The Rangers Game Log

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sudden Change of Perspective

- Everything seemed fine as I awoke on Saturday morning, despite the recent wins earned with less than completely satisfying performances because, really, winning is the bottom line (something I wouldn’t have written at the beginning of the year). I don’t spend much time agonizing over games that are wins, because hockey is not a game of perfection, and you rarely if ever see a team play a flawless game. I think back to watching the Islanders’ championship teams and recall how many times their goalies would stand on their heads to keep them in the games long enough to summon up the big plays needed to get the win. And I’d think, “jeez, they’re so lucky!”

But goaltending is part of the game, and if ours were good enough to steal some points in games in which the overall performance was lackluster, then so be it. It’s a long season, and every team has ebbs and tides that can vary according to the frequency of games, injuries, or just the slumps and streaks that inevitably come with an 82 game season.

So, riding a six game winning streak, I didn’t have a care in the hockey world, until I stumbled across this article by Steve Zipay in Newsday on Saturday morning.
…troubling signs are surfacing for the Rangers…….. teams are figuring out how to counter the system and style of the 17-7-3 Rangers…. There's the possibility that fatigue - both mental and physical - might be starting to affect some players…..And there's another road-heavy schedule looming..
And that wasn’t all – Rucinsky’s knee was still sore, the goaltending situation is precarious with Weekes (and Al Montoya) out, Jagr’s hip flexor… And suddenly, in the minute that it took me to read this piece, everything seemed less rosy than it did before….the result, I’m sure, of the years of misery that makes ones’ confidence easy to rattle, even with just some written words.

Now I didn’t feel too hot about the upcoming game in Washington that night, fears that were confirmed by the 5-1 loss which, fortunately, I didn’t get to see that much of. I can easily just chalk it up to “due to lose,” but being nine games over .500 doesn’t seem as great now as it did before they went ten quickly I get spoiled! A Fish Stick win in Detroit only added further ruin to my psyche.

So now, we turn to the mysterious Western Conference, in a stretch that feels like that of interleague play in baseball given the rarity of the matchups and their concentration into short periods of time. A win against the Wild tonight would make Saturday’s loss meaningless, but despite their three game “losing” streak (they went to a shootout in New Jersey), the Blueshirts will have to solve Jacques Lemaire’s defensive system, and Manny Fernandez, the leading goalie in the league in terms of save percentage.

- It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd gathers at the Garden for this one. It’s a Monday night, on which we saw the smallest crowd of the year when the Panthers were in a few weeks ago. All the recent games have been full, but tonight we’ll see if the sellouts for the Penguins were to see Sid the Kid or a first place hockey team in New York.

- It’s been thirty years since Brad Park, Jean Ratelle, and Joe Zanussi were dealt to the Bruins for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais in what to this day remains the most shocking Rangers trade I’ve ever seen. I was actually in Philadelphia that day, and couldn’t believe what I heard. I saw a fellow Rangers fan that day, the biggest Jean Ratelle fan of all time. I remember that he had “19” written all over his sneakers…and I got to tell him about the deal. He didn’t react that well. Neither did Park. He tells "I'm still ticked!"


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