Just finished watching the Sharks/Ducks game, and all I can say is wow! It is so nice watching the other teams play where you can enjoy it to it's fullest, but later on tonight will not be the case. The all important Game 4 between New York and Washington. The Rangers have had a couple days to recover from their 4-0 loss in Game 3. Now all Rangers fans can do is ask the same questions everyone is thinking. How will they react? Can Henrik keep up his play? Can the Rangers stop Washington's elite 3 after Game 3?
The 2 days off should be enough for them to forget about Game 3. All hope is not lost yet. They were able to beat the odds and take games 1 and 2 in Washington. Even with dropping Game 3 they can take a stranglehold on the series by winning tonight. It will be no easy task. Washington has out shot, and for the most part outplayed the Rangers in all 3 games. The superb play of "King" Henrik is the main reason why NY is up 2-1 in the series. The elite 3 I refer to, you should all know by now, is Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom. Each player has tallied 4 points, including Semin's heart breaker in Game 3. The key to beating the Caps will be stopping these 3 guys. Ovechkin has been a mad man thus far. Shooting from all angles, creating chances, all while not scoring 1 single goal. You got to wonder, what could this series be like if Alex the Great was scoring like his usual self.
When you look at this series you look at Washington's elite 3, Greene, and Varlamov. When you look at the Rangers, all you see or hear about is Lundqvist and Callahan. These two guys have been doing it all for this team and it's time the rest of the bunch picks it up. Guys like Zherdev, Drury, Naslund, Roszival, Redden. The list can continue until the bottom of the roster. The Rangers are being held together in this series right now by 2 men. That is unacceptable. It would be nice if for just one season, Rangers fans can say the money spent was well spent. These guys making $5+ million a season are playing some of the worst hockey all season. First off, Drury shouldn't be in the lineup. Yes he is known for his clutch performances, but he is just nonexistent on the ice. He is hurting the team by dressing. Then you look as Naslund and Zherdev and wonder where it went wrong. These two guys were performing well this season, leading scoring categories for most of the year for the team. Could the coaching changed have anything to do with this?
When John Tortorella took over for Tom Renney as head coach, the team started winning again. You cannot argue with that. WHat you can argue is it hurt the game for Zherdev. Under Renney's control, Zherdev was the guy you gave the puck to. He was the go to guy. Under Torts he plays almost minimal minutes and has gotten benched on more than one occasion. Then you look at Naslund, and you think for a good long hard time. No answers. This guy used to be a top scorer, but when the game changed after the lockout, it seemed Naslund decided not to go ahead with it. It looks as though he is playing with fear. Take a hit...this is playoff hockey!!!
These guys need to realize you need to put it all on the line. You may never get another shot at even making the playoffs. Every game is a gem. Play them like it's your last. That is what my high school coach said before every game. That is how we played. That nis why we won a State Championship. Same goes for the NHL. If you put in your all you will succeed. You need to want it, and right now the Rangers don't want it. Well maybe a few of them do, but that won't take them to the finals.
It's a long road. 14 more wins to go. A lot needs to change for this team to be taken seriously by the hockey world. Tonight could be a good indication if we will be watching more Rangers hockey this season or waiting, yet again, for a new season. A new start. A new hope.
Hauger's Random Thought: This is where I will share my quick thoughts on the rest of the league and hockey world, but since this is my first blog i'll make it short. PLAYOFF HOCKEY IS WITHOUT A DOUBT THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR!!!