of them to overtime, they eliminate us.
-Should Boston send even one of their three games to overtime, we will have to win both games against Philly to make it.
-Even if Boston totally loses out their season in regulation, we need to gain at least 3 of 4 points against Philly, and if we only gain 3, we need Atlanta to not win out their season.

That's basically elimination. Counting on Boston to gain no more than one point in three games against the Sabres, the Hurricanes, and the Capitals while fighting for their playoff lives is completely unreasonable. To reasonably expect to make the playoffs (and to maintain any hope at all of ending up above 8th, thus avoiding definite sweepage at the hands of the Caps), we must win out the season. That starts tonight, when the Leafs come to the Garden, at 7.

Let's Go Rangers!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Beating Shitty Teams

Zissen fucking Pesach, look what we've done. In our last 6 games, we're 5-0-1, earning (maybe that's a strong word) 11 out of a possible 12 points, beating such juggernauts as the Panthers, the Lightning, and the Islanders twice. Meanwhilesies, the teams immediately above us are as bad as we are. And so, somehow, here is where we stand going into tonight's Bruins-Caps game:

6. Montréal - 86, 3 GR
7. Boston - 84, 4 GR
8. Philadelphia - 84, 3 GR

So, in the next 3 days, we play Buffalo and Toronto, while the Flyers play Toronto as well. Then, we play the Flyers twice to end the season.

That'll be fun.

Meanwhile, up above us, the Canadiens only have to get through the Islanders, the 'Canes, and the Leafs, so they're in pretty good shape. The Bruins, however, have to play the Sabres, the 'Canes, and the Caps twice. This would be better news if the Caps hadn't already clinched the Presidents' Trophy, leaving them essentially nothing to play for in their two games against Boston. But still, it could be worse.

Somehow Alex Auld didn't get a start at all in Florida. That would be weird, if we assumed our coach didn't use fucked-up prefabricated ideas to determine his goalie "rotation." But hey: we play two nights in a row this week, and the second game is against the Leafs. That's got to be the night he finally plays Auld, right? Right??

Anyway, word is, so far, that Callahan and Avery and Boyle will all remain out of the lineup. Meanwhile, we've sent Locke back down to the minors and brought Weise?


Go Caps.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thursday Roundup

1. All you can do is win your games, and we won ours two nights ago, keeping pace with the Bruins, who beat the Devils, and the Thrashers, who beat the Leafs. We didn't play a particularly stellar game, but we did win it. Then, the Habs lost for us last night, so the picture looks like this:

6. Philly - 82, 6 GR
7. Boston - 82, 6 GR
8. Montréal - 82, 5 GR
9. Atlanta - 80, 5 GR
10. RANGERS - 78, 6 GR

2. Michal Rozsival is our best defenseman these days. That is not a comforting thing to say, but it is a fact. He's been totally solid. Sorry, Michal, you've totally lost your edge. Wade Redden continues to look like an asshole and lead directly to goals night in and night out, and you've been playing solidly for almost a month now. You're just no longer in the Albatross running. Thanks for competing.

3. Meanwhile, Vinnie Prospal has been playing better hockey lately. I've said repeatedly that if he comes as cheap as he did this season, I would absolutely re-sign him next year. The potential to see what we saw from him before his surgery is worth that, and it's been resurfacing some. That's awesome. Voros and Parenteau have both been fantastic, which makes me again wonder why they can't crack the lineup when people aren't injured. Torts always talks about Voros like this great guy who adds this whole new physical dimension to the game - it sounds a lot like he suffers from Renney-itis, where you talk about coaching decisions as if you're not the one who makes them. If Voros gets such a bad rap, maybe you should consider giving him a different one?

4. I want to make something clear, here. A few days ago, I posted a thing about how great Lundqvist is, and how blaming him for the loss in Toronto is missing the point. I want to be clear that this does not mean I am in Coach Tortorella's "play Hank no matter what" camp. Lundqvist has started way too much recently. We have played 14 hockey games in 29 days since we picked up Real Backup Alex Auld, and Auld has played zero seconds of hockey as a Ranger. Hank is clearly fatigued, he's carrying the team on his back, and it's stupid: if we can't beat one of these bottom-feeding teams we're playing with Auld in net, then what exactly do we think we're going to do in the playoffs? It's ridiculous, and the worst part is I think Torts is doing it for the wrong reasons. When your coach is asked about a goalie like Henrik Lundqvist, and his answer is "I love it that he gets pissed off when he makes a mistake, he's such a competitor," maybe someone is focusing on the wrong things. I sure hope making the right decision for the team outweighs rewarding a guy for being hard on himself. I sure hope I see Auld in net in Florida at some point this weekend.

5. Tonight is as big a night as it gets for us, without us actually playing any hockey (we next play, as alluded to above, tomorrow night and the following night, at the Bolts and the Cats, respectively). The Bruins are facing the Panthers, the Flyers are out on Long Island, and the Thrashers are in Washington, all at 7:00. That's a lot of points on the table for teams right in front of us. Tonight could put some nails in our coffin, and there's nothing we can do about it. So: Let's Go Caps, Let's Go Cats, and Potvin Sucks...I mean, um, Let's Go Islanders...I guess.

6. Finally, it's April Fools' Day, my favorite holiday-that-I-always-forget-to-actually-celebrate-in-any-way. As such, it is also The Internet Does a Bunch of Dumb Shit Day. Among this year's Dumb Shit, YouTube has announced a new resolution for super-low-bandwidth connections: TEXTp.