Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Rangers Go Meekly And Quietly

The good book says that the meek shall inherit the earth. The Rangers must stop reading that book, it does not include the hockey world. Forget the stats that put the hits at 28-20 favoring the Isles. It was no contest in hits. Hunter, Hill , Campoli and Kozlov all leveled jarring hits with Jagr the recepient of most of them. Jagr, perhaps grudgingly, paid the Islanders a lot of credit. "God bless them, they played a good game, now they've got toughness and skill." Ah toughness. While the Rangers were accumulating Czechs the Islanders were getting checkers. While the Rangers were hot for stick handling defensemen the Islanders were going for body crunchers. While the Rangers were going for perimeter forwards the Islanders were going for net crashers. While the Rangers went for a philosophic no action coach the Islanders went for a roll up your sleeves, put on your hard hat, get in the trenches and fight like a wounded animal type coach.

It is amazing that Jagr admires the Islander toughness. Wasn't he initially thrilled with all the Czech's that the 'drain trust' gathered? He was battered last night and there was no one to protect him. Who could. Straka? Nylander? Rozsival? These guys have enough problems protecting themselves. As Jagr and Lundqvist go, so go the Rangers. Lundqvist, though not quite good enough to win did play a strong game with 36 saves. Of course DiPietro was perfect.

Jagr though had problems with the close checking, hard hitting Islanders. Even Tom Poti put him down with a hit and no Ranger retaliated. Jagr had no shots in the first two periods, but got 5 in the third. He also coughed up the puck five times. But that is not why the Rangers lost. They lost because right now they are not tough enough to compete in this new NHL. Last year they caught everyone by surprise with their tic-tac-toe perimeter game which caught up to them at the end of the season. This season the entire league is wise to them. Put the locks on Jagr and chances are you will beat the Rangers, unless Lundqvist can steal one. There seems to be fewer steals in Lundqvist's arsenal these days.

Recently Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote an article complaing about the Rangers shortcomings. In his opinion Straka was the only Ranger to exceed expectations. Debatable point. The supporting cast after the big four, Jagr, Shanahan, Straka and Nylander are weak. The free signing pickups are disappointing and the entire defense is weak with maybe the best Ranger defenseman ranked about 60th in the league. He predicts no playoffs with this team. Great analysis. Only one thing wrong with this analysis. This is the same team that Larry Brooks picked to win the cup at the start of the season. Think about that for a moment. What went wrong? You still think that Brian Leetch is too old to play for this team?

ICINGS: Nylander was benched for the entire third period for giving the Islanders a double minor by clipping Radek Martinek. The Islanders scored eleven seconds after the end of the penalty. He seems to be an easy guy to bench despite racking up good numbers. Renney also benched him last year. You don't see Cullen or Aaron Ward or Adam Hall get benched do you? What do they have in common. Two things. They are useless and Sather signed two to big free agency contracts and traded for Hall, losing the gutsy Dominic Moore.

December 28, 2006
NY Post
Benchings Make Rangers' Point
Newsday
Renney Penalizes Nylander

December 27, 2006
Daily News
Isles Ice Rangers
NY Post
Skid-Row Rangers
Newsday
Jagr Praises Isles' Talent, Work
Isles Take Jackpot On A Full House
DiPietro Has Upper Hand In Goalie War
Journal News
Islanders Blank Rangers In A Battle



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