Monday, April 25, 2011

Good Season

Not a ton to say. Well, a ton to say, but not a ton to say that everyone else hasn't already said. Game 5 went the way it was supposed to, it was Game 4 that didn't. The series went the way we expected it to, it just didn't do so in exactly the way we expected it to. Did that make sense? We expected to lose the series, but no one could have predicted the way it happened. Like Game 5 in the series against Buffalo the second year after the lockout, Game 4 last week will stick in our memories as Ranger fans for a long time.

The Caps are the real deal this season, to be sure. On that note, Garden Faithful, while booing Boudreau was great and deserved, and "Can You Hear Us??" was the best Garden chant I've heard since my father told me stories about "Buy a Porsche, Hextall," could we stop booing Ovechkin so much? He's kinda great at hockey, and there's really nothing wrong with being kinda great at hockey.

Here's the point. A quick look at our season exits since the lockout (1st round, 2nd round, 2nd round, 1st round, no playoffs, 1st round) would have you believe that we're stagnating. But we're not. It's obvious that what all the sportswriters are saying is at least a little true: we're finally building a team the right way. And unlike after all our previous 1st-round-exit-after-squeaking-into-the-playoffs-in-the-last-week-of-the-season-after-a-great-March-runs, after this one, you have to feel good about the team's chances in years to come.'

More specific analysis to come, as I break down exactly what our current contract situation is for context in off-season discussions (and also a quick note on why everyone keeps saying "Redden" again), but a couple of honorable mentions should go out right now, to Ruslan Fedotenko and Marian Gaborik.

Feds, after a thoroughly mediocre season in which I often referred to him as the "marginal" or "average replacement" hockey player, shifted into a whole new gear for the playoffs. I don't know if he hit the "it's the Second Season and I'm a veteran" button or the "oh crap, my contract is up in as few as four games, I'd better start earning a new one" button, but all of a sudden he was everywhere, taking bodies, carrying the puck, and doing all the things you want your hockey players to do when they play the hockey. If he can be that guy all season, I want him back a lot.

Gabby, as I've said before, is the undeserving victim of a lot of Garden ire. It's hard to blame fans: we're very used to getting burned like this. We hire some guy who's supposed to be a scoring superstar, we pay him lots of money, he shows up, and he doesn't score all the goals we expect him to. Booooooo, run him out of town. In the past (Bobby Holik, Eric Lindros, Theoren Fleury, Petr Nedved, I don't have to keep going, right?), that's been the right reaction. But Gaborik is the real deal, and he has continued to show it this season as well.

He's not a washed-up veteran - he's a 29-year-old in the prime of his career, and he remains one of the fastest skaters in the league. He came from the Wild, where Jacques Lemaire stifled all offense, to New York, where he was excited to play in a "safe is death" environment. In the first season of his 5-season deal with us, he put up 42 goals and 44 assists. As Tortorella transitioned us into a "defense-first, and the offense will come," Gaborik's production understandably dropped. However, despite the new environment, despite being saddled with a rotating cast of linemates that never settled down, even in the playoffs, and despite being out with injuries for almost a quarter of the season, he still netted 22 goals and 26 assists, good for second among Rangers (6 points behind Brandon Dubinsky, who played 15 more games, had an extra 2:08 per game, and finished with 100 penalty minutes to Gaborik's 18 and as a -2 to Gaborik's +8).

What's that? Gaborik finished the season +8? Despite being acquired exclusively for his speed, and on a club where the coach preaches defensive responsibility first? Yes, he is talented enough to totally change his game style to fit his coach's demands, be really good at it, and still put up very good numbers. His +8 ties him with Derek Stepan and puts him 1 behind Ruslan Fedotenko's +9, putting Gaborik second among all Ranger forwards.

Anyway, this post wasn't supposed to The Case For Gaborik, this is just some stuff that is true that you should know. The point was that as Ranger fans we have a lot of reasons to be very excited about seasons to come. I'll be getting into our specific contracts soon.

