What makes the Rangers’ self-inflicted plight even worse is that the Thrashers late surge is all about heart and effort since their major moves were to trade away a goalie and their best player while essentially getting Johnny Oduya and 48-year-old Chris Chelios for the stretch run. The Rangers have faltered because their effort, discipline and, let’s face it, heart, were lacking. Talent-wise, the Rangers should be ahead of the Thrashers. But before yesterday’s game, coach John Tortorella talked about needing to get a big play. He got one when Henrik Lundqvist stopped a penalty shot but he never got the big play he needed from Marian Gaborik, certainly not from Olli Jokinen, suspect both offensively and defensively and discipline-wise. In fact, except for Lundqvist, none of the Rangers who should be counted on to be difference makers, influenced the game one bit.
So, yes, I’ve officially shifted from my long-held position the Rangers were going to squeeze in as the eighth seed. I’ll admit it, the depths of their inconsistent, often unengaged hockey has surprised me. And it shows this team, this organization, has some serious leadership issues on all levels: The players couldn’t motivate themselves, which is completely on them. The coach couldn’t motivate the players, which speaks to Tortorella’s relationship with the team, the general manager ultimately brought in too many spare/bad parts despite the brilliance of the Scott Gomez/Marian Gaborik maneuver, and the owner has shown far too much patience and trust. Meanwhile, because the owner does not speak to the media and the general manager, for the most part does not speak to the media, there is a sense of a lack of accountability throughout the organization. Which is not fair to the fans, who essentially finance the product.
I couldn't have said it any better myself. Props to Gross for actually reporting analysis like this, especially since we all know he is not wrong.