I will be writing a 5 part series that is somewhat similar to and inspired by Scott Gallof's "The Blame Game." However, instead of pointing fingers at individuals who are to blame, I will discuss certain key attributes that the team as a whole are lacking and are the reasons, but not the only reasons, for the Ranger's underacheivement.
Great teams, especially champions, are always extremely motivated to succeed. No team in any sport can reach their potential unless every member of that team feels a drive to as well as he or she can. If there is one member who does not feel that need to win then that team will not be as good as it can be. Look at the New York Giants, a team that most people thought would lose in the first round yet they went on to upset the perfect Patriots and win the Super Bowl. They did not do it on skill as their opponents were often better then them. They just had a tremendous will and thirst to be champions. You can go through the history of sports and most of the time the more motivated team will win.
It is quite a rarity for every member of a team to be motivated for every game; teams that have that are unstoppable. The great teams usually have many players who are very motivated to win, the not as good teams are often not as motivated. This is true if you disregarding skill level, but if you have a skilled team that should and could be excellent and nonetheless struggles to maintain mediocraty, then the first place that you must look is motivation. Is this Rangers team motivated to win every game?
Looking at the past two seasons, it is apparant that the Rangers struggle to motivate when they are in good position. If they have risen to the top in the beginning of 2005-06, then they will collapse at the end of the season whenthey are guaranteed a playoff spot. If they are predicted to do well in 2006-07, then they are not motvated to work to fulfill expectations until they are up against the wall and must motivate to survive. This season, the expectations were that the Rangers would, and deep down we still believe that they will even if the whispers of hope are fading from the hearts of Rangers faithful.
The issue at hand is the ability to motivate in good times. You cannot take a night or nights off because you have moved into 7th place in the conference. If you have won 3 straight, you still haven't won your next game. You need to show up for that and be motivated to build on success instead of sitting on it.
There is a concept in sports that if you aren't going up, you are going down. There is no sitting still becuase while you remain as you are, other teams are striving to pass you. The Rangers are running from a mob. If they get some distance, they rest and wait for the mob to catch up instead of putting more space between themselves and the mob. This is the flaw in the motivation of the team. Look at the Red Wings who play every game to win, despite being 19 points ahead of second place.
So it is time to forget the standings, forget the opponent and the schedule and the line combinations. It is time to start treating every game like Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It is time to be motivated as if every second of every game can make or break this season.
Because it can.