Meanwhile, there's a lot of hockey left to watch. As for predictions: in the East, I expected Buffalo to pull it out last night. Now they didn't, Pronger's back, and they're going back to Philly for Game 7. If Buffalo wins that game, the series is Caps-Sabres, and the Sabres are screwed. Meanwhile, even if Tampa pulls out Game 6 tonight, there's no way they come back to Pittsburgh and win a Game 7. As for Boston-Montréal, it could still go either way, but I imagine Pittsburgh beating either victor. If Philly beats Buffalo tomorrow (assuming I'm right about Pens-Bolts), we get either Caps-Habs and Flyers-Pens or Caps-Pens and Flyers-Bruins. If it's the former, I figure Pittsburgh and Washington both win. So, in conclusion, the only way the Eastern Conference Finals don't come down to Caps vs Pens is if they meet in the semis because the Flyers and Bruins both win their series. Winner: HBO.

In the West, I really will be pulling for the thoroughly likeable defending Cup champion Blackhawks to win Game 7 in Vancouver tomorrow, pulling off the unthinkable upset of the President-Trophy-winners-by-a-mile after going down 3-0 in the series, but I just can't imagine it happening. Vancouver's really good. Either way, it's a defining moment for some hockey team. Watch this game tomorrow night. That leaves Sharks-Kings as the only question. Could still go either way. If the Sharks win, we get Canucks-Preds and Wings-Sharks, which I think gives us Canucks-Wings in the conference finals. If the Kings win, we get Canucks-Kings and Wings-Preds, which... again probably gives us Canucks-Wings. Winner: hockey fans.

The point is: there are a lot of really good hockey teams left in the playoffs this year, in both conferences. So, go watch a lot of hockey.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Washington Leads 2-1

Here are seven assorted thoughts of mine about this series, as it currently stands (three games in, with the Caps taking the first two at home and the Rangers so far keeping serve as well).

1. I thought we played better in game two than we did in game one, despite being a lot less close to winning. In game one, we only played about 30 good minutes out of 80. In game two, more like 45 out of 60. Still not enough, since we gave up two goals in 5. But still, just a thought.

2. From the "right about everything" files, we take another quick look at Sean Avery's impact. In both games two and three, Avery reestablished himself as one of the only Rangers who consistently forechecks. Sure, he can't score goals, but right now, neither can anyone else. What he can do is create chances by pushing the puck deep and always skating quickly, even when the rest of his team is gliding around.

Even Torts seemed to finally be catching on, rewarding Sean with 10:22 of ice time in game 2 (more than Wolski or Drury, and within 45 seconds (1 shift) of Anisimov and Prust). But in game 3, Avery was just as effective despite being limited to 8:45. There's a part of me that says I should trust that decision, since we lost game 2 and won game 3, but watching these guys play, Avery deserves more time.

One more note on Avery: go read what this guy of Blue Line Station says about him. This is what I'm always saying: yes, he's a pest, but he's not a good, and he's really good at being a pest. The case this guy makes is for Sean Avery as the Ferris Bueller of hockey. I'm on board.

3. I need to lay off of Erik Christensen. Yeah, he's soft. A strong gust of wind will take him off his game. But at least he shoots, and he shoots well when he does. Anisimov and Wolski are just as soft, and they don't make up for it by having a powerful shot that they're willing to take, ever. Christensen is like the anti-Avery: he's soft, he doesn't take the body, he rarely forechecks, and he can't keep possession if you grimace at him hard enough; but, he has great hands. I think Avery and Christensen complement each other rather well, if the latter can keep his big mouth shut.

4. Speaking of people I need to lay off of, year-long mediocre presence Ruslan Fedotenko has shown me over the last three games that maybe having a veteran presence down the stretch is all it's cracked up to be. He has been consistently great, after a regular season of being passable. There's not a Ranger who has stepped up his game for the playoffs more than he has. Kudos to you, Ruslan Fedotenko, right now you do not stenko at all.

5. Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but do we really have the only coach in all of professional sports who just doesn't believe in lines? Like, at all?

