Saturday, April 2, 2011

Despite Recent Reactions Rangers Still Control Destiny So Have A Little Faith

Yesterday for many was a day to vent over the frustrations of the Rangers last two performances and it was well deserved, but now we need to take a step back from the ledge of talking about collapses and look at how the situation actually shakes out.  Part of the reason for heightened emotions is simply that they not only lost, but got drubbed by the Islanders.  Rivalry losses, especially to a team that many consider a step child currently, will always send the fanbase into an extra level of panic and dismay. 
The Rangers have some of the most passionate fans in all of sports and that is why each win for some is seen as a sign they are going to be having a parade when the year is over and each loss is a sign of the world coming to an end.  There is a middle ground and after venting yesterday let us see if we can find it.
Without question they have struggled in the last two games, but there are still four games left and here are some other facts they take into those.  The New York Rangers are still in a playoff spot.  The team is actually closer to sixth than they are to ninth.  The team is still in controls of their destiny having a three point lead while Carolina only has one game in hand.  The Rangers, even with two straight losses, are still 8-3-1 in their last 12 games so discussion of that as a collapse seems a little out there. 
If these two losses had been spread anywhere else along those 12 games the freak out would not have been nearly as large, but there was a sense of complacency amongst both the fans and apparently the team in terms of the inevitability of clinching a playoff birth.  Now that must be gone.  Now the team will get back to how it has played all season as a hardworking, grind it out team that plays to higher level than the sum of its parts.  If you do not still believe in those things as facts, then you obviously were not paying attention for the first 75 games of the season and don’t know the character of this team very well. 
For the next four games no matter what we see on the ice we owe it to this group of players and the level of things they have given us to cheer for this year to continue to support and believe in them.  If they come up short again it will be awful, but they deserve better than for the fans to quit on them now before the final horn goes on the regular season.
Now that I gave the pep talk let’s look at the remaining schedules:
Current Points
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3
Game 4
Game 5
at NJ(4/2)
Chi (4/5)
at OTT (4/7)
at TOR (4/9)

at WAS (4/2)
at Car (4/3)
TB (4/5)
Phi (4/8)
at CLB (4/9)
at PHI(4/3)
Bos (4/4)
ATL (4/7)
NJ (4/9)

at NYI (4/2)
Buf (4/3)
Det (4/6)
at ATL (4/8)
TB (4/9)

The difficulty of all the schedules seems to be relatively even because while some look easier than others rivalries are also involved which makes any game more difficult.  At best you would assume that Carolina gets four wins in their last five which would mean the Rangers need three to lock it down.  More likely is Carolina goes 3-2 in those five and the Rangers must find a way to muster three points in their four games, which is inherently doable if they play their game.  The last thing the Rangers want to do however is leave the rivalry game against the Devils as the decider on the season so they must gain points in these next three games and make the season finale an afterthought.

Things are never as bright as they seem in Ranger land, but they aren't as dim as they appeared the last 36 hours either.