Playing their fifth game in seven nights (2-1-0-2) the Rangers committed nine penalties, six in the first period, falling to Ottawa last night 4-1. The Senators were 3-9 on the power play scoring two five on three goals in the first period. Ottawa fired twenty shots on goal in the first period and Lundqvist despite surrendering the two goals played very well in stopping 18 shots.
Overall Lundqvist made 28 saves and saw his record fall to 30-11-9. The Rangers though do have to be concerned that their record following the Olympics is .500, 6-6-1-3, which translates into 16 points out of a possible 32. Not good for a team going into the playoffs with high aspirations. They seem to be staggering.
The Rangers are tired. They look tired and are playing tired, how else to explain the nine penalties. Yes their were two brawls between Colton Orr and Brian McGrattan. Would you believe that Orr got all of two minutes of ice time and McGrattan all of 1:13 of ice time but yet they found each other twice. McGrattan got the best of Orr in the major fight and in the minor McGrattan wrestled Orr to the ice where he continued to punch away while Orr was laying on the ice. This is cheap shotting. Sandy McCarthy, who could go with the best of them always skated away when his opponent fell to the ice. There are fighters, we used to call them policeman, and there are goons. Put Brian McGrattan in the goon category.
When the Rangers weren't in the penalty box they seemed to play well, however, they were 0-6 on the power play. I believe the Rangers have only won three games all year without scoring a PP goal. In the hit department the Senators out hit the Rangers 32-25 with Chris Neal of Ottawa getting 9 hits. He also scored the first goal, a rebound on a five on three. Jaromir Jagr got an assist on Fedor Tyutin's goal to cut it to 2-1 and it looked like the Rangers would make a game of it. A Ozolinsh hooking penalty gave the Senators an opportunity in the second period and Dany Heatley cashed in for the backbreaker.
So here we are in the heat of a playoff run, one of the most exciting in years. The Rangers are three points away from clinching a playoff spot for the first time since 1997 and what do we get on the back pages of our New York tabloids? I discount the Daily News, I don't read it. Long Island's Newsday has more George Mason mania. Give me a break already. In the upper right hand corner it mentions the Rangers.
Then there is the New York Post. Across its back pages it advertises in big bold red letters: "The Best Sports (in black) In Town." What's on the back pages of the Post this morning? Those two paragons of virtue and integrity, Bud Selig and ex-Senator George Mitchell, who will investigate the baseball steroid problem. To it's credit the Post's headline reads, "Bud's Grand Sham." It seems the impartial Senator is: 1) Director of the Boston Red Sox; 2) Chairman of the Board of Disney, the parent company of ESPN, which is doing a reality series on Barry Bonds; 3) Chaired the Special Commission that investigated the Salt Lake City bribery scandal which Players Exec Director Donald Fehr served on. Sounds like the firebugs are on the fire commission.
Back to the New York Post and hockey. Today was the ultimate indignity and insult to Ranger fans and hockey fans. Last night's game was reported by the Associated Press. The Associated Press! The Post could not even spend a few bucks to send what we used to call a cub reporter to Ottawa.
And where is the NY Post's premier hockey writer, Larry Brooks? Where is the writer that the Hockey News calls the 89th most influential person in hockey? I'll tell you where Mr. Brooks is. Mr. Brooks is in Florida covering the Yankees and the Mets.
Wonderful! Here we have the most exciting hockey year since 1997 and the New York Post, "the Best Sports In Town," is out of town. But the New York Post has been out of town all year when it comes to the Rangers and hockey. Give us the daily soap operas of the Yankees, Mets and Knicks and their overpaid and under performing super stars, ad nauseum. Tell us how this is the year that A-Rod really does it all and brings a championship to the Yankees. How Marbury and Brown are going to kiss and make up and the Knicks will win it all. How the Mets will go all the way now that Anna Benson has been traded to Baltimore. Enough!
Tell us about how Jaromir Jagr and Henrik Lundqvist are casting their stars on the New York scene and how these Rangers have captured the hearts and the imaginations of at least the 18,200 who show up nightly and the few who watch them on TV.
ICINGS: Rangers have four days off before their biggest game of the year against the Flyers at the Garden Tuesday. The rumor has it that the Post will send Cindy Adams to cover the story. The Rangers have the last eight games in fifteen days to close out the season. Should be quite a finish. They need three points to clinch a playoff spot but the goal is an Atlantic Division title.
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