The frustration that is Ranger fandom continued on Friday night as the Blueshirts beat the Birds in Blueland 5-2. In and of itself, a victory over the Atlanta Thrashers is good thing. Winning is fun, everyone likes winning. But the point of the season is to win at the end, to take home that stunning Stanley Cup.
And these Rangers can't. So what's the point? After 1994 the team was bad but not bad enough. Since the lockout they've been good but not good enough. It is the mediocrity that causes my madness and the fact that it is acceptable to franchise management that outright infuriates.
Tonight's win moved the team within three points of Boston for eighth place in the East. Seeing as Savvy is out for the B's, it is easy to see the Rangers vaulting them for the final playoff spot. That would be a good thing if this team was built for a real run through the postseason but they are not - the flaws are simply too deep and there are simply too many of them. So the team will get into the playoffs, us fans will overspend for a few extra games only to have the Blueshirts rip our hearts out with another early exit and Dolan will have enough of a result to raise season ticket prices for the fifth straight season. And yet the franchise gets no closer to the final prize, yet again.
Some notes on this evening's exhibition, sorry for no photos there was nothing over at Yahoo! and I don't have the patience to search:
*The top story going into the game was that Sean Avery was benched, and it must be said that he was hardly missed. That he was benched for ineffectiveness is not outrageous. That other players have not been benched for outright ineptness is outrageous. Exhibit No. 1: Michal Rozsival. Rozy can't keep up with Max Afinogenov and the former Sabre sets up the first Atlanta goal. Rozy takes a bad penalty just 20 seconds after MDZ's goal to open the door for Atlanta. Rozy can't clear the puck and can't maintain his coverage and Atlanta scores their second goal.
*Arty Anisimov is Exhibit No. 2 on this night. Brian Boyle forces a turnover, Anisimov foolheartedly goes in one on three, loses the puck and ends up in the corner. Afinogenov goes the other way (passing a stick swinging Chris Drury along the way) and sets up the aforementioned first goal. Anisimov chases Colby Armstrong around the ice like an annoying puppy dog and trips him up, taking a bad penalty in the third period. And he couldn't win a draw to save his life.
*Exhibit No. 3, Wade Redden. Just because he has no right getting paid $33,679 a day. He wasn't good but he wasn't as bad as Rozy.
*Gaborik and Lundqvist, who both make more than Redden, actually earned their money on this night. Gabby finally got his groin under control (ha ha) and skated well. He got into good positions and showed off the offensive smarts that makes him one of the best snipers in the world. Hank was solid; he didn't make many exceptional saves but he didn't allow any softies as he held down the fort.
*Vinny Prospal and his terrible tan showed up again. Sure he scored in Jersey but this was the first game in a while where he complimented Gabby the way we have wanted him too when he was acquired.
*Michael Del Zotto had a goal credited him on a fluke play when a pass deflected off a defender past Hedberg but he did have an all-around good game. MDZ was far better in his own zone than he has been of late, which is good news going forward for the young player.
*Brandon Dubinsky didn't get on the scoresheet but his all-around play was better than it has been. If he ever finds some chemistry with some wingers, he just might become that star center we have been praying he becomes.
*As I tweeted (and if you don't follow me @truebluefan329 you should), I watched this game on Sportsouth and it one of the worse professional broadcasts I have witnessed. Their cameramen couldn't follow the puck and made me seasick, the director seemingly had no idea which shots to take when and the on-air talent was almost as clueless. No wonder no one watches hockey in Georgia.
*After following me on Twitter, head over to Puck Daddy and vote in the Golden Roar contest. A lot of great photoshop work on display at Cindy's expense.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Chris Drury - two assists.
2-Marian Gaborik - one goal and two assists.
1-Vinny Prospal - two goals and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Marc Staal - When Staal doesn't try to do too much, he does so very much more. Rock solid performance.
2-Ryan Callahan - Can't stop, won't stop. Now if he could only score when there is a goaltender in the net...
1-Gabby - All World, when 100%.