Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Blue(Shirts) In The Night

Blueshirts lose last game to Ottawa
So what can you say about a season that was supposed to be a bummer, experts picked us for 30th, and you wind up with 100 points and make the playoffs, finishing sixth? How do you blast a team for losing the last five games of a season and falling out of the Division lead on the last game of the season? You can't blast them and you wish them the best of luck in the playoffs. They are going to need all the luck to purge the ghosts of past Rangers failures and frustrations.

Renney made all the right moves last night. He reunited the Jagr, Nylander, Straka line. He reunited the HMO line and made them open the game which they did with a flourish. He benched Sandis Ozolinsh but unfortunately other Rangers defensemen played as careless as he has played. Plus the Prince was back and all would go right. Wrong.

Despite the giveaways and many odd man rushes the Rangers were only trailing 2-1 after two periods. But the house of cards collapsed as the giveaways continued as did the odd man rushes and Lundqvist seemed to tire. Had the Rangers put together this performance against either the Islanders or the Penguins they would be the Division Champs. Ottawa is too good a team to beat with less than a sixty minute effort.

Jagr tried and tried mightily. The one Ranger goal was through his effort chasing a puck, negating an icing and feeding a beautiful pass to Straka for the only goal for the Rangers. He finished with 123 points, two behind Joe Thornton, and with 54 goals, two behind Jonathan Cheechoo, also of San Jose. Unless all the Canadien sportswriters decide to unite behind Joe Thornton, Jaromir Jagr should be the MVP of the NHL.

It now remains to be seen what kind of effort the Rangers can mount against the Devils. The Devils are flying right now and Martin Brodeur besides having his game back also has his arrogance back. His hatred of the Rangers is well known and I'm sure the feeling is mutual. Of course the Rangers have had the last laugh on Brodeur, he has never beaten them in a playoff series. In three playoff series, 1991-92, 1993-94 and 1996-97 the Rangers have eliminated Martin Brodeur and his Devils from the playoffs. Will that streak continue?

The Rangers must pick up their game. The defense has to tighten and the offense has to come from others, not just Jagr. Petr Sykora seems to have disappeared these last few games and Petr Prucha since his return from an injury has not returned to the form that made him one of the leagues top rookies. Stay tuned for an interesting playoff war.

ICINGS: The Pundit received a pleasant surprise last night being one of the few fans chosen to go down to the ice at the end of the game and receiving one of the Rangers autographed jerseys. I got Michael Nylander's.

Ranger Pundit gets #92 from Michael NylanderI congratulated him on a good year, 23-56-79, and wished him success in the playoffs. The 56 assists and 79 total points are career highs. He signed the jersey to my seven-year-old grandson, Nicholas, who after he finishes his NHL career will take over the writing of this blog.

The Rangers final post Olympic record is 9-11-1-3, not good. We may well look back at the Olympics as our downfall as we were 10-1-1-0 going into the Olympics.

Update: One more reason to love Michael Nylander. Gabriel at just posted the 2005-06 Final NHL Shootout Leaders-

Michael Nylander is number 13th overall, contributing 0.75 wins above average to the Rangers total.

Martin Straka on the other hand is in the bottom 25.

Stats explained here.

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  • boom boom pundit said...

    Famous line: Other Than That, How Was The Play, Mrs. Lincoln?

    Other than the game, how cool is that to get a jersey, RangerPundit!

    What a terrible wimpering end to potentially great season. Hard to see how the Rangers can turn things around against NJ. Maybe the 3+days until Saturday's game helps cool them off.

  • mike said...

    To boom boom pundit-As my grandson said-Cool Grandpa cool! The way things went south so fast maybe they will return. Remember we still have Jagr and The Prince.

  • az-j said...

    Mike, love your blog. Been reading all season.

    About last night's game, don't you have to fault Renney for deciding to put 4 forwards out on the 4-on-3 power play. The second they lined up for the face off, I looked at alfredsson, and then straka and then told my mother, whom I was at the game with, "Uh oh. I don't like this at all." I wish I'd been wrong, but the Sens turned it into a short-handed goal and basically put the game out of reach. Renney has a knack for choosing the wrong moments in games to "go for it."

    Also, do you think tyutin can come back from his horrendous night? After giving up the turnover that led to Ottawa's first goal, he broke his stick in the corner and never seemed to rebound.

    I like the rangers in 7 in NJ, which is why I bought games 5 and 7 tickets this morning. Gotta love those jersey fans who can't sell out their arena for the playoffs.

  • mike said...

    To az-j Thanks for the kind words. You suffer when you don't have an offensive defensemen like a Leetch, so you go with 4 forwards. That was to be Ole Ozolinsh's job. Remember Tyutin is only 22 years old, he will be fine. Jersey and Islander fans hate us, their mngmt loves us. The only SRO's are when we are in town. You will get a refund on your game seven, its the Rangers in six.

  • Wes Putnam said...

    Doesn't it all boil down to Brodeur vs. Lindqvist? ESPN is showing 146 playoff games for MB vs. 0 for HL. Sure the Olympics should count as some playoff experience. If the Rangers have the playoff hex on MB then it might be 6. But you said Lindqvist looked tired in the 3rd, will his fitness be OK for this series? MB looks very strong.

  • mike said...

    Wes Putnam-Wes, OLN has the NHL and will be showing quite a few games, ESPN doesn't have an NHL contract. I think the Prince will be fine, remember he hadn't played in over two weeks. Also Brodeur is 0-3 against Rangers in playoffs. Rangers in six