6. In case there was anyone out there whining about the calls, you're wrong. Yes, the Caps' tying goal in game one was on a play they could have stood to blow the whistle on. They didn't. To me, that only comes up again because in game three, there were a couple of times they did blow the whistle way sooner than that, in front of Neuvirth. Whatever. As for the no-goal in game 3, despite NBC's embarrassing inability to show us a useful replay, the refs made the right call. The official game clock (which is not the NBC clock, people) hit zero before the puck crossed the line. If anything, the Caps got hosed yesterday afternoon, by a number of calls against them that were questionable at best.

Note: this does not excuse Bruce Boudreau from running his big, fat mouth off. Ranger fans, go to game four. Start "Fuck Bruce Boudreau" chants. Loudly and often. Please, please, show this dingleberry (whose fan base, it's worth noting, materialized in 2006 composed mostly rich suits who are bored with the Wizards and have never heard of Peter Bondra) some reasons to really hate the Garden.

7. Speaking of things Ranger fans should stop complaining about, Marian Gaborik. He hasn't scored goals, this is true. But he has created far more scoring chances than most of his coworkers lately. Let's play a game, in which we draw comparisons to fan-favorite and awful-mustache-haver Brandon Dubinsky. Dubinsky has, up until scoring the very bizarre game-winner Sunday afternoon, been largely invisible this series. Meanwhile, Gaborik has had fans screaming "how did he not put that in?" a few times a game.

Oh my god you guys, if one forward is coming really, really close to scoring all the time, and another one is doing bupkus until he has a bizarre bounce go his way, don't run the first one out of town! Your hockey team will get worse if you do that!

Also, let's talk about defensive responsibility. Look. We're a club that wins by not allowing goals, rather than by scoring them, a club whose motto has become "play smart defense and the goals will come." Marian Gaborik may be the fastest skater in the NHL, and he's got a crazy-fast shot. He was brought to New York expecting a system of "safe is death," and he prospered under it last season. As we've become a more defensive club, Gabby has completely changed his game: blocking shots, back-checking, and generally being in the right place at the right time to stop a play from developing. Watch him over the last three games: other than Drury and Boyle, he's probably been our most defensively responsible forward!

So, Gabby's had among our best scoring chances of the series, though he hasn't put one in, and he's been among our most defensively responsible forwards, despite absolutely not being that kind of player. Remind me, again, why we're all getting on his case?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Game One: Washington Leads 1-0

So, it's kinda hard to get too angry about last night's game. We came into the home of a team that is much better at hockey than we are, missing our best forward. The home team had absolutely everything to prove against us, and at home in Game One against an 8-seed. We played our game as well as we could, the officials stayed the hell out of the way, and we completely held our own. After an almost 80-minute battle, they eventually broke through and scored the tiebreaker. You want it to go the other way, but you can't be super-angry about it.

Yes, the Caps outplayed us for large portions of the game, increasing as time went on. But all that time of possession they had didn't really translate into all that many fantastic scoring chances, and when it did, our defensemen or goalie generally came up big. Guess what, guys: that's how it's gonna go. That's how we're gonna win these games, if we win them. Last night, it's how we lost one. But we still played the only type of game we're gonna win against these guys. If you're asking why Marian Gaborik didn't score 4 goals, and why we didn't beat them 8-1, then you're asking the wrong questions.

Here's an interesting line of questions, though. Did we, over time in overtime, start to look more and more tired, and did that eventually contribute to our giving up the game-winner at the end of the first OT?

I want to give credit where credit is due, here, first: I'm a huge supporter of coach John Tortorella, I think he's done a fantastic job rebuilding this team in the right way since he's taken the helm, and I imagine he may be under consideration for this year's Jack Adams Award. I also largely agree with a point he made in an interview the other day, that the media generally gives coaches too much shit when a team plays badly and too much credit when a team plays well. In the NHL, as they say, many coaches are "hired to be fired."

