Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rangers Week In Review 10/25-10/31 : Hold On For The Ride All Year

The Rangers entered this week with the club and fans riding high on the back of a 3 game winning streak in which they played very good to excellent hockey for 8 of the 9 periods. These results pushed the season record from 1-2-1 where the fans were writing off the season to 4-2-1 and the fans back on the bandwagon talking playoffs and more. The reality is these Rangers like every incarnation of them for the last couple of years are neither as bad as the early results nor as good as last weeks, they are mediocre to good team, but not a contender for anything worthwhile and at best dash for a late playoff spot. Saturday night showed why they will always be in contention for a late run as they finish a disappointing week with a 2-0 win on the back of Henrik Lundqvist.

This was shown as the fans once again crashed back to Earth in the weeks opening game against Atlanta where other than the elation of a goal in the first minute and 2 in an attempt to rally the Rangers played a lazy game in which they didn’t hit, didn’t move their feet and frankly just got outworked. You had the Rangers scoring early and raising the hopes of the fans via a fast start, then slumbering around like a team with no direction and no real desire that could be sustained only to push fans to the ledge and then they make a furious run to get back in it and come up just short. If that sounds familiar to you it is because it is a microcosm of the 2008-09 season overall.

The Rangers on Friday looked to change the results and more importantly for some the effort exhausted in the process against Carolina and while they did manage to change the effort for the most part of the game, mainly offensively, once again they came up short. Coming into the season the fear for all Ranger fans was about the offense first, but statistically and in most every game the offense has shown up and at the very least created chances if not consistently finishing them. The defense on the other hand has taken far too many nights off and particularly disturbing has been the fact that in the first two games of this week the teams best defensive defenseman Marc Staal was lousy at his strength. Not even Ludqvist could save them on this night.

Less than 24 hours after Lundqivst exploits were failed to be rewarded against Carolina as Cam Ward was up to matching him save for save and topping him at the end of the night, Lundqvist did it again, but only better than before. He would notch his 25th shutout of his career making 36 saves and the efforts of the defense improved in front of him, especially compared to the two previous games.

This week showed that the Rangers still have a long way to go if they truly want to be a good team because they took the momentum of a great end to the week before and immediately flushed it down the toilet forgetting what it was that got them those 3 straight wins. They improved the effort but the execution still lacked, especially on D in game 2, but then in game 3 they again showed flashes of the team could be because they have a guy between the pipes that on any given night can throw up a zero. It will be interesting to see how they respond this time and later today I will examine what is waiting for them this coming week.