NEW YORK, NY – There’s something wrong with my New York Rangers. Sure, they’re winning games and in good position to make a deep playoff push. But there’s something amiss. This isn’t the Rangers team of my youth. I’ll always support the team no matter what but this isn’t the Rangers team I grew to love.
Rangers teams of the past have always struck a balance with a mix of top talent and tough S.O.B’s. – the current crop of Blueshirts has ditched the toughness in favor of more razzle and dazzle in the offensive zone. Alain Vigneault has wiped out the fighting, the checking, the blocked shots and defense in general. He’s put the emphasis on offense and has had some success so far, but I don’t get the warm -n- fuzzies from this Rangers team.
They aren’t playing like Rangers.
It started when Tortorella was fired. I love tough hockey but the Tortorella mold wasn’t sustainable. There were always going to be too many injuries sticking with Torts and his emphasis on blocking every shot. But instead of toning the tough style back a bit but keeping the same identity, the Rangers’ brass decided to go in the complete opposite direction… I was hoping that Lindy Ruff would become the new manager, but the Blueshirts decided to go with Alain Vigneault and his poutine & Pepsi style of hockey. The fighting, blocked shots and fore-checking vanished seemingly overnight.
Any edge the Rangers played with left for Vancouver with Tortorella.
Watching this team now is frustrating. I’m not one of the guys that thinks that a hockey game with no fights isn’t worth watching, but give me one every five games. Or at least every ten games. And would it kill the Rangers to finish a check or two? Along with physicality, team defense has dropped in importance also. Now that the Rangers traded Ryan Callahan to Tampa, there isn’t a forward on the top three lines that doesn’t completely shirk defensive responsibilities. We just have a bunch of Frenchies who would rather dance with the puck than back check. I just can’t see a team this soft winning a championship. Not in this league. Someone tell Alain Vigneault that this isn’t the KHL. Physicality is a part of the game in North America.
They are now a team that is set up solely to score. It’s great for the neutral fan and the fan that just wants to see the red light go on and the scoreboard ticking over. But when it goes wrong and the goal well runs dry, you get games like the the two last week against Carolina and Minnesota. Those were two of the worst hockey games I’ve ever seen the Rangers play. Sunday’s game against the Sharks wasn’t much better.
The Rangers scored 8 in Ottawa on Tuesday but they didn’t actually play very well. And they gave up four goals, which just can’t happen if you want to win a playoff series. Tonight the Rangers play the proverbial playoff four-pointer in Columbus and Saturday they hit the Rock for a grudge match against the Devils. The Blueshirts have twelve games left and they’ll need to win the majority of them to get a good seed going into the playoffs.
Hopefully they gain some toughness in those twelve games or it may be an early exit from hockey’s second season for the Rangers.
Tune in tomorrow for our tough guy/goon extraordinariness, Junoir Blaber.