Now, with that said, there are some things that the coaches do control, and that they should rightly be held accountable for. Let's make a bold assumption, that the Rangers' fate could have been different last night if they hadn't been so damn exhausted by the end of the OT period. One could certainly argue that fatigue was not a factor last night, but I think it was. I think that regularly good Rangers just didn't have it in them anymore, and throughout the OT, Caps' possession time kept on increasing, until it was hard not to see the game-winner coming.

If that was the problem, we have to ask why. The Caps had played exactly as long a game as the Rangers had, why didn't they get as tired? One possible explanation is conditioning, but I don't buy it. Players have often identified Torts's training regimen, starting at training camp, as the hardest they've experienced in the pros. Alex Ovechkin aside, I find it highly unlikely that the Capitals are just more in-shape than the Rangers.

Outside of this run-on sentence, I will spare you my opinions (which you already know) on how I think a guy like Sean Avery (a healthy scratch yet again) might have been a difference-maker in a physical, 80-minute hockey game that the Rangers got too fatigued to win, as opposed to Mats Zuccarello's seven minutes and thirty-four seconds of forgettable ice time; but it's worth noting that that healthy scratches are a coaching decision.

The most obvious thing to blame here is Torts's propensity to lean on his top guys inordinately. Understand: he's absolutely right about who those top guys are. It's very hard to argue with the theory that, in an overtime period in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I'd rather have Marc Staal on the ice than Matt Gilroy; I'd rather Brandon Dubinsky than Erik Christensen. But that doesn't mean you can lean exclusively on those guys you'd prefer, all game long, every game. That starts to take its toll, especially in, as Joe Beninati called them last night, "grownup overtimes."

Last night, John Erskine got the least ice time of all Caps defensemen, with 18:44. After that, the Washington D's ice time ranged from 23:42 to 28:39. Meanwhile, even if you throw out outlier Matt Gilroy (who got 16:22, almost two-and-a-half minutes less than Erskine), the Rangers' D ranged from 20:08 to 33:14.

In fact, if you don't include John Erskine, the average Capital defenseman deviated from the average defensive ice time of his team by only 1:53. Even including Erskine, that figure is only 2:39. Meanwhile, even without Gilroy, the average Ranger defenseman deviated from his team's average defensive ice time by 4:14. Including Gilroy, by 5:08.

Which of these teams is the one that wins "by committee," again?

Look, even in a game like last night's, you obviously want to give more ice time to your better guys. I'm not suggesting McCabe's 20:08 should have been as high as Staal's 33:14. Staal is great at stopping other people from scoring goals, so you want him to spend as much time as possible doing that. But maybe a little more balance among the ranks would have led to a little less fatigue down the stretch, and maybe that would have helped.

Or maybe not. Maybe if we'd played McCabe and Gilroy a little more last night, we would have given up the tie-breaker even sooner, because one of them would have done something stupid. It's just something to think about. Anyway, buckle in - if last night's game was any indication, the Rangers are here to play this series for real, and we can expect some more hockey games that look a lot like Game One did. Tomorrow night, we have the chance to even the series and win back home ice. One game at a time; Let's Go Rangers!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Here. We. Go.

It's not worth reminding you that this is a better Capitals team than the one we faced in the first round two season ago; it's a better Rangers team, too, even with the Alternate Captain whose jersey I'm currently wearing sidelined with a broken ankle. However, it's worth noting that this is also a much better Capitals team than the one we lit up for a cumulative 15-1 over our three most recent meetings.

They've spent the last little while building up a defensive system that's less Mike Green and more John Erskine, and it's been working: since we most recently beat them by a touchdown, they have allowed a total of 37 goals through the final 20 games of the regular season (basic arithmetic tells us that's 1.85 goals per game). If they can reconcile that with letting this Alexander Whatever-his-name-is guy loose, it's going to be very hard to beat them.

