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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rangers: Not for the weak of heart or stomach

We have all seen it in the bar. You are in the hanging with your friends, consuming some adult beverages, and off in the distance, you see "That guy." Not the jerk who thinks he's the coolest guy in the bar, but rather the one who has a snowball's chance in hell at landing the hot chick in the mini skirt. The music is too loud to talk and you don't dance, so what else is there to do but watch this guy? Why not get a good laugh out of it?
So first he goes over and starts a conversation with her. She doesn't turn him away. Who knows, maybe she is just being polite. Next he buys her a drink. She takes it, but who is really going to turn down a free drink? He then gestures and asks her to dance. She goes out there and starts off with a good foot of open space between them. Five songs and two drinks later, and you couldn't slip a piece of paper between them. You start to get your hopes up for this guy. You root for him to pull this off, for all of the average guys out there who have been in that position. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. (Thank you Andy Dufresne) Then there is flirtatious touching and grabbing and groping and you think this is gonna be it. This is gonna be the guy's triumph of the night. And then tragedy strikes and she walks away. What do this guy and the New York Rangers have in common? THEY CAN'T FREAKING SCORE.
Each game you watch and they have multiple scoring chances. Each game you hop out of your seat thinking that the puck had to find twine and yet no red light goes on. The last two nights, Ryan Miller and Vesa Toskala have been sprawling, diving, and using the Force to stop the puck from getting into the net. For those with the weak of heart, do not watch this team until they get off the schneid, because multiple heart attacks in a two and a half hour period cannot be good for one's health. For those with the weak stomach, do not bother eating anytime before the game, because there is not enough carpet cleaner out there to get the puke stains out.
The Rangers have dropped the last two 4-2 and 3-2. During the Sabres game, they thought there was a 8:00 start time rather than 7:00 and didn't show up until the 2nd period, which is a common occurrence and a sign of bad coaching. During the Leafs game tonight, they outplayed Toronto for a good 50 of 62 minutes. Alas, stupid penalties and lucky bounces lead to the demise of the Broadway Blueshirts.
The first goal allowed was on a failed deflection attempt by John Mitchell. Instead of deflecting a Pavel Kubina low slapper, Mitchell accidentally trapped it. Hank played the puck and was ready for the deflection. When the puck was stopped dead, half of the net was left open. A quick backhand and the first goal was on the board.
The second Leafs goal came during a 4-4 about 30 seconds after Gomez tied it up on a nice backhander through Toskala's wickets. In any 4-4 situation, the basic defense is forwards on d-men and d-men on forwards. Drury took a gamble on a Kubina cross ice pass and the puck snuck under his stick. This allowed Ian White to walk into the slot uncontested and rip one by Hank. Not one Ranger moved towards White in what was either a lack of effort or a collective defensive lapse. Either way the Leafs took the lead 2-1.
A period and a half later and the Rangers have an empty net. Zherdev gains the zone and throws it cross ice to a cutting Dubinsky. Dubinsky puts it on net but is blocked. The puck deflects off of Callahan and back to Rozsival who throws it on net and deflects it off of a Leaf in front and sneaks it by Vesa to tie things at 2-2. This would be the reason the game was salvaged because the Rangers earned the automatic 1 point in OT.
Doomed seemed imminent 2 minutes into overtime when the Rangers best penalty killer, Blair Betts, came off the bench and hooked Kubina skating through the neutral zone. This lead to the dreaded 4-3 power play, also known in the Garden tonight as the Pavel Kubina firing squad. Kubina blasted 2-3 shots from the point, all which bounced off of the boards and right back to a Leaf forward and then back to Kubina. After a couple deja vus, Kubina put one on net that Hagman deflected in.
Despite the loss, things are turning around for the Rangers. Their passing was crisp, their defense solid, and they ended up putting 41 shots on net. There is hope looking into the future and if they can put out this effort nightly, things will turn around. Until then, they will just be "That Guy" in the bar watching the hot girl walk away.

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