I am sure most of you caught Sean Avery's quote before entering the home-and-home series with the Islanders last week, but if you did not, here it is for you:
"I think we have to have an arrogant attitude where we have a chip on our shoulder in these games," Sean Avery told The Post. "We have to have a swagger, and I don't mean just against the Islanders, but for Ottawa on Sunday, and pretty much straight through.
"Look at the Jets. They prepare for every game and start every game with the attitude that they're the greatest team to ever walk on a football field. I don't see a problem with that if you have a work ethic, which we do."
When you think about it, it's not such a bad idea. The Rangers have not played with an attitude in years, nor have they established a true identity. Sean Avery, yes, he has done his fair share of things to suggest he has a swagger, but the team as a whole has not. Both the Blackhawks and Flyers played with attitude last season, and look, they ended up in the Stanley Cup Finals. Coincidence? I think not.
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In my opinion, playing with swagger may come off as a bit cocky, but at the same time, you need to back it up with a work ethic and an enormous effort. I truly believe that the New York Rangers have the ability to do both, so what is the harm in giving Avery's suggestion a shot?
Take Sunday's loss to the Ottawa Senators for example. The Blueshirts admitted that they were shocked by the Senators' speed in the first period and they sort of took a back seat. That has absolutely nothing to do with their skill level, but it sure has something to do with their mentality. If the Rangers enter that tilt knowing they are the better team and can win that game, they would have turned that pathetic start around a lot quicker than they actually ended up doing.
Playing with swagger is not only dominating on the scoreboard, but it also means physically rattling your opponent. That is something the Rangers have done reasonably well this season, but there are some players on the team that still can jump on the hitting bandwagon. The Rangers should look over to their rivals in the Philadelphia Flyers. Opposing teams always know they are going to have to play a hard fought, nasty battle against Philly. That is what the Rangers want to develop for themselves; an instant fear in the opponent when visiting Madison Square Garden.
Plus, it is usually a good thing when a team takes on the personalty of its coach. We all know John Tortorella has an attitude and some arrogance to him, but a lot of times his players do not back it up. If the coach is talking tough, then his squad should be able to go out and play tough. A lot of people have varying opinions on this matter, but that is the way I feel.
It is important that the Rangers do not get too full of themselves, though, otherwise they will start dropping games left and right. They need to show a little respect for their opponent and maintain a solid work ethic. However, a little swagger will not hurt them, and if anything, will help them in the long-run.