Here's a pretty obvious sportswriter-type thing to say: the two questions surrounding this series are whether or not the Rangers will be able to score goals against the Capitals and whether or not the Capitals will be able to score goals against the Rangers. But here's what I mean: we know the Caps can score, dangerously quickly. We know Henrik Lundqvist can rob dangerously good goal-scorers of their dangerous goals. Question 1 will be who wins the Ovechkin vs. Lundqvist battle (this battle also includes Backstrom vs. Staal, and so on).

Question 2, on the other end of the ice (at any given time), is whether or not the Capitals' newfound ability to slow the game down and block shots will be able to overcome the Black-and-Blueshirts goal-scoring strategy of going hard to the net and getting that fifth deflection. If the Rangers play the kind of great, grinding hockey they're capable of, even without Cally, this will be a fantastic series. Two totally different styles of play complementing each other at opposite ends of the ice. In the Rangers' end, skill vs. skill, and in the Caps' end, toughness vs. toughness. On the other hand, if the Rangers fall flat early, this series could be over before you have time to say "Potvin Sucks!"

8 hours until Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins. How am I going to focus enough to get any work done today?

Monday, April 11, 2011

You had to see this coming

The number after the team name in parentheses is goal differential for the season.

The Actual Playoff Picture
1. Washington (+27) - 107
2. Philadelphia (+36) - 106
3. Boston (+51) - 103
4. Pittsburgh (+39) - 106
5. Tampa Bay (+7) - 103
6. Montréal (+7) - 96
7. Buffalo (+16) - 96
8. New York Rangers (+35) - 93

1. Vancouver (+77) - 117
2. San Jose (+35) - 105
3. Detroit (+20) - 104
4. Anaheim (+4) - 99
5. Nashville (+25) - 99
6. Phoenix (+5) - 99
7. Los Angeles (+21) - 98
8. Chicago (+33) - 97

The Old-School-Style Playoff Picture
1. Philadelphia (+36) - 98
2. Washington (+27) - 97
3. Boston (+51) - 96
4. Tampa Bay (+7) - 92
5. Pittsburgh (+39) - 91
6. Montréal (+7) - 88
7. New York Rangers (+35) - 82
8. Buffalo (+16) - 82

1. Vancouver (+77) - 109
2. San Jose (+35) - 96
3. Detroit (+20) - 94
4. Anaheim (+4) - 92
5. Chicago (+33) - 87
6. Phoenix (+5) - 87
7. Nashville (+25) - 86
8. Dallas (-6) - 86

The Soccer-Style Playoff Picture
1. Philadelphia (+36) - 147
2. Boston (+51) - 146
3. Washington (+27) - 141
4. Pittsburgh (+39) - 140
5. Tampa Bay (+7) - 135
6. Montréal (+7) - 132
7. New York Rangers (+35) - 125
8. Buffalo (+16) - 124

1. Vancouver (+77) - 163
2. San Jose (+35) - 143
3. Detroit (+20) - 138
4. Nashville (+25) - 135
5. Phoenix (+5) - 135
6. Anaheim (+4) - 133
7. Los Angeles (+21) - 133
8. Chicago (+33) - 131

Some initial scattered thoughts:
---No matter what you do, Vancouver is better than you.
---Weird that the old-school system actually admits a team with a negative goal differential, in Dallas replacing the Kings.
---Both new systems make ties in points in the standings less common (although that seems counter-intuitive in the old-school system).
---Without the artificial "division-winners take the top three spots" rule, in both the old-school-style and soccer-style systems, the three division-winners ended up in the top three spots, in both conferences. In the current system, the rule was needed to place Boston ahead of Pittsburgh.
---The West really is that much better than the East.
---Other than that one substitution (Dallas for LA), both systems give us the same playoff teams as the current system this season.
---I'm thinking that the current system doesn't necessarily give you the wrong playoff teams and matchups, it just adds more randomness into the system, so you might get the wrong teams and matchups. The current system brings teams that are close in the standings even closer than they should be. It looks like this season, hockey got lucky. What I'm saying is that the teams that made it by a hair this season would have made it by a few more hairs using these other systems.

