Bill Parcells once famously uttered that a team’s record is what they are.
Right now, the New York Rangers are 24-23-7 after a 5-1 loss to Carolina last night at the Garden. It was the Rangers’ fourth loss in a row in which they have been outscored by an aggregate 17-3.
It is a Sisyphean undertaking to determine what aspects of the game this team excels in. Against the Original 30’s second worst team, the Rangers did not skate, shoot, hit, pass or defend very well. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
“I don’t think we played that bad of a game tonight. We had our chances. We had a good forecheck. If (the puck) bounced one way or another it could be a different game,” Ryan Callahan said.
The harsh reality is that the Rangers are not bad enough to have high draft picks nor are they good enough to contend for a championship; they are middle-of-the-road, good enough to win some nights and qualify for the playoffs in the feeble Eastern Conference, where they most-likely will be one-and-done. Maybe they’ll get to the second round. But the sport’s most recognizable image of tangible success will not vacation in Manhattan for the 15th consecutive summer.
What is the organizational mission statement? Is it to win a Cup? Or is it to guarantee that the Garden’s doors will be open in the second full week of April? It’s hard to tell since the general manager, the architect of the milquetoast mis-matched collection of athletes, will not speak with reporters that cover his team.
For an organization that publicly boasts about its plan to build from within, where is the youth? A team that is 25th in the NHL is goals scored cannot afford to evaluate whether forward prospects P.A. Parenteau and Evgeny Grachev, among others, are NHL-caliber?
Do those in positions of responsibility feel a need to make personnel changes?
As far as the coach is concerned, the answer is no.
“I think we’ve had some runs. We had a nice run at the start of the year, (then) struggled, had a nice run before we got into this little mess now. We’d like to play better at home. That’s something we have to work through; and not get so spooked in our building when something goes wrong,” Tortorella said of his team that is 12-13-4 at MSG. “But I do. I think we have the people.”
The Hurricanes (17-28-7) led 2-0 after the first because of goals from Patrick Dwyer (3:11) and Eric Staal (3:36) in a 25 second span and a complete lack-of-fight back from the Rangers. The only emotion emanated from the 18,200 denizens whose boos, catcalls and chants of “Fire Sather” following Staal’s goal reverberated throughout the Garden. In the game’s final minute, the crowd demanded a “Refund.”
Callahan cut the lead to 2-1 with a tip 1:24 into the second period. The momentum lasted all of 41 seconds. Sergei Samsonov tipped an Andrew Alberts point shot to put the ‘Canes up 3-1. On the play, Wade Redden was in the neutral zone. Following the goal, he was benched for the remainder of the game.
“That was my decision. I’m not going to get into a long dissertation about why or when. It was my decision,” Tortorella said.
Redden said that Tortorella did not tell him why he was benched. “I can only assume. I f—d up there. Kind of got caught on the wall. We got back. Gilly (Matt Gilroy) made a good play to break the play up. Caught in our zone. They put it in. That’s it for me.”
Samsonov’s second goal of the game was an even strength bullet at 7:51 of the third increased the lead to 4-1. Staal’s power-play bomb with 5:18 left in the game was the game’s last goal.
Henrik Lundqvist was not good, allowing five goals on 24 shots. Cam Ward stopped 37 of 38 shots.
To a man, the Rangers firmly believe that their upcoming road trip is coming at the right time. They will be in Phoenix on Saturday, Colorado on Sunday and Los Angeles Tuesday night before returning to a home date against Cup-contending Washington next Thursday.
“I think it’s a good time for us to go on the road, as a team. Get things together a bit and put this behind us. Sometimes when you’re struggling the best thing is to go on the road and play a simple game,” Callahan said.
“I think what we need to be doing is getting pucks deep on their defensemen, getting hard on the forecheck and off of that, get pucks to the net and getting guys there. I think that starts in the defensive zone, where we need to tighten up. Guys are pressing a bit looking for offense. Sometimes your defensive zone gets away from you.”
The Devils released a statement Monday regarding the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s suspension of forward prospect Patrice Cormier. Cormier, a center for the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies elbowed Quebec Remparts’ defenseman Mikael Tam in the head. Tam collapsed to the ice, began convulsing and had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.
“We fully respect the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s decision regarding last
week’s incident. The Devils’ organization views this situation seriously, and does not
condone Patrice Cormier’s actions. “This unfortunate incident does not reflect the character of the Patrice Cormier we know. We trust that Patrice will have learned a valuable lesson that will serve him well when he returns to hockey as a valued player in our organization,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said in the release. “We will honor the league’s suspension, have not considered, and will not explore other avenues for his return this season. We are pleased to hear Mikael Tam is doing well. Our thoughts are with him for a full recovery.”
The CanWest News Service reported on Tuesday that Rouyn-Noranda GM Andre Tourigny is challenging the QMJHL’s ruling.
Rangers prospect Evgeny Grachev was the focus of a feature in the Jan.25 edition of The Hockey News. The piece examined why the 19 year old has struggled in the AHL, having only tallied 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 37 games. Grachev recorded 80 points (40 goals, 40 assists) in 60 games last season with the Ontario (Junior) Hockey League’s Brampton Battalion.
The Hurricanes named Eric Staal its 13th captain in franchise history last Wednesday. In the four games since he was named captain, Staal has scored seven goals.
Forwards Erik Christensen and Donald Brashear were scratched.
New York Islanders defenseman Jack Hillen will miss the next month-and-a-half-to-two months after being hit in the mouth by an Alex Ovechkin slap shot Tuesday night.
According to multiple reports, Atlanta has begun trade discussions involving 26-year-old superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk. Do not expect the Rangers to be in the mix, however, because they do not possess the cap room and likely the prospects to entice Atlanta GM Don Waddell.
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