Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rangers Resilency, Determination, Sacrifice Should Make All Fans Proud To Cheer

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The New York Rangers comeback win against the Boston Bruins is one of those that people will look at as season defining partially because of the time of year it happened and what was on the line at this point in the year.  Hopefully what will not get lost in the shuffle is how last night’s game was a product of the identity and system this team has been built on all season.  One thing you can rarely say with this Rangers team is that they lack effort, heart or fight.  They have their nights where it goes horribly wrong, but those are few and far between.  What you see with a much greater frequency is a team that no matter the situation battles and scraps their way until the final buzzer and more often than not that hard work and sacrificing mentality is rewarded with a result that leaves the players with the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction and the fans with a sense of pride for cheering for this particular group.
Last night against the Bruins was just one of those events.  Early in the game there was frustration and even despair for some at the way the team looked to be outclassed by Boston for the first period.  Having watched this team all year no fan should have given up them at that point because whether they completed the comeback or not you had to expect the effort to get there would be forthcoming and it was.  The resiliency and fight of this team is something that should never be discounted and once Vinny Prospal broke the seal on the scoring for the night you just had this sense they were going to find a way as they have many times before this season.
From Andrew Gross post-game wrap up last night:
“We’ve been this way all year long,” Tortorella said about the resiliency the team showed in coming back from a three-goal deficit. “We haven’t played a lot of bad games. This team has balls. It has had balls all year long.”
This team is certainly one that is certainly greater than the sum of its parts and uses those intangibles to get through the rough moments.  There is no denying they have a world class goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist who should be considered, but likely won’t win the Vezina and they have an All-Star defender in Marc Staal.  Outside of those two, with Gaborik having an off year, the talent level on this team is not nearly as high as just about any other team currently in playoff position.  They have to be a team that grinds you, that plays their system in order to have a chance each night, but it is their heart and determination that carries them more than anything else. 
You watch this team that is built on an identity which at its core is based on the idea of sacrificing for the rest of the guys in the room.  You see in how they forecheck and cycle the puck on offense with the willingness to take the punishment and you see it even more on defense where they constantly hurl themselves in front of shot after shot with no thought for their own health or safety.  The evidence of that is the last 90 seconds last night after the two huge goals to take the lead you have Brian Boyle and Ryan Callahan diving in front of Zdeno Chara bombs to preserve the comeback.  It is that kind of work that allows the comeback to possible at all.
“They are there every night doing that,” goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. “I think everyone is doing a great job paying the price.  We are going to need it.  We are going to need guys to sacrifice their bodies.  That is the way we play…we play hard.  When we do that we have a much better shot to win.”
There will be ups and downs in a game or in the season as these are still the New York Rangers and they love to make it interesting, but this Rangers team is different than ones from previous seasons as they give you reason to believe and be proud nearly every night.  With the effort that they put in, the heart that they show and the resiliency they continue to reward the fans with there should never be a point where someone quits on this team.