Before I even get into this fanpost, I want to point out that I know I am not very well known here, but I think there's something that needs to be said here, and so I'm going to do it. We're going to talk a little bit about expectation vs. reality with the New York Rangers, and why losing a few games along the way can many times benefit a team as opposed to winning every game every single time.
So first off, it is no secret that this was supposed to be "the year" for the New York Rangers; any half-cocked analyst was picking the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, or Boston Bruins to win Lord Stanley's Cup, but the number of people saying the Rangers were going to run away with it significantly outnumbered those who didn't, in my observation. Now, what does that mean in regards to our very own Blueshirt Banter? Well, it means we were expecting another 109 point season. Or, in the case of this half season, being 26-12-4, which would put us at about 56 points. But let's take a look at that stat for a second: the rangers are, right now, 21-17-4, at 46 points. Following an identical track as last season, that would only put this year's rangers 5 games behind pace. Now, it's safe to say that this Ranger's team is not last year's Rangers team, but does that make them astronomically worse? No. As a matter of fact, in last years playoffs, projecting this current win/loss over 82 games, they would probably finish at around 42-34-8, or 43-34-7 or perhaps a little bit better, but they would still finish with somewhere around 92-94 points. Lemme tell you something, that Rangers team with 94 points still makes the playoffs, and in 7th seed nonetheless, which pushes out poor Ottawa completely. They'd be facing Boston in the first round and who knows what happens then.
To summarize what is kind of a broad point, the Rangers are hardly this abomination of a team that everyone is making them out to be. I understand that it is tough going from first place to fighting for 6th-8th, but lets take a look at Montreal, Toronto, and the Islanders: had you told me that the Montreal Canadians would be in 2nd, and the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders would make the playoffs while the Devils and Flyers wouldn't, I would have laughed in your face, and rightfully so! Those three teams were the worst in the conference last year, and now they look like three of the best. This entire season is a wild card. There was no camp, everything is so crammed together that momentum is hard to break or carry, and the grinder style that the Rangers love to play so dearly is just not effective in such a short amount of time. While I'm talking about the shortened season, doing things like moving Marian Gaborik in this type of a season really leaves me incensed, but that's a different Fanpost.
Last but not least, let's talk a little bit about losing, and why losing an important game can actually do more good for a team than winning it. Okay, so we've all heard the term "trap game"; and that pretty much embodies last night's game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Rangers may have been a tad guilty of overlooking a Flyers team that just trounced the Montreal Canadians the night before, and they ended up paying for it in bad power plays, poor pressure on a back-up, and at one point injured, goaltender, and that's that. But what do the Rangers take from this going forward? Well they've got about 2 more of these "Trap games" ahead of them. One against the New Jersey Devils, and one against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Devils can't buy a goal lately, and the Hurricanes have been trying their hardest, but injuries have taken this team out. So what does losing that "trap game" against the Flyers have to do with going forward? I can promise you John Tortorella was incensed about this loss, and that's exactly what that team needs. This team will be practicing harder than ever before, because if you think Tortorella is going to stand losing to teams that are well beneath the Rangers, you've got another thing coming. This also opens up a pretty big chance for a player to come into the spotlight and make a difference for this team. We've already seen Derek Stepan do it in a big way this season, who's next? (I'm looking at you, Brad Richards, Ryane Clowe and Carl Hagelin) On my last point about losing, I wanted to point out that losses, simply put, just happen. No team to my knowledge has ever gone completely undefeated, and that's because the thought of a hockey team winning every game put in front of them is simply ridiculous. Losses have to come somewhere because if your club doesn't ever lose in the regular season, they will have no idea how to handle it when they do lose, or come really, really close to losing in the playoffs. (see the New England Patriots, for all you football fans; on the near-undefeated season, they almost lost to the Giants in the final week of the regular season, and when they saw the Giants again in the post season, they simply could not play a full 60 minute effort against them; they had no idea how to play from behind or in a losing situation.)
Now I'm sure there are many things you guys here at the Banter disagree with, and honestly I look forward to debating some of these points out with you, but overall I wanted to say one thing: we have to have faith in our team as a group; we all know what we were expecting, and that's simply not going to happen this season. We have to look at the team we have now and make the most of it.