I realize I am going to sound like a bit of a hypocrite by doing this after calling the team out several times this season. I realize a lot of you will be against it because you are sticking to your guns. But I am going to be man enough to admit that my feelings towards this team, during this point of the season anyway, have changed. I am officially jumping on the playoff bandwagon and pushing for the Rangers to make it. Why? Because I have been a dedicated fan since birth, and I am not about to give up now.
There is a saying in sports that says your finish to the season is always more important than your start. That is true for obvious reasons. The Rangers had a fantastic start, a gloomy middle, but have the opportunity to finish strong. They have the opportunity to control their destiny and when exactly they will hang up the skates and head over to the country club and hit the links. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a direct result of the Blueshirts - our Blueshirts - showing us that they care afterall.
If you go down the roster, almost everyone has stepped up. While many will not want to admit, it is the truth. Michal Rozsival has been this team's best defensemen other than Marc Staal in recent games. Jody Shelley has been picking up points and contributing to the lineup. P.A. Parenteau has been stellar ever since being recalled. The list of unsuspecting heroes goes on and on.
They are showing you that they want to make the playoffs, and now it is our duty as fans to show them the same and give them support. Some of you have been watching this team since Emil Francis was behind the bench, Ed Giacomin was the number one goalie, and even when the GAG line was one of the best offensive trios in the National Hockey League. You're telling me that now you have decided to give up?
It is too late to tank, and I much rather get smacked around in the first round than to miss the playoffs by one or two points. Just think about the players that have worked themselves until there is nothing left in the tank for this entire season. Callahan, Gaborik, Lundqvist, Avery. Will you seriously enjoy watching them play their last regular season game and have nothing to look forward to until next September? If that is the case, I do not know how you call yourself a fan.
Folks, we have watched this team all season, loving them and hating them. We have went through all of the ups and downs with the players. If you are a real fan, you will put that all behind you and realize that there is a new season that started Tuesday night on Long Island. A seven game season that could lead us to the most exciting period of hockey: the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There are five games remaining and the Rangers are just two points out of the top eight in the East. It is out of our control now, but if you want to do your part, and say the phrase "I am a Ranger" with pride like they have burned into our minds for the past year, the least you can do is have a little faith.
[Note by Jim Schmiedeberg, 04/03/10 12:20 PM EDT For those of you that will be around, feel free to use this story as your open thread for the Pens-Thrashers game, I will be in here probably after the first period]