Sunday, April 10, 2011



That is all.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Well, that sucked

How many times can we fail to score in empty nets? What a mess.

So here's the situation. We now need a little help from either the Thrashers or Tampa Bay (or both the Flyers and the Blue Jackets). Here's the playoff bubble picture, with 1-2 games left:

7. Buffalo - 92 pts, 2 GR
8. NEW YORK RANGERS - 91 pts, 1 GR
9. Carolina - 89 pts, 2 GR

And we're back to the last game of the regular season having playoff implications. Surprise, surprise. Here's how it breaks down for our game against the Devils on Saturday afternoon:

If we lose to the Devils in regulation: If the Hurricanes gain 2 or more points in their final two games of the season (tomorrow night against the same Thrashers that will be tired from beating our asses tonight, and Saturday night against the Lightning), we finish in 9th, out of the playoffs. If they gain 0 or 1 points in those two games, we still finish in 8th.

If we lose to the Devils in OT or a shootout: If the Hurricanes gain 3 or more points in their final two games of the season, we finish in 9th. If they gain 2 or fewer in those two games, we finish in 8th.

If we beat the Devils in a shootout: We want the following two things to happen:
a) The Hurricanes do not win both of their final two games.
b) The Sabres lose both of their final two games in regulation (tomorrow night against the Flyers and Saturday night against the Blue Jackets).
If both of these things happen, we finish in 7th; if exactly one happens, we finish in 8th; and if neither happens, we finish in 9th.

If we beat the Devils in regulation or OT: We want the following two things to happen:
a) The Hurricanes do not win both of their final two games, or they do but both wins are in the shootout.
b) The Sabres lose both of their final two games in regulation.
Again, if both of these things happen, we finish in 7th; if exactly one happens, we finish in 8th; and if neither happens, we finish in 9th.

There's the simplified breakdown for ya. Good night.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Oh no, not now, no no no

This is the worst.

Can't I just spend 24 fucking hours really excited about my hockey team??


Here, let me explain

OK, before we get into it, how about a big old FUCK YEAH RANGERS after last night's win. Fuck. Yeah. Rangers.

So, I wasn't gonna post this since it changes every damn day, but then I got some questions about it, so here's the total situation as it stands right now. Our final two games are Thursday night against Atlanta and Saturday afternoon against the Devils.

6. Montréal - 91 pts, 3 GR
7. NEW YORK RANGERS - 91 pts, 2 GR
8. Buffalo - 90 pts, 3 GR
9. Carolina - 87 pts, 3 GR

(Yes, Toronto could still technically make the playoffs, if they win out and Buffalo loses out, but they can't pass us, so I don't care. We're ending up somewhere between 6th and 9th.)

So, here is the situation, by team, of how we end up ahead of or behind them in the standings. What we absolutely must do to make the playoffs, of course, is finish ahead of at least one of these three teams. If we finish ahead of two, we end up in 7th, and if we finish ahead of all three, we end up in 6th. Naturally.

The Canadiens: Tied in points with us, with a game-in-hand. To beat them, we absolutely must be ahead of them in points, which means we must gain more points in our final two games than they do in their final three. Those games are tonight against the Blackhawks, Thursday night against the Senators, and Saturday night against the Maple Leafs. So, if they gain at least 4 points in those three games, we can't pass them. If they gain 3, we have to win out; if they gain 2, we have to gain 3; and so on. If we lose out, obviously, they stay ahead of us.

The Sabres: A point behind us, with a game-in-hand. To stay ahead of them, we almost certainly must be ahead of them in points, which means we must gain at least as many points in our final two games as they do in their final three. Their final three games are tonight against the Lightning, Friday night against the Flyers, and Saturday night against the Blue Jackets. So, if they gain 4 points in those three games, we'd have to win out; if they gain 3 points in those three games, we'd have to gain 3 points in our two games; and so on. If we lose out, they'd have to lose out as well. However, there is one exception in which we have the tiebreaker: if the Sabres gain 5 points in their next 3 games, and we win out, we end tied in points, which usually means the Sabres win the tiebreaker. However, in that particular scenario, if both of our wins were in regulation or overtime, and both of Buffalo's wins were in the shootout, then we win the tiebreaker over them. Unlikely, but still plausible. Failing that scenario, we have to end ahead of them in points.

