The Rangers Game Log

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Win, Though Not Quite Seventh Heaven

- Tensions were definitely heightened yesterday, both before and during the Rangers’ gut-wrenching, streak-snapping 5-4 win against the Caps. I spent the afternoon nervously watching the clock in anticipation, and it’s been awhile since I had that feeling. During the final TV timeout of the game, with just under five minutes to play, someone turned to me and said “This is going to be the longest five minutes of my life!” Oh man! How will this guy deal with a one goal lead with five minutes left in a Game 6?

However, the final 4:55 wasn’t quite as long as he expected. That was thanks in part to the one of several new combinations for the game, the line of Blair Betts – Marcel Hossa – Jed Ortmeyer. Betts (11-5 on draws) nudged the puck deep off the faceoff, and Hossa, who has seemingly been given more of an opportunity with this club than Doug Weight and Dave Gagner did combined, went to work behind the Caps net, battling successfully for the puck. The trio kept the puck in the zone with hard work for a full 45 seconds, even generating a scoring opportunity for Ortmeyer, who was dynamic all night, leading the team with five solid hits, before the Caps were forced to ice the puck. That was a glimpse of what some of us have referred to this year as “Ranger hockey,” and it came as a relief after 55 minutes of sloppy, scattershot play. It set the tone for the remainder of the period, which generated no major scares; even the defense duo of Tyutin and Ozolinsh, who were minus 2 and committed more giveaways than the Pentagon has to Halliburton, staunchly defended their goal, using their bodies to not allow the Caps to establish position in front of Lundqvist, who came up big despite the four goals against.

The Rangers played those last few minutes with intensity and purpose, as they sought to make Jaromir Jagr’s incredible winning goal stand up. This certainly can’t be the same player that we were told would brood and sulk when things didn’t go his way. He has played through injury since the break and throughout the streak, demonstrating leadership qualities that we didn’t anticipate. A commenter on Blueshirt Bulletin recently suggested that he now be given the ‘C,’ and that would be well-earned and probably a benefit to the team. John Dellapina, who to me is the best of the beat reporters by a wide margin, reported that Renney had to calm Jagr down when he lashed out at the bench during the second period. The man is playing with a grim purpose, and seems determined to carry this team, at least the offense, on his back. Anything less than that, and it will be a short spring.

- Kasparaitis was credited with three hits, but they lacked any of the oomph that we are used to; he is clearly hurting with his broken toe.

- The win puts the Blueshirts in first by two points, but the losing streak was not without its serious implications. It allowed Buffalo and Ottawa to pull away in the standings, which makes a 4th seed highly unlikely unless one of those teams collapses. That means that failing to beat out the Flyers would land the Rangers in the 5th seed (at best!), on the short end of a 4-5 matchup against one of those two squads. So keep your eye on the Orange Crud, who play in Tampa tonight.


  • At 2:29 PM, Anonymous throwaway said…

    I'm glad you led your write-up with a description of the final five minutes, because I, too, was pleasantly surprised by how well the Rangers played with the 1-goal lead. This, more than anything else, is a positive to take forward from what was a game with far too many negatives.

    Not sure I agree about making Jagr the captain. Brilliant as he is, at times he just seems too one-dimensional to me to be an appropriate captain. I really wasn't happy with a good portion of his game last night, for instance, and I'm not so certain that a guy who often doesn't hustle back on defense is captain-material. I know I've been somewhat repetitive about this, but when this team has been at its best it is because of a remarkable team-wide effort, and in a sense it really isn't a team that lends itself to one particular captain.

  • At 9:37 AM, Blogger alan said…

    I was thinking that getting the C would make him more responsible defensively. But on the other hand, given his apparently precarious physical condition, wouldn't we rather him conserve himself a bit for down the road? I think the team should have a captain in the playoffs though, so maybe that would be a good time.


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