With the Islanders picking up a win in Atlanta last night, the New York Rangers have now fallen to dead last in the Atlantic Division, and are currently right behind the struggling Philadelphia Flyers in the standings. While many of you may look at this as the end of the world, or just simply give up on the team all together, I am looking at this with a bit of a different attitude. I am looking at this as an opportunity to regain confidence and get back on the winning track. Call me crazy, but I truly believe the fact that the previously 30th place rival Islanders have now pulled ahead of the Blueshirts will benefit the Rangers, rather than hurt them.
Put yourselves in the Rangers' shoes, or skates I should say, for a minute. Now imagine watching the same team that had the first round draft pick this past June, the same team that you have finished ahead of in the standings for consecutive seasons now, the same team that enjoys nothing better than defeating you and playing a superior product of hockey to yours now passing you in the standings. You are now the cellar dwellers, you are now the team in which its very own fans are giving up on you, and you are the team that has a boatload of pressure bearing down on you. Well, how would that make you feel?
What I am saying here is that the tables have turned. The Islanders have slowly but surely crept out of the shadow that is casted on them by their rivals from Manhattan. Now, whether this scenario will be true for the entire season or not, I cannot predict, but for the time being, this Ranger team has to be outraged.
At the same time, you must give credit to the Isles as much as it may hurt you to do so. They have an unbelievable work ethic and that is what is propelling them in this time of over achievement.
In my eyes, yes, the Blueshirts lack skill in specific areas of the game, but a lot of this slump is due to poor mentality and lack-luster effort. Once losses begin to mount and players do not score and the bounces are not going their way, the overall confidence level decreases drastically. It is a possibility that these mixed emotions may turn to anger with what has went on over the past week; from teammates being waived to rivals surpassing them in the standings.
That being said, I am not a player on the team and cannot just predict what is going through their heads. However, assuming that these players have the mentality of any other normal human beings, there is a good chance that there is that feeling of shame right now, which can also translate into motivation and a state of desperation in which they will do anything to again be the leaders of New York Hockey. John Tortorella has not gotten a 100 percent effort from his entire squad, but Gordon has, and as you can see, it makes a big difference. So maybe the Rangers can take some pointers from their interstate foes, and begin to out-work teams night in and night. Even if you're losing, that is still a respectable style of hockey and a way to get this team on the same page. I am just trying to stay positive during these difficult times.
[Note by Jim Schmiedeberg, 12/04/09 8:23 AM EST Full credit for this story goes to Nick from Rangers Tribune, he posted it on his site this morning, but was having some technical difficulties putting it on here, so I said I would do it for him.]