Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Difference Between Winning a Stanley Cup and Being the Worst Thing in the World

Henrik Lundqvist.

No, I'm just kidding.  While he is a big part of the reason the Rangers haven't sucked enough for a top draft pick in the past few years, he is not the total difference nor the middle ground.

I was at MSG last night...it was the 3rd loss for the Rangers in the last 15 games.  However, the people were beyond pissed.  If they were saying things like "wow, this game sucked," it would have been one thing, but they were complaining about the team sucking and saying "same old shit."  Fewest regulation losses in the league (though much of it through luck, not necessarily outplaying the opposition), but this team is awful.

Why are Ranger fans never satisfied?

Rangers sign the biggest free agent in the league last summer, the guy who many teams wanted.  His contract is  too long, he's already a disappointment.

Rangers let Matt Gilroy go.  People complain.  Tell me, other than score in the first game of the playoffs, where was his great contribution?

However, when the Rangers plays like shit for 2 periods, then light up a shaky Roberto Luongo, they're the greatest team ever.

When there's a missed call against the Rangers, no one seems to notice or many deny there should have been a call.  Rangers get a soft call, there's a riot.  Other team gets a soft call, a crime was committed.  Refs miss a call, they're playing for the other team.  Pittsburgh and Sidney Crosby aren't the only ones who get refs in their favorite.  Sure, sometimes it's obvious and annoying, but it goes both ways.
Maybe part of this comes from being a Blackhawks fan as well...I've watched games where I notice the Hawks getting a lot of calls in their favor and calls being missed on them.  It annoys me when that happens too even though last year their power play was lethal.
I'm just tired of blaming the refs.  The refs are not responsible for a team being unable to capitalize on golden chances.  The refs are not responsible for a defenseman being completely out of position allowing someone to get a shot off that Hank doesn't have a chance of stopping. 

This team can be incredibly frustrating....but that happens when a team has an identity of hard work and not the most skill and finesse.  Enjoy the winning when it happens, but don't get cocky.  When the team loses, brush it off and support them.  Without fan support, what reason to the players have to come out at MSG and give it their all?  If they're under a long term contract, they get paid whether they play or not.

The Season Thus Far

I have greatly neglected this blog in the past year just because time gets away from me.  I graduated law school, took the Bar Exam, then went on the never ending search for legal employment.  I still have a lot of opinions, so it's time to express a few of them.  I'll do mostly a player by player analysis, but not about everyone.  I'm not even sure anyone will read this, but I can never get a full opinion out on twitter...damn 140 character limit.
I want to mention Bobby Ryan too...I would have loved to have him, but not if it would cost any of the top 4 defensemen...or Chris Kreider.

Since it's relevant at the moment, I'll start with the contributions of Michael Sauer.  It really bothers me how few Rangers fans actually recognize his efforts.  He is solid night in, night out, he's incredibly consistent, and he (almost) always makes the right decisions.  While he is far from an offensive player, right now I am in fear of the length of time that we will be without him.

Next...I will move on to Brandon Dubinsky.  Most people who know me know that I'm not his biggest fan, but I don't hate him as much as some think I do.  I know he's better than how he's playing.  I thought after they returned from Europe, he was playing pretty well.  He was hitting, he was creating, he just wasn't scoring and I'm of the belief that scoring isn't everything.  I was at MSG for his first goal, sitting literally 2 feet from where he celebrated it.  Since that puck hit the back of the net, he has played worse than he did before that.  He's not hitting, he's not putting pressure on the defense...he's not doing the things that make him an effective player.  I know he can do better than this and I want to see that; if he doesn't, this team might not go anywhere.

Captain Cally.  Ryan Callahan has been and always will by my favorite Ranger.  He had a slow start, a lot of the same woes as Dubi.  Since then however, he's picking up his game.  Then again, he makes some of the same moves every game, but they're working.  He's the only one on the power play that gets in the goalie's face and in the league today, when it's a forechecking team, that's how you have to play.  Sure, he's gotten too close to the goalie a few times...or tried to glove the puck in.  I'm not going to pretend he doesn't make mistakes or have off nights and will never be one of those "Cally does no wrong" people...but I do believe he is providing the type of leadership that was expected of him.  When Cally plays hard, the team plays hard.  He just REALLY needs to work on shot accuracy.

Now, my second favorite player on the team and the player who in my mind will be the future of the NYR blueline.  Ryan McDonagh.  Last night, I could not have been more disappointed in how he played.  He was being owned all over the ice.  Usually, he can out-skate the opposition and he's the king of the poke check.  He brings everything to the game and since the day he was called up in January, there has been no looking back.

On the topic of not looking back, welcome to New York, Carl Hagelin, I hope you're searching for an apartment because you are not going back to Connecticut.  I know last year with Zuc, everyone thought he was going to be staying and that he was the real deal.  I see something in Hags that I never saw in Zuc; he has a passion, he has speed, he has raw talent.  Forget the 4 points in his first 4 games and look at the little things.  This kid is here to stay.  I know I'll be forced to eat my words if he slumps and goes back down, but for right now, I'm contemplating a Hagelin jersey next year.

I was gonna talk about Boyle and Prust, but then I realized that they've been pretty invisible.  Though if Prust fights in the first 2 minutes, the Rangers win.  He's had more positives this year than Boyle, but he's not as noticeable in every game as he was last year.

Dan Girardi is a beast.  Need I say more?  Vote him into the All Star Game.

I miss Staalsy.

Gaby is back to his fantastic ways and actually scoring goals consistently and he's doing pretty well defensively.  Sure, people are still going to bash him if he goes a game without a point, but hey, that's what NYR fans do.

I love the addition of Brad Richards.  He's scoring clutch goals, making big plays, and setting up goals when needed.  He's doing what we needed him to do.  I see complaints about his contract everywhere, but NYR fans are never satisfied.  Wait 5 more years before you complain about him...right now, he's doing exactly what he was signed to do.

Henrik is king.  I don't care about his soft goals, he keeps the team in games and he helped both win streaks happen.

Marty Biron is the best veteran back up goalie in the league. Case closed.

This has been my opinion...maybe there will be more coming soon.

ETA: I forgot about Michael Del Zotto...ooohhhh Michael (and his parties).  He has improved since last year.  He hits the net about 20% of the time and his offense is returning to how it was before.  However, his defense needs work.  For every good defensive play he makes, he dives across the ice only to be undressed by the nearest offensive star for the other team...or the nearest fourth liner who hasn't scored all season.  I still don't think he's a "dud" as many do, but he is showing that the skill is there.  Now he needs the effort...remember skill + effort = success.