There is an adage in sports: play the game not to lose and chances are you will lose. The Rangers went into the third period at the Garden tonight leading 2-0 and for some reason tried to play rope-a-dope and it didn't work. The Thrashers outshot the Rangers 16-7 in the third period and took advantage of four careless Ranger penalties, the worst one being Darius Kasparaitis shooting the puck into the stands giving the Thrashers a 1:55 five on three power play. Kovalchuk tapped in a rebound shot to tie the score with :03 left on the penalty. They then won it in OT on a four on three power play goal by Marc Savard. Straka had been whistled off for a lazy holding the stick penalty right in front of the referee.
Make no mistake my friends, the Rangers are in a free fall and it only gets worse as they go to Carolina on Tuesday to play the Eastern Conference leaders, the Hurricanes. Jaromir Jagr who looked hurt late in the second period, possibly groin, played over twenty two minutes, scored his forty fourth goal, and led both teams with seven shots on goal. If he goes down for any time back up the truck and get the team out of town fast. The Ranger power play was 1-6 and the penalty kill was 6-6 until the penalty parade started late in the third period and continued into OT. How many times can a team shoot itself in the foot and expect to escape calamity?
Martin Rucinsky injured his knee at 2:46 of the third, taking an interference penalty. Jagr sat in the box for Rucinsky and Marty never returned to the game. So he may miss the next game or two. There were some odd moves by Renney. For some reason he sat a healthy Jed Ortmeyer to dress Colton Orr, who played all of 3:09, five shifts, administered two hits and spent most of the night glowering at Thrasher forward Eric Boulton, who glowered back. They almost came to blows once but Boulton didn't seem to want any part of Orr. Strange move by Renney. He sits Orr against the Flyers and Devils where he probably could have used him and plays him against the Thrashers for whatever reason only Mr. Renney knows.
As usual the Rangers were outhit. The hits were 17-9 in favor of Atlanta. Ryan Hollweg got two hits on the first shift of the game and then must have decided that his quota had been spent. Michal Rozsival, Steve Rucchin and Jason Strudwick had perfect nights. No shots and no hits. Darius Kasparaitis had one shot on goal and no hits. That's correct stat fans, no hits for Kaspy. With the exceptions of Jagr and Henrik Lundqvist the rest of the Rangers played like they would rather be watching the NCAA Selection Show.
The Rangers need new blood and a new direction from Renney and they need it fast. The Devils, the Canadiens, the Flyers and now the Thrashers are closing in on the Rangers. What was once unthinkable is now possible, missing the playoffs. How about we go down to Hartford and bring up Jarkko Immonen and Nigel Dawes and bring back Thomas Pock. It might get some life back into the team to know there is young blood waiting in the wings. Tom Renney constantly preaches about individual responsibility as it relates to the team concept. How about Tom Renney's responsibility to correcting this slide and correcting it fast. We cannot continue down the same path with the same non-performers, playing the same offensive perimeter game.
ICINGS: The Garden added a nice touch with tributes to Dana Reeve and Bernie 'Boom Boom' Geoffrion. They played a tape of Reeve singing the National Anthem and naturally it was interrupted by the jerks who insist on yelling out during its singing. The Ranger last 24 game watch score is now 1-3-1-1 and falling with tough Carolina coming up Tuesday.
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