Those were the words of Jaromir Jagr after the Rangers second straight 2-1 loss at the Garden last night, this one to the league leading Carolina Hurricanes. "They out smarted us", he added. Indeed they did. For the second straight game the Rangers got trapped into a frustrating, disappointing loss. They tried to rally in the third period by putting 17 shots on goal, scoring on a Steve Rucchin rebound with 16:32 left, but could not get the tying goal. Jagr tried with a ten footer with about 20 seconds left and the tried to bank one off of Martin Gerber's pads from behind the nets as time ran out but to no avail. Strong comeback, no cigar.
But where were the Rangers for the first two periods? In fact, where have the Rangers been since the Olympics? They were badly outplayed in the first period against the Flyers, saved by an excellent performance by Weekes. They were outplayed by the Devils for most of the first two periods and now last nights performance. Is this a pattern? Did the Olympics take too much out of them?
The goalies have been great. Lundqvist was given the number three star last night. Steve Rucchin was the number two star, scoring the Rangers only goal. He had seven shots on goal. Jagr had five, Nylander four and Straka three. Who was that masked man in goal? Ken Dryden? No it was Martin Gerber, buoyed by his Olympic performance, he was outstanding, making 37 saves to pick up his 30th win.
Where do the Blueshirts go from here? Some of the players looked tired. Straka looked like he was out of gas. Nylander came in on a breakaway and the goal seemed to get further away as he was getting closer. Does that make sense? He never got off a good shot as a penalty was called against Carolina. Strudwick took two holding penalties, a sign of weariness, slowness or both. Though he did block four shots. Poti, while blocking three shots was absent on the offense, so what else is new. As a reader opined, wouldn't Dale Purinton be an upgrade right now for these tired bodies? Marcel Hossa had no shots on goal but had two hits.
Give Renney credit though. He may have recognized the symptoms before the game and started the HMO line. They generated some enthusiasm and actually had some scoring chances. Hollweg led the hit parade with four and Ortmeyer and Moore each had two shots on goal. While the penalty killing was great, 7-7, the power play was 0-5. The Hurricanes zeroed in on Jagr and almost dared some other Ranger to score. Thomas Pock while playing tentative in the first period, showed some promise on the point, getting three shots on goal. However, he was way out of position on Justin Williams goal in the second period.
So what do we do? The trading deadline is Thursday at 3:00 PM. We need a stay at home guy who can take care of business in front of the net. Carolina's Kevyn Adams scored the first goal in front of Lundqvist with Tyutin and Kasparaitis watching and not laying a glove on him.
We could also use a puck carrying defenseman who can generate some offense and put a new wrinkle in the power play. How about Bryan McCabe of Toronto? McCabe, 31 years old, has 17 goals and 54 points in 51 games for the Maple Leafs and will be a free agent at the end of the year. He would be an upgrade for this year and the playoffs. We could start by offering Tom Poti and some draft picks. I don't know how much trade value Poti brings. What do you think?
On a personal note. I have another test scheduled for today. See what happens when you get old, the doctors use you for testing. Seriously, after the last procedure they found something else they want to look at. So we will do that today. On that note I would urge all of you around the age of 40 to start thinking about getting a colonoscopy and a PSA test. If you have anything, let them find it early. Trust me on this one I am an expert.
Since the Olympics the final 24 games countdown is 1-2-0-0 for the Rangers. Steve Rucchin, much maligned here, had a strong game. One goal, seven shots, one hit, two take-aways, one blocked shot and won eight of fourteen faceoffs. Rangers now head to Atlanta who is trying to fight their way into the playoffs. The Thrashers are three points behind the Canadians for the eight and final playoff spot. I doubt the Rangers will face the trap in this game but one never knows.
Less than two months ago on Jan 13th, in the story about Mark Messier's retirement ceremony, "And The Tears Flowed Like Wine" I wrote:
Messier had Dana Reeve, widow of Christopher Reeve belt out a tune called, "Now and Again" that brought the entire Garden to tears.
Sadly, Dana Reeve, age 44, died Monday night of lung cancer. Leaving behind a 13 year old son.