After the Rangers loss against Boston Sunday night, much of the Rangers fan base went into panic mode. The usual suspects came out and called for Tortorella’s head, Michael Del Zotto’s and to some extent Brad Richards, as if the loss was solely on them. We’ve been down this road before, and quite frankly, I wasn’t surprised at the fan sentiment. The stakes are high at this time of year and everyone is wound tight. I get it.
Still, despite some Rangers bloggers calling this team mediocre and overachievers (which kinda contradicts the Torts hate no?), I beg to differ. No matter what happens the next couple of games, I still believe the Rangers are closer to the Cup than most give them credit for.
Do the Rangers need to make a couple of moves this offseason? Sure. But the right core is still in place and the right coach still leads them.
Look, there will be plenty of time to debate who stays, who goes, who we should acquire, etc. For now, take comfort in knowing the Rangers have the best goalie on the planet. We have one of the best defenses in the NHL (Sunday’s game was an aberration), save a move or two and a buy out of Richie, our offense will be much improved.
And that’s not to say this season is over. The Bruins are still beatable. They have better roster depth, but throw in a healthy Staal, or even a Ryan Clowe and these last two games could have easily gone the other way. Save a few brain farts in coverage, the Rangers have been right with them. These mistakes they’ve made are correctable and I’m sure Torts will have them playing the right way tonight at MSG.
Okay Suit, but what about the Penguins? We’d never get past them!
The Penguins seem to be everyone’s pick to steamroll through the Eastern Conference, but a team with goaltending issues shouldn’t be guaranteed anything. The Islanders outplayed the Penguins and lost. Hockey happens. But they exposed their weaknesses.
If we can comeback and beat Boston, I think we could carry that momentum into the Eastern Conference finals and perhaps beyond. McD and Girardi shutdown Ovie and Backstrom. Perhaps they wouldn’t have the same success against Crosby and Malkin, but perhaps they could contain them enough for us to have a chance. If not, there’s always next year.
Maybe next fall Kreider takes a step forward. Maybe Miller replaces Richie. Maybe Dylan takes Eminger’s spot. Maybe we acquire a PP QB. If any of those things happen, the puck moves closer to the other team’s goal line. The point of all this is, this team isn’t mediocre. While Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the world, if the team was as bad as people thought, his save percentages would be back down in the .916 – .917 range like when he actually did have a mediocre team in front of him.
We’re getting there people. Though the hour seems to be getting late in Rangerland, the night is always darkest before the dawn. Chin up. Let’s go Rangers.