There are only fifteen games remaining in the 2009-10 season for the New York Rangers. In order to make the playoffs, they are going to need to win at least ten of those. After seeing what the squad displayed on this night, they are lucky if they win five of their last fifteen, because that uninspiring loss was atrocious. They did not get the offense, they certainly did not get the defense, and the goaltending was below average. Yea, not too great of a winning formula.
You knew it was going to be a long night when Rob Niedermayer scored on a scrambly play just four minutes in. Unfortunately, the defense would not get any better from there. Bryce Salvador somehow managed to get a slapshot from the point through to Lundqvist, where it was deflected off of Olli Jokinen and past Hank. The Blueshirts did manage to squeeze a goal in-between the two Devil tallies as Marian Gaborik broke out of his scoring slump, feeding Vinny Prospal for a tap-in.
The second stanza was just a complete mess, at least the second half of it. Erik Christensen scored a marvelous goal to open the period, beating the defense as well as Marty Broduer, making it a tie game once again. However, Zach Parise was able to regain the lead with a powerplay goal, only to be answered by Brandon Prust's first as a Ranger off a Shelley rebound. That would be the end of the Rangers scoring.
Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Rolston scored within two minutes of each other, eventually leading up to the removal of Henrik Lundqvist from the game. Now before everyone starts ripping Hank for a bad performance, look at the outing the defense was having. Dan Girardi was about the only player on defense that was even noticeable for the Rangers, besides when Redden was found sliding down by Brodeur's crease when his team was being scored on in the other end. Lundqvist did not play well, no question, but this was not his fault.
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Alex Auld, Lundqvist's replacement, played quite well, stopping nine out of ten shots and only allowing one goal to Travis Zajac in the third period. Auld had to face several odd-man rushes immediately following his entrance, which means this team did not make any adjustments or feel any emotion while seeing their all-star goaltender sitting on the bench. That is a depressing thought.
John Tortorella has lost himself, and just may have lost this team. The postgame rubbish with reporters is getting old. No need to take out the anger from your own mistakes on an innocent bunch of people trying to do their job. There is no need for that and makes the organization appear to be low-class.
Secondly, his decisions on the ice are doing nothing but hurting this team. Let's face it, he no longer has a resolution to this club's problems. Right now they are rapidly descending through the standings and dropping out of the bid for a playoff berth. Torts needs to get a grasp of his squad fast and get them back on the right track, but for some reason, I just do not think he can pull it off.
I am not going to sit here and point the finger of blame at individuals, so I would just like to take a look at the big picture to put a wrap on the night. The New York Rangers need to win 67 percent of their remaining games. What we painfully witnessed tonight is not a product of hockey that is going to win you 67 percent of the remainder of your season. So my question to you is, can they do it? Can they make the playoffs? I am beginning to have my doubts at this point.
The Rangers are back at it on Friday when they take on the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena and following that they will clash with the Flyers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon. Two extremely crucial contests that the Blueshirts have to win, and if they do not, they will fall in the standings drastically.