The roar that greeted the announcement of Jaromir Jagr in the starting lineup was ear tingling. It had followed the roar of the crowd as the team hit the ice and the roar following the National Anthem.
Then came the groan and the silence as Sandis Ozolinsh was trapped and Tom Poti misplayed a two on one. Bingo. Goal! Game! The silence was deafening. Jagr later remarked in the dressing room, "We have to learn how to play a two on one." We don't know how. You leave the shooter to the goalie. Oh well, one more game to figure it out.
Watching the replay in the early minutes Sam and JD remarked that the coaching staff didn't want to hear Ozolinsh being booed last night. Well there is one way to stop it. Don't play him. Hasn't Renney seen enough of this? We got him for offense, especially on the PP, but our defense has gone south since he showed up. Plus he is paired with Tom Poti. Talk about a perfect storm.
After the game I picked up the Renney press conference on the radio. Would you believe not one question of why Renney played Ozolinsh? The usual fluff questions from the drive-by sports media. There was no need to ask why Ozolinsh played. Ozolinsh is playing because Glen Sather traded for him. How fitting, Sather's other god child Tom Poti is paired with Ozolinsh. Maybe it's Tom Renney's perverse way of getting back at Sather.
The life was sucked out of the Garden after Jamie Langenbrunner's goal. Sykora hit the post, that would have tied it, and later hit another post on a gimme to the left of Broduer who made 25 saves. It has been a rough series for Sykora who hit a post in game two, on a five on three, that also might have turned the game around. That's how it goes with the losing teams. The good teams do get the breaks.
What more can you say about Jagr. He gave it his all and thought he might lift the team. Right now this team needs a crane to lift it. The Prince was back in the nets but still is not there yet. Something is amiss. I said it last column that he should have played game two. Another game to iron out whatever kinks exist in his game or his head. He seemed to pick it up in the third period when he made all seven saves.
Besides Jagr, who played over seventeen minutes, Rucinsky and Rucchin also played with injuries. Rucinsky with a broken finger and Rucchin with a broken foot. It was a valiant effort by the skating wounded but unfortunately they couldn't lift up the rest of the team especially one defenseman. At one time in the third period Renney had the wounded trio of Jagr, Rucinsky and Rucchin on the ice at the same time and they did create some opportunities.
What about game four? Do we go quitely or do we kick up a storm? We should stop talking about the great 0-3 comebacks and start thinking about how we start winning periods. Maybe we should be concentrating on scoring goals. That should be our motto. How do you win games? One goal at a time.
ICINGS: Ryan Hollweg continues to play well. He has now become a force even on offense. Perhaps putting him in front of the goalie on the power play? Try something but sit Ozolinsh for game four. At least spare us that.
A very nice Rangers fan in the park today said her father had a flashback nightmare when Zach Parise scored the "nail-in-the-coffin" third goal for the Devils. Thirty-one years ago in 1975 his father, left winger, Jean-Paul Parise of the New York Islanders scored a decisive goal for the Islanders against the Rangers in a Round 1 playoff game. The Islanders won that series 2-1. Ouch!
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