The Hurricanes: This is the only team over whom we actually control our own destiny. Four points behind us with a game-in-hand, this is the team about whom we can say that if we win out, we will definitely finish ahead of them. In fact, if we gain 3 points in our final two games, they can't possibly catch us. Down from there, they can. If we only gain 2 points in our final two games, by winning a game in regulation or overtime, we stay ahead of them unless they win out the season and at least two of their wins are in regulation or overtime. If we gain 2 points in our final two games without a win in regulation or overtime (a shootout win and a loss, or two overtime losses), we stay ahead of them unless they win out the season and at least one of those three wins is in regulation or OT.

If we gain only one point in our final two games of the season, Carolina beats us if they win out. They also beat us if they gain 5 of a possible 6 points in their final three games, provided that at least one of their 2 wins was in regulation or OT. Even if we lose out our final two games, Carolina needs to get 5 of a possible 6 points to beat us for sure. If they get 4 of 6, they beat us provided that those 4 points included at least one regulation or overtime win. If all 4 points are from shootouts and overtime losses, we get the playoff spot anyway. The Hurricanes' final three games are tomorrow night against the Red Wings, Friday night against the Thrashers, and Saturday night against the Lightning.

So, there's 100% of the standings situation for us, in way more detail than you wanted. Let's Go Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Senators, Flyers, Lightning, and Maple Leafs. And Let's Go Thrashers on Friday night, but not on Thursday night. And, of course, Let's Go Rangers.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Yes, that

Hey, look: Larry Brooks agrees with me.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools?

No other corroborating sources I could find (yet), but I can't imagine he'd be joking: Andrew Gross tweets that we've reassigned Zuccarello to Connecticut. Not that surprising, he was definitely on the list (along with Christensen, Wolski, and Avery) of rotating scratches, and it makes sense to pick a lineup and stick with it down the stretch. Zucc hadn't been performing that well, even back when we were winning games (it seems so long ago...). Anyway, there's some news. Probably.

EDIT: Confirmed, on the AHL transaction list.


And then, after coming out about as flat as I've seen us all season two nights ago, we continued to not get up for last night's game, against the goddamn Islanders, no less. Awful efforts from everyone. Hank was pulled after two just to get him out of there, not that anything was his fault, but now all of a sudden everything's a must-win and I'm afraid last night's 20 minutes are gonna be the last of his rest for the season. Brian Boyle made more stupid passes in the last two games than he had in the previous rest of the season combined. 0-for-7, was it, on the power play? How about a minute of 5-on-3 in which the point men are Christensen and Zuccarello? Turns out: they just play catch with each other at the blue line for a while.

For the second night in a row, we just didn't get to where we wanted to be as quickly as we wanted to be there. Even Callahan and Gaborik (who were still the best forwards on the ice, for what it's worth) were a step behind. This was not the two games we needed this week, for a final playoff push.

So, here's where things stand:

6. Montréal - 89 pts, 4 GR
7. Buffalo - 87 pts, 5 GR
8. NEW YORK RANGERS - 87 pts, 4 GR
9. Carolina - 84 pts, 5 GR

Oops! That happened! So, if we assume that Buffalo and Carolina win their games-in-hand just for a minute, we end up sitting in 8th, with two teams tied for 6th two points ahead of us, and with Carolina only one point behind, with four games to go in the season.

As Steve Zipay tweeted, there are "no games on today's NHL schedule that affect [the] Rangers' status of backing out of [the] playoffs." However, tomorrow, we've got Montréal at New Jersey, Carolina on Long Island, and Buffalo at Washington. Maybe some teams will do us some favors? Looks like it's back to that same old end-of-the-season dance we do. We have to root for the Devils and the Islanders tomorrow night! Fuck that!