So there we were, most of the 18,200, standing on our feet, as the final seconds counted down to another game, another season. We were roaring and applauding as the game came to an end. We were cheering the losing team, yes the losing team. The Devils never heard a sound like that in their building even when they were winning Cups. Brodeur, after the game, said that he was amazed by what he heard. "It's pretty impressive how they reacted (the Ranger Fans), even after a sweep!" And it never stopped. It went through the handshaking and erupted when for the last time in the 2005-06 season the players lifted their sticks to salute the crowd. I said most of the 18,200 because there were quite a few Devils fans in the seats, most likely with tickets bought from mercenary Ranger fans. There were also some Ranger fans who left late in the third period. Shame on them for not sticking with them to the end.
To me the game was decided in the first period when the refs disallowed Hossa's goal and instead gave him a penalty for interference. If I were Renney I would have thrown a water bottle at the bum for that bad call. The bad calls continued with a two minute penalty to Rasmussen for boarding Hollweg from behind. The call should have been at the least a double minor, or a five minute major and ejection. It was a worse hit than the one Hollweg delivered in game two and was ejected from the game.
Let me tell you folks, the penalties are called by the back of the jerseys, certain players automatically get big minutes for little or no infractions. Hollweg is one of those targeted players. He doesn't conform to the new NHL, No Hit League. He never complains like cry baby, Grant Marshall, of the Devils, who complains about everything.
Speaking of hits where were the Rangers when Jagr got hit? Sure it was legal but when your star gets hit the team is supposed to go to his support. All hands should be on deck. In this case I guess Hollweg wasn't on the ice and there was nothing the rest of the team could or would do. Umberger, on the Flyers, got knocked senseless by a Sabre, a clean hit, and the entire Flyer team, on the ice, except the goalie rushed to the Sabre.
And how about the hit on Hollweg? Where were the Rangers? Nowhere. Marty McSorley who used to be a team mate of Gretzky said that a teammate must be prepared to take a game misconduct every time Gretzky gets touched, not necessarily hit, but touched. The Rangers need a lot of work in this area.
The Rangers need a lot of work in a lot of areas if they are to be Cup contenders. Jagr kind of summed up what needs to be done, "There are a lot of free agents. If we get two or three real good guys, you never know." Notice, two or three good guys. That statement is as much of an indictment of this years team as it is about the future Rangers. I'm sure Sather and company are listening and hopefully will follow up to keep the great Jaromir Jagr a happy and productive Ranger for the next two seasons. So was the season a success? Let's put it this way. The season ended exactly as most of the Ranger fans thought it would end only four games longer than we thought.
But Jagr might be giving the Ranger management too much credit. Remember at the trade deadline Sather played it safe and came up with Sandis Ozolinsh for a draft pick. He had neither the guts or inclination to get something better and tougher. He could have tried to go after a Brendan Witt type of player, rough, tough, stay at home defenseman but in the process basically gave up rough, tough Ville Niemenen for a first class soft, weak defenseman, who was even a liability on offense. The line goes that he didn't want to change the chemistry of the team. That chemistry looks like acid right now and has consumed the team.
What about Renney? In the nine game slide he acted helpless. It was like it was someone else's fault. He didn't have a clue. With the wealth of young talent he had in Hartford the best he could come up with were a few games for Pock and Immonen. Night after night the same players with minor shifts in line assignments, which further seemed to confuse the Rangers. Is there any guarantee that he would do better with a better cast? Remember a lot of free agents prior to the season refused to even talk to the Rangers. Aucoin, Forsberg and Sellane are among the many who showed no interest in the Rangers. Watching the Ranger collapse, what assurances are there they would, or could, get key free agents like Chara, for instance? He has been in the New York area before, the Islanders, so what makes you think he would want an encore? It could be a long hot summer folks.
ICINGS: Larry Brooks in his Slap Shot column takes a shot at Ranger fans booing Tyutin on the Patrik Elias third period goal. Funny, Larry went out of his way to slam the fans on that one but not a mention of the way the Ranger fans rose to their feet at the end of the game cheering for a tired beaten team. Not one line. Oh well, when you are exalted you need currying the favor of no one but yourself.
Speaking of Devil fans, who insist on coming to the Garden and making fools of themselves, I counted at least three who were escorted out of the Garden last night. What is funny is that the majority of Ranger fans don't taunt them, they taunt the Ranger fans in our building. They represent a group of fans that have trouble selling out their own building. If Ranger fans did not go to Jersey or the Island, for that matter, these teams would never sell out. Stay home boobs!
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